Tag Archives: CIEP

The many benefits of being a member of the CIEP

Once again it’s that time of year when we’re asking CIEP members to renew their membership. If you’re a CIEP member who can’t quite decide whether to renew or not, perhaps the five editors below can persuade you it’s worth it …

Laurie Duboucheix-Saunders

I have been a member of the CIEP – back then it was the SfEP – since I started freelancing in 2008 and I have never considered not renewing. With no professional editorial experience, I found out about the Institute when looking for a training course. Being a member allowed me to gain the skills I needed to become a good proofreader and editor, but remaining a member has allowed me to stay at the top of my game. Even though I am an Advanced Professional Member, I still benefit from doing courses with the CIEP, to refresh what I know or to keep up with an industry that keeps changing.

That’s not even what’s best about the CIEP. Being a member is not just about having the CIEP’s ‘seal of approval’ (read ‘logo’), it’s about belonging to a community that supports you and challenges you. The forums are a great place to go when you’re stuck and need the hive mind’s input. There’s always someone who can help you find the answer you need or point you in the right direction. The CIEP’s knowledge pool is vast, and chances are someone will be able to answer your questions about martial arts or architecture or nuclear fusion, as well as help you locate an obscure rule in a style guide so large you wonder what sort of mind it takes to come up with so many different rules about commas and full stops.

The CIEP is part of my daily life. Thanks to it, I have met people, online or in real life, who have become colleagues and friends I interact with every day. Being a freelancer can be a lonely business and the CIEP’s support (legal helpline, suggested minimum rates) is invaluable, but its members are what makes it indispensable.

Pedro Martin (Sanderling Editorial)

Renewing my CIEP membership is a no-brainer. I ended up getting my biggest client so far – both in terms of repeat work and total billable hours – from the ‘marketplace’ forum, so my membership definitely paid for itself.

I really appreciate how useful it is for people who are new to freelancing. I joined as a Professional Member with in-house experience, so I felt confident on the editorial side of things, but I was so clueless about transitioning to freelancing! Navigating your first few months as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader is especially tricky, so it’s great having access to so many knowledgeable and experienced editors who are happy to help with your questions.

And that’s on top of all the other membership benefits (like free guides for members, discounts on editing software and subscriptions, and the forums in general). I look forward to another year of advice, training, CPD, discounts, collegiality, resources and support for copyeditors and proofreaders with the CIEP!

Janet MacMillan

Janet MacMillanThere are so many reasons why I’m renewing my CIEP membership: the vibrant forums where you can get an answer to what’s on your mind day or night, the highly respected training and continuing professional development, the enquiry- and work-producing directory, the helpful guides and fact sheets, the mentoring and the standards, among other things.

But the fundamental reason for me is the community. The CIEP community has helped me through thick and thin, especially in the last couple of years when we’ve all been struggling through plagues, war/political conflicts, earthquakes, blizzards, fires and even loo roll shortages.

The fact that I have so many lovely colleagues all over the world is a true joy, and that I can see and chat to at least 20+ of them every week is an incomparable pleasure. I see community members boosting each other up, both professionally and personally, taking pleasure and pride in each other’s successes, supporting one another in all that the world throws at us, and doing gentle kindnesses for each other.

The gorgeous card someone sent me earlier this year, the gratuitous offers of help with work and CIEP commitments when I faced trying caring responsibilities recently, the unexpected, but touching, comment on my first haircut in over two years, the entertaining GIFs someone likes to send, the ridiculous jokes and banter among members on social media, members travelling long, long distances to meet up, so many members working so hard for the common good, are all part of the CIEP community. To paraphrase a mid-2021 comment by a colleague in an international Cloud Club West Zoom meeting: the fact that I retain any semblance of sanity is, to a huge extent, thanks to the CIEP community. I wouldn’t be without it!

Caroline Petherick

I’ve subscribed to CIEP since the early nineties, and right from the start – even before I managed to access the infant internet – I found the sub worthwhile, because by being a paid-up member I got relevant training, hence confidence in what I was doing, combined with the expertise of some experienced editors one to one. That helped me start my business, even though for the first few years it was slow. Then, since around 2000, with the developing range of resources and support that the CIEP has provided, membership has been intrinsic to the success of my business and (particularly with the forums) to my enjoyment of life at the laptop. I can’t imagine being without the CIEP.

Alex Mackenzie

In a face-to-face conversation recently I found myself describing why our virtual CIEP network is so valuable to me. No, we’ve never met in person, but we are in weekly (some of us daily) contact. Our online video meetups – Cloud Club West (CCW) – is where (mostly) international members meet for professional support and online company.

Working from home is isolating anyway, and in this profession things can get pressurised and tense, with moments of complete loss and mind-boggling confusion. (The usual culprits: misbehaving tables, testy authors, a slow month, quirky layout, low motivation, time management, technology bugs, scope creep, grammar, ethics and copyright, to name a few). We need to reach out to like-minded people sometimes.

