Tried-and-tested formulas to help your business run smoothly

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Michelle Ward reviewed Excel tips for editors, presented by Maya Berger.

Maya Berger running a workshop at the 2019 SfEP conference.

The Editor’s Affairs (TEA) is an Excel spreadsheet package which helps you ‘take the guesswork out of quoting and run your business with confidence’ – two problems I identified with as a relatively new businesswoman and an early stages proofreader.

Before hearing Maya speak about TEA during a Cloud Club West Zoom in September, I was writing my CPD and proofreading jobs down on paper, working out rates for words/hour and words/pence using mathematical formulas learned many years ago in school. I would then transfer this data to a home-made spreadsheet, which never seemed to carry over correctly to the next month or year. I was duplicating work, making mistakes in calculations, and getting frustrated.

Getting to grips with Excel

Maya started her session at this year’s CIEP conference with a quick canter through the many intricacies of Excel – valuable both to beginners and to advanced users. Among other things, she showed us how to:

  • wrap text in columns
  • hide unwanted columns and rows
  • input negative numbers

Her troubleshooting tips explained quick solutions to cryptic errors that I normally research on Google, such as:

  • #DIV/0!
  • #REF!
  • #VALUE!
  • Green triangles

A nice cup of TEA

Maya showed us her demo TEA spreadsheet, which has separate pages for:

  • CPD
  • project timesheet
  • income
  • expenses

She led us patiently through the steps needed to input our own data, which would then magically populate the columns and rows using pre-loaded formulas. We could then confidently quote for new business, knowing we would have enough time to complete the work before deadline, and would be paid an honest wage for time taken. When the time comes to apply for a CPD certificate or a membership upgrade, we can simply look at the CPD page and know instantly whether we have enough hours and enough points. The Income/Expenses pages would be useful at financial year end. What more could a freelance copyeditor or proofreader need to make their life easier?

Seeing your data clearly

Maya demonstrated using colourful charts to visually enhance selected data, such as an Amount Invoiced/Received Per Month table and a Percentage of Work Per Client pie chart.

  • Monthly Summaries table
  • Client Summaries table
  • Expense Category Summaries table

From these tables, you can tell the percentage of your total income per client, who your best paying client is, how many projects you have for each client, etc. Could your business survive if you lost a particular client?

As with all the sessions at the CIEP conference 2020, I came away invigorated and motivated. Maya finished her session with this fantastic phrase, which I will now use as my business mantra: ‘Check in with yourself and your dreams!’


Special offer

Maya is offering CIEP conference 2020 participants the opportunity to purchase her basic TEA package for £85 until the end of December: more details are available in the ‘Additional Resources’ email sent to delegates after the conference.


Michelle Ward is a CIEP-trained proofreader and the founder of Brook Language Services. Formerly a Modern Foreign Languages/Special Needs teacher and RAF Reservist, she is now an Intermediate Member of the CIEP specialising in proofreading history (Napoleonic/WWII/memoirs/biographies) and polishing texts written by multilingual authors. She loves curling up by the wood burner with a good book and red wine after a countryside dog walk.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

A fascinating look at how words evolve through time

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Sheila Korol reviewed Choosing your words: Using the Historical Thesaurus of English to explore vocabulary, presented by Fraser Dallachy.

Delegates at the 2019 SfEP conference.

As deputy director of the Historical Thesaurus of English, Fraser Dallachy knows words. And his session was timely considering that the second edition was recently released in October.

The Historical Thesaurus is a true labour of love. The first edition was initiated in 1965 but not published until 2009, hardly surprising because the close to 800,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) were individually handwritten on carefully labelled slips of paper. These papers were then sorted and re-sorted by hand until various categories were formed into what would eventually become the initial two-volume publication. A beautiful addition to any bookshelf no doubt, the paperback thesaurus itself was difficult to use even for its originally intended academic audience, who wanted to study the history of ideas as expressed in words.

Fortunately, a much more user-friendly online version also exists (ht.ac.uk), and part of Fraser’s job is to promote this publicly funded resource as a valuable tool for all word lovers. To this end, Fraser and his team continue to work closely with the OED to update words and dates online, striving for ever more accuracy in their historical record of the English language.

His team has also created various visualisations and graphs which users can choose from (and play with), including treemaps, sparklines and heatmaps. Thus, it’s easy to see when words based on a particular topic were historically used. Searches might lead, for example, to a timeline showing whether a word originated in Old or Middle English, whether the word is still used in the present, or how an entire category of words has evolved to reflect changing vocabulary.

How might this prove useful to writers and editors? If you write or edit historical fiction, you can check whether anachronisms have inadvertently been included in the manuscript. Or if you write or edit speculative, say steampunk, fiction, you can search words to help with worldbuilding.

But what the conference delegates seemed most excited about was the Time-Traveller’s Dictionary – a specialised resource meant for writers who want to filter out from the thesaurus only those terms actively used for a specific subject at a particular point in time. However, this remains a work in progress, so keep an eye on the Historical Thesaurus website.

Fraser would love suggestions on how to make the thesaurus even more useful and widely relevant for all word lovers, so please contact him if you have ideas at fraser.dallachy@glasgow.ac.uk.

Sheila Korol is a high school English teacher from Canada who has lived in seven countries over the past 25 years. She currently lives in Hong Kong and is transitioning into a freelance editing career. She has completed the Editing Certificate from Simon Fraser University and is an Entry-Level Member of the CIEP.

 

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

How to alter your mindset by changing your space and pace

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Janine Levine reviewed Editing in the era of digital nomadism and COVID-19: challenges and opportunities, presented by Marieke Krijnen.

At Conference Aston, home of the 2019 SfEP conference.

The life of a freelance editor can be a charmed, privileged existence. We have almost unlimited freedom to work when and where we choose, be it the local library, our favourite cosy café, or a fully kitted-out home office complete with RollerMouse and treadmill desk. No one treasures this freedom more than freelance academic copyeditor and self-confessed ‘digital nomad’ Marieke Krijnen, who has lived all over the world, including countries in the Middle East and Europe and in North America. Marieke got the third and final day of the CIEP 2020 conference off to an inspiring start with her webinar, Editing in the era of digital nomadism and COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities.

Marieke is the first to acknowledge the inherent privilege in a term like ‘digital nomad’, but this lifestyle is not without its challenges. From isolation and loneliness to work–life imbalance and back pain, Marieke let us in on the secrets of how she faces down these challenges in her day-to-day life. While international travel is largely on pause, for the time being, more of us find ourselves working remotely or from home during the current pandemic, and, as Marieke illustrated in her presentation, many of the same challenges apply.

There were so many useful, practical takeaways from this webinar that I couldn’t begin to list them all here. Luckily, you can find all the information in this handout compiled by Marieke. From apps and ergonomic office accessories to online forums and social networking groups – not to mention Marieke’s tips and tricks for maintaining good physical and mental wellbeing based on what works best for her – I was heartened to learn that there are so many quick and easy things I can implement right away for a happier, healthier and more productive remote-working lifestyle. I will mention a few of my favourites.

To help with productivity, apps like Freedom can temporarily block access to certain time-swallowing websites of your choosing (Facebook and Twitter are popular choices). To combat feelings of isolation, online groups, such as those on Meetup, bring individuals working within the same profession together for a virtual version of that ‘water cooler’ effect of a traditional office environment. There are also increasing numbers of co-working spaces popping up in cities all over the world. While monthly or yearly subscriptions to these spaces can be pricey, many of them now offer day passes, so that sorely needed change of scenery once a week won’t break the bank. Or, if you can’t make it there in person, you can join a digital co-working space. Lastly, daily practices, like taking a break to do an online yoga class, or simply relocating to another room in the house midway through the day, can be the reset the body and mind need to stay focused. And sticking regularly to these practices can reduce the risk of burnout in the longer term.