Two years ago, CCW spawned another smaller accountability group comprising seven members who spur each other on to market ourselves and get more clients. Both groups share personal and professional stories (even displaying our pets, children, artwork and knitting) – the CIEP membership makes this possible. (Read more in our blog post.)

What I value is the breadth of experience in editing and proofreading, from newbies to Advanced Professional Members. Being reflective about language is what many of us have always enjoyed (we speak close to 20 languages, from Afrikaans to Luxembourgish). But we come at it from all angles (history; environmental and social sciences; role-playing games; politics; law; economics; education; maths and statistics; chemistry, as well as English literature and linguistics). And we are spread across the globe – in diverse personal contexts – with fascinating stories to tell.

This means there’s always someone to offer advice, answer a query or point towards an alternative approach. This is an excellent professional resource and I always have a running list of queries for the next meeting. As we all value investing in high-quality CIEP training, we recommend courses to each other, and sometimes buddy up to work through them together too. And it’s nice to put faces to names when they pop up in the forums.

I know I speak for many in the CIEP when I say, the professional network is a major pull for continuing our membership.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: woodland by Larisa_K on Pixabay.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

What resources does the CIEP offer?

The CIEP offers a wide range of support and professional development material on proofreading and copyediting. In this post the Institute’s information team summarises the resources available to our members and to the public.

Here’s what we’ll be looking at in this post.

  • CIEP resources
  • guides
  • fact sheets
  • focus papers
  • the CIEP blog
  • newsletters and
  • what’s coming up in 2022

CIEP resources

Our information team works with experienced editorial professionals and industry leaders to provide trusted advice and practical knowhow on working with English language texts. These range from tips on getting started, gleaned from practitioners’ years of experience, to the fine details of editorial markup and proofreading etiquette, plus insights into evolving usage and when to recognise it’s an ‘it depends’ situation rather than a rule of grammar.

Guides

Our guides provide a basic introduction to the various skills and knowledge needed to work as an editorial professional. Digital versions of all the guides are free for CIEP members. They encompass such diverse subjects as editing cookery books, pricing freelance projects, working with self-publishers, and editing scientific research articles.

 

 

Fact sheets

Fact sheets are brief introductions to a topic or issue related to practical aspects of editing or proofreading, or working as an editor or proofreader. They aren’t comprehensive but give tips related to the topic and a list of further resources. There are currently over 20 factsheets and the number is growing; topics range from macros and gendered language to scope creep and emotional wellbeing.

Editors work on all kinds of text, from marketing materials, theses and reports to blogs and websites. However, a core area of work for many editors is still books, for print or online publication. All books are different, but many adhere to a standard basic structure. This helps the author and the publisher order the information, but more importantly it helps the reader navigate the finished book, making it a truly useful and accessible resource.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Anatomy of a book

As soon as you agree to take on work for a client, or to complete a task for a colleague, you are under an obligation to ensure the work is completed as agreed. But whether you are a business owner or an employee you will always have other tasks on your to-do list: juggling expectations and moving deadlines, managing yourself and others, chasing invoices and marketing your services, as well as coping with personal matters that may have an impact on your capacity to work. Do you have a plan for how to cope if disaster strikes?

MEMBER RESOURCE: Building a business resilience and disaster plan

Focus papers

Focus papers explore an aspect of the English language or editorial practice that:

  • challenges assumptions
  • offers a new perspective on, illuminates or addresses a problem
  • helps readers better understand the value of professional editing, either their own practice or as potential users of editorial services (or both!).

They are written by well-known and expert names in their field, including CIEP honorary president David Crystal, linguist Rob Drummond and editor Sarah Grey.

If only the whole world had a language in common, war could be avoided. Thatʼs what LL Zamenhof thought when he developed Esperanto in 1887. Esperanto wasnʼt meant to replace anyoneʼs home language, but it would create a common ground for people from different backgrounds. It would make communication easier and more direct, reducing the need for go-betweens like translators and interpreters.

FREE RESOURCE: In a globalised world, should we retain different Englishes? by Lynne Murphy

Serendipitously, just hours after the CIEP asked me to write about whom, an email landed in my inbox. It included this: ‘Patients whom have already received notification …’.

MEMBER RESOURCE: To whom it may concern, by Jeremy Butterfield

 

The CIEP blog

The CIEP blog aims to provide useful and entertaining articles for anyone interested in editing, proofreading, the English language, starting and managing an editorial business, and publishing more widely.

Whether it’s race, sexuality, gender, disability, religion or faith, socio-economic background or any of the other many ways we describe ourselves, as editors, we are going to come across texts that describe people who don’t share the same backgrounds and experiences as ourselves.

Editing outside your experience, by Nicholas Taylor

 

Editorial judgement calls for an understanding of context, for knowing your stuff when it comes to technical matters (whether that’s the finer points of grammar or the finer points of Word or the finer points of inorganic chemistry, if that’s your niche), for knowing when to press ahead and when to leave well alone, and for knowing what resources you need and how to use them. Each of these skills can also be applied to the way you run your business.