The current pandemic has made working from home a reality for the foreseeable future for many of us. While a globe-trotting lifestyle may be out of reach right now, it’s clear that many of the challenges of digital nomadism apply now more than ever, to more of us than ever before. Judging by the level of engagement in the Q&A session, conference attendees found much to inspire them in Marieke’s talk. But for me, the most important takeaway of all was Marieke’s reminder to give ourselves a break. She admits that even she doesn’t manage to follow all her advice all the time, and she certainly doesn’t recommend rushing out and buying a treadmill desk right away. One small change can make a big difference.

Janine Levine is a freelance proofreader and copyeditor based in Toronto, Canada. She specialises in non-fiction editing, including academic pieces and political magazines. When she isn’t working, she enjoys hiking and Zoom calls with friends. She is an Intermediate Member of the CIEP.

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

To infinity and beyond – delving into PerfectIt’s possibilities

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Suzanne Arnold reviewed Enforcing house styles: Customising PerfectIt for advanced users, presented by Daniel Heuman.

Delegates at the 2019 SfEP conference.

PerfectIt is a Word plug-in that checks for possible consistency issues – eg ‘realise’ and ‘realize’. This was a practical session to help attendees edit style sheets in PerfectIt, with tips for beginners and more experienced users.

My key takeaway: the screens may look intimidating at first, but it’s worth pushing past the fear to see what’s possible.

Getting started

  1. In PerfectIt 4, you can customise style sheets and create new ones; in PerfectIt Cloud you can’t (yet).
  2. The drop-down menu offers built-in style sheets: eg US English, UK English, Australian Government Style.
  3. ‘Check Consistency’ in the drop-down menu means PerfectIt will simply check for potential consistency issues within the text, without looking for compliance with a particular style.
  4. To edit a style sheet, choose ‘Manage Styles’ in the toolbar. Use the drop-down menu by ‘Current style sheet’ to select the style you want to edit, then click ‘Edit Style Sheet’.
  5. To create a new style sheet, choose ‘Manage Styles’ and then ‘New’.
  6. The tabs on the left are the ones you’re most likely to use initially.
  7. Read each tab from left to right, top to bottom. The example below therefore reads, ‘When PerfectIt is running the check for spelling variations it should warn if it finds the phrase “whilst”. If it finds the phrase, it should suggest “while”.’ The top line has a drop-down menu and the other two you type into.
  8. Make separate entries for variations on a word – eg ‘e-mail’, ‘e-mails’, ‘e-mailing’ etc.
  9. And that’s the key to tailoring style sheets in PerfectIt. Yes, there are many other settings you can adjust, but this is all you need to know to get started.
  10. Good luck!

Tips for advanced users

  1. Searches are not case sensitive – so the example below would find ‘SFep’ and ‘sFEP’ etc. But clicking ‘Case sensitive suggestion term?’ ensures that the replacement term ‘CIEP’ is capitalised as specified.
  2. Use the ‘Style Notes’ column to give users more information (see next screen grab).
  3. ‘Except for’ in the ‘Style Notes’ column acts as an instruction to PerfectIt – in the example below, PerfectIt will suggest correcting ‘tennant’ to ‘tenant’ unless it is in ‘David Tennant’ or ‘Michael Tennant’.
  4. If the house style has certain terms that are always abbreviated – eg UK – use the ‘Never Find’ tab, select ‘Abbreviations Without Definitions’ from the drop-down and then type in the abbreviation that doesn’t need writing out.
  5. In the ‘Settings’ tab, scroll to the bottom and there are some options called ‘Style Points’. These are switched off by default, but you can switch them on in the same way as for other checks.
  6. The ‘Fine-Tuning’ tab initially looks pretty daunting, but all you need to know is that the words separated by pipes | will be treated in the way described on the left.
  7. If you only have a PDF, you can open some PDFs within Word and it will convert it to text. It may not look pretty but it will allow you to use PerfectIt.

Suzanne Arnold is an Advanced Professional Member who specialises in copyediting and proofreading non-fiction for adults.