How can we apply editorial judgement to our businesses?, by Sue Littleford

Newsletters

We produce two bi-monthly newsletters: The Edit for members, and Editorial Excellence for anyone who wishes to subscribe. Both highlight new resources and blog posts on a particular topic or theme.

Coming in 2022 …

And there’s more to come … In 2022 we hope to publish guides on developmental editing, legal editing, and corporate and marketing communications. There will be fact sheets on keyboard shortcuts, editing LGBT+ content and medical editing, and focus papers by Laura Summers and other well-known names. No doubt the wise owls will appear more than once on the blog, alongside regular contributors including Sue Littleford and Andy Coulson.

Wrapping up: CIEP resources

Now you know what CIEP resources are available, have a look at the ones that are relevant to you. Don’t forget:

  • You can download free fact sheets and focus papers (and even more if you are a CIEP member).
  • Guides provide handy introductions to the skills and knowledge needed to work as an editorial professional.
  • The CIEP blog is updated with new content regularly.

Which CIEP resource has been most useful to you so far? Which one are you planning to read next? Let us know in the comments. If you don’t already receive our Editorial Excellence newsletter, click on the button below to subscribe.

I’D LIKE THE NEWSLETTER

About the CIEP information team

Liz Dalby, Cathy Tingle, Julia Sandford-Cooke and Harriet Power are the CIEP’s information commissioning editors. If there’s a topic that you think could be covered in a blog post, fact sheet, focus paper or guide, drop the team a line at infoteam@ciep.uk.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credit: man reading by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

CIEP social media round-up: April and May 2021

From spoof biographies to snacks, annual reports to fact sheets, conferences to quizzes, April and May 2021 combined fun, advice and endless opportunities to get engaged online. In this round-up, we cover:

  • Special days
  • Improving your business and working practices
  • Sharing CIEP resources
  • Conference excitement
  • Wordy chat
  • Quizzes and other fun stuff

Special days

Immediately as April started there was a special day to celebrate – April Fool’s Day. We posted an article about Grove Music Online’s Spoof Article Contest, which has been running now for 20 years. You can read the winning entry, plus the runners up, in the article. The judges commented: ‘It was hard to miss that the biographies took a turn for the macabre, perhaps inevitable as we begin year two of a pandemic. Whereas our 2016 contest saw a surprising number of flatulence artists among its biographees, this year we saw an unprecedented attention to the mode of death.’ What future world events may cause a resurgence in spoof flatulence-artist biographies, we wonder?

On 16 April we noted, in our pyjamas, that it was ‘Wear your pajamas to work day’, and on 26 April we were organised enough to note that it was ‘Get organized day’. Oh goodie! An opportunity to buy yet another notebook.

We celebrated the Oscars in late April by sharing a list of the books behind the nominated films and discovering what’s behind the term ‘red carpet’.

Improving your practice

Sharing advice and tips is a big part of what we do. Two of the articles we posted to help our followers improve their practice were written by CIEP members, and one of them is worth keeping in mind as you trawl through the many articles offering principles for a successful start-up or listing must-dos as a beginner. CIEP Advanced Professional Member Helen Stevens’s Take my advice – but also don’t lists ten pieces of advice where the opposite might also well be true. We continued this advice/anti-advice theme with two other curated articles: ‘Why procrastination can help fuel creativity’, which looked at the role of the unconscious mind in invention, and ‘The benefits of distraction’, based on a review of a session at the ACES 2021 conference, held in April.

One piece of advice that is unequivocally worth taking, however, especially as your freelance business grows, is CIEP Advanced Professional Member Hazel Bird’s suggestion to produce an annual report. This will give you a regular chance to assess where you’ve come from and where you’re going. ‘Use yours as a pathway to shed the aspects of your business that pull you down and achieve more of what you want’, she says.

Keeping up to date with technology is essential to running a successful editorial business so we took notice when Jane Friedman helpfully revealed how to turn a Microsoft Word document into an Ebook, and Crystal Shelley usefully reviewed Word Macros, giving our own Paul Beverley a mention.

Sharing our resources

Our focus papers and fact sheets continue to be popular on social media. Over the past two months, we’ve promoted the following recent additions to the CIEP resource library.

 

Conference excitement

Also well-received was the super PDF of the #CIEP2020 conference session write-ups. At the end of April, we promoted this free booklet to our members, followers and friends via social media. We hope you enjoyed this conference recap, and that you’ll join us for more fabulous online learning at #CIEP2021!

In May, we used Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to promote a competition offering ten free #CIEP2021 conference places. Then, in early June, we spun an online Wheel of Names to randomly select the winners. The response was phenomenal – thank you to the hundreds who entered, and congratulations to our lucky ten!

Those of you who are members of the Society of Young Publishers might also have attended SYP Scotland’s #SYPRefresh conference. The CIEP sponsored one of the sessions and offered delegates a free copy of the Your House Style guide.

Wordy chat

As ever, tips, talk and debate about words formed a large part of our social media output, from the language of painting and decorating to the origin of haggis, from the history of ‘gilding the lily’ to the differences between ‘lead’ and ‘led’, ‘unsatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfied’, ‘use to’ and ‘used to’. We also learned about five words that don’t mean what you think they do when you look into their origins.

One word we had certainly never heard before, because it’s brand new, is ‘boffice’. Can you guess what it is? You may even have one of your own. Give up? OK, here’s the link.

Quizzes and other fun stuff

The CIEP offers its own fun quizzes, but we love other people’s quizzes too. There was a good crop during this period, including puzzlers about US v UK English, how certain words were coined, libraries and book titles based on their obscure subtitles.

Talking of obscurity and book titles, how about The Adventures of a Pin, Supposed to be Related by Himself, Herself or Itself (someone there could do with the singular ‘they’), Ducks; and How to Make them Pay, Cabbages and Crime, and Who’s Who in Cocker Spaniels? You can find all these wonders and 73 more in ‘77 strange, funny and magnificent book titles you’ve probably never heard of’.

Those among us who are parents of young children laughed long and hard at the twisteddoodles cartoon that one genius social media team member chose for the late May Bank Holiday Friday Funny, entitled ‘If going anywhere with small children was a magical fantasy novel’. This inspired 123 reactions on Facebook, with particular admiration given to Chapter Six, ‘The Snackening’. The last chapter is ‘The Vow to Never Go Anywhere Again’, with the title of Book Two, the sequel, revealed as ‘The Forgotten Vow’. Talking of which, we’ll see you again at the end of the long UK summer holidays. Have a lovely sunny time, and don’t forget the snacks.

Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: notebooks by Kiy Turk on Unsplash.

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

CIEP social media round-up: February and March 2021

Ah, the relief in February and March 2021 as spring approached, and finally, well, sprang. We marked this hopeful period by promoting a new course and guide, and by celebrating significant days and seasons.

In this article, we cover:

  • Word for Practical Editing course
  • promotion of our Going Solo guide
  • BookMachine’s Editorial Season
  • Twitter threads, racism and the media
  • special days and seasons
  • business tips and tricks
  • language love.

Our three-month promotion of the Word for Practical Editing course had a fantastic response across social media, with nearly half a million impressions across our various platforms, and nearly 5,000 click-throughs to the course page. It clearly strikes a chord with budding and more experienced editors alike who want to maximise Microsoft Word’s ability to do the heavy lifting when it comes to routine editing tasks.

We hope you enjoyed watching Sue Littleford, author of our guide Going Solo, spin a wheel of names! The ten lucky winners each received a free copy of the second edition of this popular start-up guide.

Another popular event promoted heavily on social media was BookMachine’s Editorial Season. We ran a special membership-growth campaign, and Advanced Professional Member Kia Thomas featured in one of the Season’s regular Wednesday Wisdom slots. Kia shared her experience and insights into editorial freelancing during a live Q&A that was well attended and very much enjoyed.

We also used Twitter threads to promote Going Solo and a blog post about proofreading as a side hustle. Threading is a useful tool for Twitter promotion that requires more in-depth information than can be squeezed into 280 characters.

The CIEP was especially grateful for this functionality during the controversy that erupted following comments from the Society of Editors’ former executive director, Ian Murray, on racism and the media. Commenting on something as serious and important to our industry via social media needs to be concise and clear but substantive. Threading allowed us to make a statement about the CIEP’s commitment to conscious language, representation and structural barriers, and to continuing to learn and do better. You can find our commitment to anti-racism on the home page of our website.

Special days and seasons

During Covid times there has been a feeling of making the most of special days and other periods of celebration. As we’re wordy people, this usually involves reading the relevant books. February was LGBT+ History Month and we published three articles that explored some great LGBT+ reads: history books; books that celebrate and educate; and 42 LGBTQ books that will change the literary landscape this spring. To mark that special day in mid-February – you know, the one celebrated all over the world – that’s right, National Radio Day on 13 February (why, which mid-February date did you think we meant?) we included a much-admired poem from Brian Bilston re-creating the tuning of a radio. At the beginning of March it was World Book Day, of course, eagerly anticipated as the most popular ever. To celebrate St Patrick’s Day on 17 March we shared an article covering 25 books by Irish authors you should read.

On 8 March it was International Women’s Day, but the articles we posted celebrating women during these two months weren’t confined to a mere day. From women in the OED to a quiz to find out which literary heroine you are, and from what Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s time in lockdown teaches us to how well you know a selection of literary classics by women, quite apart from all of the articles we featured that were written by women, quoted women and built on the work of women – well, it was as if women and girls make up, what, 49.6% of the world’s population or something.

Business tips and tricks

As ever, we posted a good number of articles to help our friends and followers keep ahead in their businesses. The title of ‘Video killed the meeting room star’ was given a thumbs-up by our Facebook audience, but its contents proved equally admirable as it explored the do’s and don’ts of making video calls. Articles on pricing structures, being able to accept feedback and when and how to fire a freelance client offered useful advice, and posts condensing the lessons of decades of non-fiction editing experience and how to edit face to face, as well as a quiz on the anatomy of a book, were useful in a different way. For inspiration (and what business person doesn’t need to be inspired sometimes?) we posted a great article about seven writers who were also editors (and the books they edited), and another about the innovative influencers on TikTok whose book reviews are having a major effect on publishing sales.