 

 

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Make your website earn its keep with just a few tweaks

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Phillip Scott reviewed Editor website foundations, presented by Louise Harnby.

Delegates at the 2019 SfEP conference.

When I was asked to review Louise Harnby’s conference session – Editor website foundations – the obvious preparatory step was to visit her site: louiseharnbyproofreader.com. After exploring the site’s every nook and cranny, which prompted a visit from the self-esteem monster, I was sorely tempted to resign my commission. (With only a single course under my belt, I am brand new to this world, and to the CIEP: baby-steps status.) The information team, however, quickly assuaged my self-doubt: ‘Just tell us what you thought of the session.’

Even for a newbie like me, the session could not have been more useful. Louise gave us Ten ways to make your website work harder for you, clearly laid out with the sections organised as follows:

  • What do you need to know?
  • What do you need to do?
  • An Effort and Outcome sidebar
  • Examples

The clarity of structure allowed us to concentrate on the practical content. Louise placed emphasis on keeping a beady eye on results: ‘Do this to keep the visitor engaged.’ ‘Is this feature about the potential client or is it about you?’ Primus inter pares: ‘Will this feature drive sales?’

Let’s consider the second section in a little detail: ‘Put testimonials everywhere.’ Who knew? Thinking back on websites near and far, whatever testimonials there may be are nearly always randomly tucked away somewhere, with little or no connection to products and services on offer. Not on Louise’s site. On her home page, there is a scannable (technical term for search engines can find it) encomium: ‘I’m a better writer because you edited my book’ … next to a sketch of the author’s book. Click on the Services tab and there are two more, boxed in for emphasis. On the Books tab, one finds a trio of testimonials from fans of three of her books, a few centimetres higher on the page, with front covers duly on display.

In good but challenging ways, Louise’s 50 minutes flew by and, given the amount of content in the session, the challenge to keep up was at times intense. If I may offer some advice to less-experienced editors, whether or not you already have a website: you would be unwise to address the demands of all ten steps at once.

My priorities will likely be … Step 1: Websites don’t rank (pages do)! Step 3: Make the page readable; Step 5: Tell visitors what to do; and Step 6: Mind your pronouns. The others are at least as important as these four, but I will need time to do the work which will generate testimonials, to create the valuable ‘useful stuff’ to offer free of charge in due course, and to learn the technical side of ‘meaningful metrics’. (First, I will have to learn the meaning of metrics.)

Once I have completed my next several hundred baby steps, I will turn my mind to creating a website of my own. It will not have the magisterial heft or functional virtuosity of the site of our illustrious colleague, but principles are principles, and I will apply what I’ve learned from Louise with alacrity and confidence.

Phillip Scott has enjoyed a wide-ranging career in music education and, once they emerge from lockdown in the spring, he will be pleased to pick up the reins of two of London’s youth orchestras, which he has conducted for the last few years. After basic training in copyediting and proofreading, he is looking forward to this new direction in his life.

 

Taking the mystery out of macros – one click at a time

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Kate Sotejeff-Wilson reviewed Macros for beginners, presented by Karen Cox.

At Conference Aston, for the 2019 CIEP conference.

Earlier this year, in a Saturday workshop with Paul Beverley, I enthusiastically learned how to use macros, but I still wasn’t integrating them into my daily editing work – despite knowing that macros can do things other software like PerfectIt can’t. So, this was a nice refresher session that I’d recommend to anyone who loves words but finds numbers and computer code slightly terrifying.

Learning macros is a bit like learning to touch type. It takes some time, but once you’re up and running, you will save yourself far more time (and money, as you will be able to edit faster). Karen clearly explained how Paul Beverley’s macros work, with Paul on hand to delve into the details.

A macro is a set of instructions to get your computer to do something for you. They do ‘subroutines’, or small repetitive tasks. Paul divides his into three main types: analysis, as-you-edit and global.