Language love

But if you’re an editor or proofreader it’s no use being strong on the business side if you’re not cutting the mustard with your knowledge of language and punctuation. We covered this side of things too, with articles about prefixes, countable nouns, brackets and parentheses and commas between adjectives in creative writing.

And then there’s the content we post because of the sheer love of language, which we know our friends and followers share: ‘6 Latin abbreviations you should know’, ‘When repulsive wasn’t disgusting’, ‘Irony and the OED’ and an article on imps and elves, and what they have to do with vaccines. A wealth of etymology and history, all rounded off with a bang-up-to-date short article on whether it’s correct to say O.K., OK, ok or okay. The answer, apparently, is now ‘ok’, with a nod to the fact that ‘maybe mmmkay will achieve formal status one day’. ‘K’, as one of our Facebook followers succinctly said.

In February and March 2021 we showcased CIEP courses and guides, spoke out on important issues, and curated seasonal content and tips to improve your business and language skills. We hope you enjoyed following us as winter turned to spring.

Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: grass in sunlight by Aniket Bhattacharya; women by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum, both on Unsplash.

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

CIEP social media round-up: December 2020 and January 2021

December and January were all about giveaways, grammar, goals and good dogs.

December saw the launch of our first holiday calendar campaign, which offered daily giveaways and time-limited discounts on CIEP fact sheets, focus papers, courses, guides, articles and conference-session videos. The promotion was a big hit within the global editing community and drew attention to the huge bank of valuable content offered by the CIEP.

In January, we began testing Facebook ads and commissioned a social media consultant with expertise in delivering these to targeted audiences. A three-month-long campaign featuring our Word for Practical Editing course will run until early April 2021.

We also reposted links to older but still relevant problem-solving CIEP blog posts about customer service, punctuation, word counts, multi-lingual editing, editing technical materials, plain English, editor websites, editing scams, being a young editor, business content, keeping fit and being a freelance introvert.

My grammar and your grammar, sitting by the fire

The CIEP has a new Getting to Grips with Grammar and Punctuation course, and during December and January grammar, punctuation and language usage featured prominently in our curated content, from an adverb quiz to whether it’s acceptable to say ‘try and’, the order of adjectives, the prefix un-, the word ‘multiple’, the dative pronoun ‘methinks’ and if it’s wrong to say ‘from whence’, as ‘whence’ means ‘from what place, source or cause’. This kicked off its own debate, as we suggested ‘this ever-changing world in which we live in’ was a similar example of superfluity in language and asked if anyone could name the song ‘from whence’ these lyrics came. A number of followers and friends suggested that the right words (from ‘Live and Let Die’) were ‘this ever-changing world in which we’re livin’’, which sent us down an internet rabbit hole via Stan Carey at the Macmillan Dictionary Blog to an interview with Sir Paul McCartney himself. After all that, it turns out Sir Paul wasn’t sure of the lyrics, either.

Goodbye 2020, hello 2021

As it was the end of one year and the beginning of the next, there was a certain amount of looking back and looking forward, plus a festive article on what you should read based on your favourite Quality Street. Well worth a read at any time of the year, although it might make you hungry. We celebrated 2020’s incredible book sales (an article that got 118 likes on Facebook, the equivalent of a hearty round of applause), concentrated on setting goals for 2021, were inspired by small professional editor groups, and looked to start our own editorial blogs.

What’s in a name?

Near the beginning of December we posted a story about a set of Isaac Newton’s notes, sold for auction at £378,000, that was almost destroyed by fire when his dog, Diamond, jumped up on the table and upset a candle. Obviously our first thought was ‘what an excellent name for a dog’. As is Smurf, the starring example of a CMOS article on commas and appositives. Should you write ‘your dog Smurf’ or ‘your dog, Smurf’? It depends on whether Smurf is your only dog; if so, use the comma. This set us thinking: if Smurf isn’t your only dog, what would your others be called? Moomin, Kermit and Simba, perhaps. And in fact, Simba featured in an article in Dictionary.com about where the world’s most popular pet names come from. But not everyone wants to go mainstream, and the beauty of pet naming is that you can use a word hardly anyone has heard of like, say, sporange (the botanical structure that creates spores), which is remarkable for being the only word in the English language that rhymes with orange. Pretty distinctive. Although yelling it across your local park might be more distinctiveness than you’d be comfortable with.


Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Photo credits: silver reactions by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

Getting to grips with grammar and punctuation

By Annie Jackson

Do you go cold when you hear the words ‘dangling participle’? Does the mere mention of a comma splice or a tautology make you anxious? Do you have a faint memory, perhaps from primary school, that people who write ‘proper’ English never start a sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But’? Perhaps you’ve been flummoxed by the terms used in the school materials that you’ve had to work with while homeschooling your children (you are not alone: see this article by the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen).

Actually, you almost certainly know much more about grammar and punctuation than you realise. The ‘rules’ are often no more than old-fashioned preferences or prejudice, and may not be relevant anyway. It all depends on the text: a novel for young adults, an information leaflet for patients at a doctor’s surgery, or an annual report for a major company – each requires a very different approach. The tone in which the document is written, and the intended readership, will dictate how strictly grammar and punctuation rules should be applied.

If you work with words, in any capacity, and you feel that your knowledge could do with a brush-up, then the new online course from CIEP, Getting to Grips with Grammar and Punctuation, could be just what you need.

Why both grammar and punctuation?

Let’s see how the Collins Dictionary defines grammar: ‘the ways that words can be put together in order to make sentences’. It defines punctuation as ‘the use of symbols such as full stops or periods, commas, or question marks to divide written words into sentences and clauses’.

This explains why these two subjects have to go hand in hand. Grammar is about putting words together; punctuation helps the reader to make sense of those words in the order in which they have been presented. Used well, the grammar and punctuation chosen should be almost imperceptible, so that nothing comes between the reader and the text. If they are used poorly, the reader will be confused, may have to go back over sentences as they puzzle out the meaning, and may eventually stop reading as it’s just too hard to figure out.

For the want of a comma …

Take this well-known example. ‘Let’s eat, Grandma’ is a friendly invitation for Granny to join the family meal. If you remove that tiny comma, the poor woman is at the mercy of her cannibal grandchildren.

More seriously, a misplaced comma can have huge legal and financial implications (see ‘The comma that cost a million dollars’ from the New York Times).

Poor grammar can have unintentional comic effects (dangling participles are particularly good for this, as you can see here). It could even affect your love life (see this Guardian article ‘Dating disasters: Why bad grammar could stop you finding love online’).

So it’s worth knowing the rules you must follow, and those that can sometimes be ignored.

Why this course?

Getting to Grips with Grammar and Punctuation is for anyone who works with words. It aims to:

  • clarify the basic rules of English grammar
  • clarify the rules of English punctuation
  • discuss some finer points of usage and misusage
  • explain the contexts in which rules should or need not be applied.

This course alternates units on grammar and punctuation, with two basic units followed by two that go into more detail. Each unit has several sets of short, light-hearted exercises on which you can test yourself to see how well you have taken in the information. The penultimate unit discusses finer points of usage, and finally, there are three longer exercises on which to practise everything you’ve learned from the course. There is no final assessment for the course, but every student is assigned a tutor and is encouraged to ask for their help if any questions arise as they work through it.

There is an extensive glossary of grammatical terms as well as a list of resources, in print and online, for further study. This includes a number of entertaining and opinionated books on grammar which will prove, if nothing else, that even the pundits don’t always agree.

By the end of this course, you should have a clear idea of some of the finer points (and many of the pitfalls) of English grammar and punctuation. You should have developed some sensitivity to potential errors, acquired greater confidence, and learned strategies to make any written work you deal with clearer, more effective, more appropriate and even, perhaps, more elegant. And we hope that you will have found it interesting and entertaining at the same time.

Annie Jackson has been an editor for longer than she cares to admit. She tutors several CIEP courses and was one of the team who wrote the new grammar course. Despite many years wrestling with authors’ language, and before that a classics degree, she realises there’s always something new to learn about grammar.

With thanks to the other members of the course team who contributed to this post.


Photo credits: books by Clarissa Watson on Unsplash

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

 

CIEP social media round-up: June and July 2020

In June and July the CIEP looked to create, as well as curate, our social media content.

A CIEP commitment to anti-racism

In June, the CIEP – like many other organisations – sought to respond meaningfully as we reached a tipping point globally: a point at which anti-racism demands more of us than lip service to dismantling structural inequality. On 5 June, we published A CIEP commitment to anti-racism across our social media channels, setting out five steps that the CIEP will take to contribute to change.

‘As editors and proofreaders,’ we noted, ‘there is so much that we can each do to make space for and amplify voices that have historically been and continue to be marginalised and silenced.’ A warm reaction on Facebook (87 likes/loves and 14 shares), Twitter (71 likes and 25 retweets) and LinkedIn (117 likes/loves/applause) demonstrated how keenly this resonates. Both privately and publicly, members expressed emotion at being part of a membership eager to take action; some followed up swiftly on this commitment, forming a working group to translate the CIEP’s words into practice.

Throughout June, the CIEP social media team curated relevant content, including Do the work: an anti-racist reading list, and promoted Black voices, spanning #PublishingPaidMe, a campaign asking authors to reveal their advances and expose race-based pay gaps, a call from the Black Writers’ Guild for sweeping changes in UK publishing and a celebration of Reni Eddo-Lodge’s success as the first Black British author to top the UK’s official book charts. We also shared Alex Kapitan, the Radical Copyeditor, explaining why saying ‘All Lives Matter’ makes things worse, not better, Sophie Playle’s thoughts about how to avoid unconscious bias in your creative writing, and a list of 5 steps freelance editors can take to combat racism. And these efforts continue, the CIEP’s social media being key to our commitment ‘to [seek] out and [amplify] BAME voices and the voices of editors/proofreaders of colour worldwide’.