Analysis macros produce reports on your text. You can use the reports to spot inconsistencies and make decisions to incorporate into your style sheet. Run each macro, save the report, and change the document yourself or run other macros to do it. Karen introduced her top three of Paul’s macros:

  • DocAlyse counts instances of spelling, punctuation and formatting (such as whether a capital letter is used after a colon). Karen showed us an example of this using a children’s book she had proofread.
  • ProperNounAlyse shows up instances of place and personal names. Karen used this recently for a novel set in Wales.
  • HyphenAlyse shows up when prefixed words are written as hyphenated, as two words or as a single word (in a self-help book, Karen found anti-depressants and antidepressants).

Two of my personal favourites are CenturyAlyse, which is great for historians, and AccentAlyse, which is great for translators.

Use as-you-edit macros to make changes as problems (like these) come up:

  • ‘CommaInDialogue is great for fiction editors.’ Said Karen. This macro checks whether a full stop is used before a dialogue tag instead of a comma, and corrects it. So you get ‘CommaInDialogue is great for fiction editors,’ said Karen. You can change this with one keyboard shortcut as you work your way through your document.
  • SwapCharacters will correct ‘sepllings’ to ‘spellings’; SwapWords will turn ‘in as’ into ‘as in’.
  • Fetch Macros (GoogleFetch, OUPFetch, GoogleMapFetch) will check how a phrase is spelled, capitalised or located.

Global change macros will change every instance of something in the whole document. Think hard before you do this. These macros need to be used with great care; make sure you save a copy of your file before you start.

  • FRedit is a find-and-replace edit; you create a script for how you want to change these globally. You can use this to do things like turn double spaces into single spaces after a full stop. You can tell FRedit not to Track Changes that you want to make ‘silently’.

Karen closed by showing viewers how to install a macro; why not go to Paul Beverley’s website and try it? You can download a starter pack and book from the site, or go to the CIEP macros forum. Paul will be there to answer your questions.

Kate Sotejeff-Wilson has been editing and translating for academics since starting her history PhD in 1999, and she is happiest in the space between languages or an intercultural setting. Born in Wales to a Polish mother and English father, she is now a Finn. Kate is an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP and vice-chair of Nordic Editors and Translators.


If you’d like to learn more about Paul’s macros, check out Christina Petrides’ summary of Paul’s Macro-driven book editing session.


CIEP members can download a Getting started with macros fact sheet from within their members’ area.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Susie Dent in conversation with Denise Cowle

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Anna Baildon reviewed Susie Dent in conversation with Denise Cowle, the CIEP’s marketing director.

Denise Cowle presenting a session at the 2019 SfEP conference.

In the words of our chair, Hugh Jackson, this was ‘perhaps the most eagerly anticipated and most talked-about [session] of the conference’.

Susie Dent became our honorary vice-president in January 2016, and 2020 is the first year that conference has not fallen on a Countdown recording day, thus freeing her up to join us. She must be the UK’s most famous contemporary lexicographer and etymologist, and is a familiar broadcaster and writer.

Denise Cowle, our marketing director, did a superb job of facilitating the conversation, drawing on questions submitted by members. She seemed calm in the hot seat, as if interviewing such high-profile folk is what she does every day.

Susie spoke about her pre-TV career, mentioning her ‘nerdy interest’ in language. She admitted to having ‘no clue’ about what to do after university, and that lexicography had not always been her long-term plan. In 1992, while working at Oxford University Press (OUP) on English and bilingual dictionaries, her OUP boss persuaded her to give Countdown a go. She had declined Channel 4’s invitation four times as she is more comfortable ‘flying below the radar’ than being in the spotlight. Perhaps there’s an interesting point here about serendipitous professional opportunities being won by going beyond your comfort zone.

Denise asked Susie to speculate on what path her career might have taken if she hadn’t joined Countdown. Susie thought she would probably still be in publishing, ideally working on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). When asked if she had ever considered editing or proofreading as a career, Susie said that she wouldn’t be suited to these careers as she wasn’t particularly pedantic about language. But she did say she was most interested in focusing on clarity and eloquence and observing usage rather than adhering rigidly to established rules.

Susie Dent, honorary vice-president of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders

Susie Dent

The discussion turned to Countdown filming. It sounds pretty intensive; twice a month, the team gathers to do three days of filming to produce 15 shows. This gives Susie predictable gaps between filming, in which she can focus on her writing. Shorter pieces and those which can be written in chunks suit this timetable. Susie seemed apprehensive about writing fiction because of the pressure to produce a ‘linguistic wow’, but she did mention the possibility of writing under a pseudonym.

On the question of paper versus online dictionaries, Susie was firmly in favour of online for currency. She said she could envisage the demise of printed dictionaries, but interestingly she said there is a significant gift market in the US for the OED, despite the hefty price tag!

Denise asked Susie about 2020’s neologisms. A favourite of Susie’s is ‘quarantini’. After explaining the etymology of ‘quarantine’, she said she would not expect ‘quarantini’ (and many other COVID-19-related terms) to survive for long. She mentioned that some neologisms gain longevity if they are riffed upon and spawn new, related words, while others become dated and fall out of usage.

Susie talked about her word-of-the-day tweets. She usually avoids politics, aiming instead to choose something beautiful, amusing or topical. Her word for 3 November was ‘empleomania’, meaning ‘the overweening and manic desire to hold public office at any cost’. Make of this what you will! On the subject of word choices, her favourite word from her book How to Talk Like a Local is her selection for 1 January: ‘crambazzled’, a Yorkshire word meaning ‘prematurely aged from excessive drinking’.

Denise asked Susie about the hiccup with her latest book, Word Perfect, published in October. Susie explained that the book had been published using the wrong version of the text, with errors left in, after a pressurised production schedule owing to backlogs caused by COVID-19. She had questioned the title as potentially asking for trouble! I’m sure Denise’s sympathy was shared by everyone watching as Susie described how mortified she had felt. She wisely ‘decided to try to smile’ about it, tweeted to explain things, and in fact received no criticism. Nevertheless, she said that some lalochezia had been very useful!

It was interesting to hear about Susie’s broader experience of having her work edited, especially her view of the process as collaborative. She likes to work with copyeditors with whom she has an existing relationship, especially for book projects. She has had some issues when writing for newspapers, such as the addition of clickbait headings, or the meaning being twisted because the tone of voice has been changed.

Susie mentioned her work on the Something Rhymes with Purple podcast with Gyles Brandreth. She came to agree with Gyles, who told her that ‘it’s the most you thing you’ve ever done’. She thinks this is because it has a simplicity and intimacy, unlike studio work. I thought this chimed well with ‘flying below the radar’.

One of the final questions Susie answered was about her current reading. She is re-reading Our Mutual Friend and Tess of the D’Urbervilles for a forthcoming programme with Gyles on the language of Dickens and Hardy, but they are also two of her favourite novels.

I hope these selected highlights give a flavour of the event for those unable to attend. The session was a joy to watch, so let’s hope we have the pleasure of Susie’s company at future conferences. She was warm, professional and generous in sharing her love of language.

Anna Baildon is an Entry-Level Member and is relishing CIEP training to strengthen her expertise. She has worked in niche librarian roles in higher education and has significant experience in wrangling non-fiction copy into a publishable state. Anna has degrees in English literature and librarianship and a lifelong affinity with words. She plans to freelance, offering both copyediting and proofreading services.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Let’s stop and think to make sure all voices are heard

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Miranda K Lloyd reviewed Conscious language: making editorial decisions for inclusion, presented by Sarah Grey.

Delegates at the 2019 SfEP conference.

As a proofreader and editor with a disability, I was excited to attend Sarah Grey’s session, Conscious Language: Making Editorial Decisions for Inclusion.

I already knew a bit about the importance of person-first language and inclusivity in publishing, and I was excited to learn more from an expert.

What did I learn? And what can we do to be more inclusive?

Inclusivity is more than person-first language

In fact, there is some lively debate about whether person-first language helps promote equality.