All the free stuff

As we went into July we continued creating social media content by publicising a range of free-for-everyone and free-for-members fact sheets and focus papers across all our platforms, including a love letter to editing cunningly disguised as a focus paper by our honorary president, David Crystal, called ‘Imagine an editor’. This was popular with our audiences, but we also found that explainers, such as ‘Training for proofreading or copyediting’ and ‘The publishing workflow’, went down well too.

 

Of these, our fact sheet on ‘Proofreading or copyediting?’, which could be used to explain to clients the differences between the two disciplines, went down a storm. We also posted CIEP quizzes 1, 2 and 3 across our platforms, in case any of our audiences had missed them. These got a particularly good response on LinkedIn, with ‘pub quiz’ participants comparing scores and one follower commenting: ‘Fun and educational every time 😊’.

Never forgetting our bookshelves, or the location of the toilet

Pieces on bookshelves, how to organise them, and the books we put on them are always popular with our audiences. In June and July we offered articles (some from the archives) on a bookshelf illusion mural in Utrecht; a list of all the ways to organise your bookshelf, including using the Dewey Decimal System; organising books by colour only; (if more inspiration were needed) how 11 writers organise their personal libraries; and (if all else fails, presumably) the artistic arrangement of books around a person or persons in order to recreate a series of dramatic scenes.

We also took a virtual trip to a writer’s studio in a garden, which could just as easily have been an editor’s studio, we thought (or hoped). One Facebook follower asked: ‘Does it have a toilet? Not going in the bushes …’. Apparently it does, but it’s concealed behind a secret panel. Here’s hoping it’s easily found in moments of need.

Talking of virtual trips, our Facebook followers made the role of books in their lives very clear when, on 1 June, we posted a link to a story about how Covid-19 is forcing authors to change their novels in ways such as avoiding references to flying and including details such as temperature checks. ‘I want to read about a world that’s not burning and going down the drain. I read to escape, not to be reminded that I can’t leave the house’ posted one follower. Oops. Luckily, later in the month we had the opportunity to share an article listing ‘50 brilliant books to transport you this summer’, and then even later (in July) to introduce our audiences to a piece that reviewed novels as if they were travel destinations. The reviewer of Les Misérables, in ‘A misérables trip to Paris’, advises ‘If you’re going to visit Paris, don’t go during revolution, I’d say, or at least don’t bring the kids’. Wise words indeed.

Loving letters

Another thing guaranteed to transport you is a simple handwritten letter, and during lockdown people have been turning to this lo-tech but lovely form of communication. We shared a story about a Colombian library’s campaign to spread positivity through anonymous letters, and a New York Times piece (restricted access) reminding us of the value of letters in these email-soaked days: ‘I do trade big, juicy emails with some people in my life, but receiving them isn’t quite the same as slitting open a letter, taking it to a big chair and settling in for the 20 minutes it takes to devour it’. We were also reminded of the value of using letters in marketing, with a Throwback Thursday blog by Louise Harnby which urged us not to forget the old ways.

Time for fun

As ever, we made space on our social media platforms for fun items, such as Futuracha, the font that changes as you type. And for anyone who has trouble remembering the difference between ‘born’ and ‘borne’, and ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, we posted the clever homophone artwork of Bruce Worden of Homophones, Weakly. Finally, ‘Words we know because of Star Trek’ went down well. So, until the next social media round-up, we send you this sincere wish: live long and prosper, friends.

Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Photo credits: letter and coffee – Freddy Castro on Unsplash

Proofread and posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

Dealing with imposter syndrome

By Lisa de Caux

The Manchester CIEP local group meets every three months, and chooses a discussion topic in advance. ‘How to deal with self-doubt, lack of confidence and imposter syndrome’ was a very popular topic with those who attended the January 2020 meeting.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines imposter syndrome as ‘The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills’. Meanwhile, googling ‘imposter syndrome’ brings up more than three million search results. And a quick survey of the CIEP’s forums reveals that it’s a problem familiar to many editors.

I posted on LinkedIn ahead of the meeting to elicit thoughts on #ImposterSyndrome. I had a fantastic response, and people were so willing to share their experiences, just as they were later in person. We had a lively and engaged meeting – we all had stories to share, from the newbies among us to more experienced members.

This post covers what came out of that meeting, focusing on imposter syndrome and editorial professionals. I’ve included a list of helpful resources at the end.

What is imposter syndrome?

I’ve shared the dictionary definition, but let’s talk about it in a less formal way. It’s the feeling that ‘I’m not good/qualified enough’. It’s about self-doubt and lack of confidence. We set ourselves exacting standards as we work on clients’ projects, and this tends to carry through into the standards we set for ourselves and our businesses. You don’t want to feel as though you haven’t met your own expectations.