Words shape our perception of the world, how we see ourselves and how we feel. Editing for conscious language emphasises kindness, empathy, justice, respect, inclusion and accuracy. The way language is used has a huge influence over people and events, especially in politics and public forums.

As editors, we have great power over, and responsibility for, how language is shaped and used.

Consider the last speech you heard on the news. How did it make you feel? How might it be perceived by others? What will the consequences of a piece of writing be? Will it do any harm?

Language is changing faster than ever before

Be aware of these changes and check how a word or phrase is used. I was shocked to find that a common UK word is considered a grievous slur in parts of North America, and many people were deeply hurt when it was recently used in a popular TV series.

Ask the right questions

Who is the author? Who is the audience? Who is mentioned in the text? Is their perspective included? Does the author’s perception of their audience match the audience’s perception of themselves?

Will the audience appreciate a cultural reference or turn of phrase? Will it add to their experience or alienate them? Is an author forgetting a section of their readership? And if so, what can we do to include them?

Be aware of your own lack of knowledge

Ask yourself: ‘Am I the right editor for this job? Do I have the experience and background to appreciate the cultural context, sensitivities, dialect and other characteristics around this text?’

Listen, read and seek out diverse perspectives. Follow different communities and debates on social media – Twitter is great for this – and consider consulting a sensitivity reader.

Check your (and your author’s) sources

If your author is using sensitive or outdated terms, is the reader made aware of this? If you’re working on an academic text, are the citations consistent? Alert your client if they’re citing female authors by first name and male authors by last name.

Academics’ reputations live or die by how often their work is cited. Citing works by authors from underrepresented backgrounds makes their work visible and draws them into the mainstream.

And finally …

If your client ignores your advice on inclusive language, credits you and publishes anyway, you can say, ‘I gave some advice that was not taken’ and move forward, confident you did your job.

Follow Sarah @GreyEditing on Twitter.

Miranda K Lloyd began working as a freelance proofreader and editor in December 2019. She has a disability and is committed to championing inclusivity in publishing, and making equality and diversity central to her business. Miranda is an Intermediate Member of the CIEP. She is currently taking on work and welcomes all enquiries. Contact her @mirandaklloyd on Twitter.

 

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Consistency is key to building and keeping a ‘fan base’

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Emily Gleeson reviewed Digital marketing primer: making a big splash on your own, presented by Erin Brenner.

Coffee break at the 2019 SfEP Conference.

In a year of firsts for everyone, the CIEP 2020 conference brought many for me – my first online conference, my first CIEP event and, more pressingly, my first time nervously writing something real that people might read. My nerves may have been wasted, though, as the more sessions I attended, the more I felt I’d found a place where I could just … be.

Stage fright is my most loyal companion and extends to everything that’s visible to the public, which certainly affects my weak digital marketing efforts. So, it was with a sliver of excitement and loads of trepidation that I sat down to watch Erin Brenner (Right Touch Editing) speak, hoping to learn even a little something that might help.

For many, digital marketing conjures up frightening images of the conceptually impossible, but Erin soothed us quickly. She began by breaking it down into easy-to-stomach pieces. In doing so, she changed my perspective on successful marketing from an insurmountable mountain scaled only by interpersonal geniuses, into relieved acceptance of the clearly doable step-by-step processes defined by her tidy methods. With a heavy emphasis on building strategy, we were introduced to a clear, goal-driven structure that I’m sure will have even the most introverted and uncertain of us seeing small triumphs, if only we put in the effort. In a defining point about audience, Erin tapped into a reminder I expect all of us need to hear occasionally.

The problem we’re solving for our client is not their lack of clean copy.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the achievement that we find in polishing something to almost perfect, that we can forget that our clients come to us to make their product better, not cleaner or well-written. If they understood our profession – our passion, obsession, sometimes pathological need – enough to know that cleaner even exists, much less as a step towards better, they’d probably not look for us at all.

This comment about problem-solving, which took up only a single line in my hurried notes and is something we’re probably all theoretically aware of, carried us easily into the remainder of the session. Empowering and encouraging in her easy, collegial way of sharing, Erin took us on something akin to a journey of marketing enlightenment. She broke down everything – from defining the real problem we’re solving to how to use a strong marketing message and evocative keywords to get that across. So genuinely generous is Erin with her expertise, we were also treated to resources and suggestions to help us successfully develop a schedule and measure the result of our efforts. All we have to do is stick to the plan.

Erin Brenner’s Digital Marketing Primer rather convincingly conveyed this exciting idea that, with a little bit of patience and the creation of fluid, achievable goals, digital marketing success is not out of reach for any of us. In fact, if we can keep the excuses at bay and follow the guidance we’ve been given, we can pursue it with confidence and clarity and strive to make our businesses work better for us.

Emily Gleeson is a fiction editor based in Australia, who proclaims an eclectic taste and a preference for stirring subtlety, bold truths and vivid imagery, but whose real delight comes from the happiness her clients find in their achievement. Emily can be found at facebook.com/emilygleesoneditorial/, where she patiently awaits news of a CIEP membership upgrade.

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Achieving a clean, polished edit is simply a matter of style

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. John Ingamells reviewed Mastering editorial style sheets, presented by Amy J Schneider.

Conference Aston, where the 2019 SfEP conference was held.

‘Anything you had to look up’ is a great place to start when thinking about what to put in a style sheet. If you have to reach for a reference book, others will too. So, save everyone the trouble and put in your style sheet.

Excellent advice from Amy Schneider in her conference session on style sheets. Anyone who thought a style sheet was just a quick list of whether to use US or UK spellings and whether to hyphenate things beginning with ‘multi-’ will have been impressed by Amy’s exposition of the breadth of things that merit inclusion in a style sheet and the level of detail involved.

Amy walked us through some key questions about style sheets: what they are for; who uses them; how to go about creating one, and what to include. She also touched on some of the differences between fiction and non-fiction (or is that ‘nonfiction’? Where’s my style sheet?).

Most publishers will have a standard sheet, but each project will still need its own to reflect individual requirements. The earlier in the process the style sheet is produced the better, since it can be useful at all stages of production. Copyediting and proofreading, we all understand. But how many of us have stopped to think that indexers and designers will also find a properly compiled style sheet just as useful?

When creating a style sheet and deciding what to include, Amy warned us of the danger of the whole thing becoming an unwieldy wall of text. Sometimes, there may be no getting away from the amount that needs to be included, so it becomes all the more important to focus on clarity of organisation and layout. She challenged us to think imaginatively about how we present the information. ‘Make it skimmable!’ One interesting idea was whether to list things alphabetically or thematically. For example, should Chardonnay and Merlot be listed a long way apart on an alphabetical list or grouped under a single heading of ‘Wine’? The answer will obvious if we follow Amy’s advice and consider the audience: who is using this list and what format will help them find what they are looking for efficiently.

Thinking of the audience will also help us decide how much detail to include. A publisher might be happy with a simple page reference to the relevant bit of the Chicago Manual of Style, while an indie fiction author might appreciate a more detailed explanation for a choice that the copyeditor has made.

In the case of fiction, Amy emphasised that the style sheet was the place for the editor to note down any continuity issues: for example, a character might have three brothers on one page, but four brothers a few chapters later.

Finally, Amy encouraged us to see the style sheet as a core product of the editing process.

Like any good conference session, Amy’s presentation gave us plenty of informative content but also left us with much food for thought on how we can develop and improve our own approach to style sheets.

After 15 years in the diplomatic service and ten years in the City, John Ingamells became a freelance editor in 2015. He lives on the North Norfolk coast with his wife. His work is mostly academic (journals and books), but he has tackled some fiction and business copywriting. When not working, he bakes sourdough bread and plays backgammon.

 


Style sheets work as a complement to style guides. The CIEP guide Your House Style outlines the value of having a house style and how to create such guidance if it isn’t yet in place for an organisation.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.