Most of the people at our meeting were freelancers, so we concentrated on this area. As a freelancer, especially working from home on your own, you can experience feelings of isolation. While one of the benefits of being a freelancer is a lack of structure, which allows self-direction and taking control of your business, the flip side of this is there is no one to automatically check in with you. When you’re an employee, you have appraisals and regular meetings with your manager to provide validation, and you have conversations with colleagues about questions and minor hiccups while making a cup of tea. As a freelancer, there is no built-in interaction with people – you must build it yourself. It’s one of the reasons the CIEP’s forums are so popular – they provide a chance to talk to others who understand where you are coming from.

The CIEP has a newbies forum, where I posted about imposter syndrome after our meeting. It struck a chord with a lot of members. While imposter syndrome may be more common for newbies, it can come back in waves for more experienced professionals. As we moved through our meeting, we talked about how imposter syndrome might be triggered by changing your business’s direction (for example, moving from non-fiction to fiction) or by taking the next step professionally (for example, upgrading to a higher level of CIEP membership). Instead of taking pride in your achievement, you may feel anxiety in case people think that standards must have dropped for you to have succeeded. When something new and unexpected happens, you may feel that you *should* have known. Then imposter syndrome builds up and you discount your experience.

Recognising it

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced editor, imposter syndrome reflects the level of stretch you’re going through and how far out of your comfort zone you are. We all agreed that it’s particularly important to acknowledge this feeling if it starts to take over more of your thoughts. It can impact your mental health, and then you need to take action. We talked about the practical impact of imposter syndrome too – for example, the knock-on effect on the way you quote for work. Imposter syndrome can encourage you to be apologetic about raising rates, especially for existing clients. Whether you’re thinking about your mental health or the practical impact, a strategy to cope with imposter syndrome needs to be found.

Overcoming imposter syndrome

The group suggested lots of ideas. Some come from external support (for instance, talking to people) and some are internal support mechanisms (like creating a win jar). What suits one person won’t necessarily suit another. Call it what you will – this is an individual demon/monster/battle to face.

We recognised that, as a newbie, you have less experience and less chance of positive feedback to turn to. At this stage, talking to people is so important. Then, as you complete more projects, you will, hopefully, receive good feedback. An even better weapon against imposter syndrome is repeat work. It’s a real vote of confidence in your service. Although experience brings great benefits, we spent a lot of time talking about coping strategies that are useful to all.

Coping strategies

You can record positive feedback in a notebook, a ‘sunshine file’ or a ‘win jar’. You could have a gratitude journal. It’s so useful to have tools that you can constantly keep updated. A ‘win jar’ is a jar you keep on your desk, where you leave positive feedback (for instance, a complimentary email). If you feel like you need it, reach in and pull out a win to read. A sunshine file is a similar concept. Since our meeting, I’ve created a Word document where I save screen shots of positive feedback.

Another way to cope is to understand the value that you provide – not everyone can do what you do. How do you track improvements over time? What experience and training do you have? When you’ve found a typo or factual error, what impact would it have had on the document if you hadn’t found it? Keep track of these achievements!

At the meeting, we were keen to embrace talking to friends and colleagues – CIEP local groups and forums really come into their own here. Attending face-to-face courses or professional development days can provide reassurance about what you do know.

Finally, our conversation moved gently into the positive side of self-doubt. A little (in moderation) will keep you learning and trying harder. It will improve your business. It may lead to a particular type of training. I was surprised to discover that a long course (like the PTC proofreading course) is not completed by everyone who signs up for it. Completing training acts as a confidence boost!

There’s such a lot to think about – at the end of the discussion, we were all ready for our mid-meeting comfort break.

You are not alone

I’ve focused on the editorial profession, but imposter syndrome does not have industry boundaries and it does not respect your level of experience. I recently caught up with a friend who’s an oncology consultant. I explained about writing this blog and asked if she’d come across imposter syndrome. She smiled in recognition – yes, she often feels it and often talks about it with her medical colleagues.

Every conversation gives me the clear message: you are not alone.

A lot of us are going through it, including the people you assume are absolutely fine. You can find a coping strategy that suits you. My own battle with imposter syndrome will continue, I’m sure. If you’re battling too, I wish you the very best!

Helpful articles and blogs

Mental Health Today: Imposter syndrome
Northern Editorial: Time to kill the monster
KT Editing: Imposter syndrome and editing
The Avid Doer: Imposter syndrome: Intuition in disguise?
Harvard Business Review: Overcoming imposter syndrome
Louise Harnby: I’m a newbie proofreader – should I charge a lower fee?

 

 Lisa de Caux is a CIEP Intermediate Member and coordinator of the Manchester CIEP local group. She specialises in editing and proofreading for business. Lisa is a career changer, and spent many years as a chartered accountant before becoming a proofreader.

 


Face-to-face interaction with peers can help with imposter syndrome and provide a great boost to confidence and motivation. A recent blog post covered upcoming in-person CPD, and the CIEP’s local groups meet regularly. (And don’t forget that booking for the first CIEP conference opens later this month!)


Proofread by Joanne Heath, Entry-Level Member.
Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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