Tag Archives: citations

Flying Solo: The business of editing references

In her latest Flying Solo post, Sue Littleford discusses how to edit references more efficiently (and more profitably).

When I’m copyediting, the references can take longer than the main text. There’s a lot involved and the scope of work can be quite broad – I’m often required to complete or correct inadequate references, as well as attend to all the styling issues. And on pre-edited files, there are a lot of styling issues!

So it’s clear that editing references can depress your words-per-hour rates, and a bad biblio can absorb almost the whole time or money budget just by itself. And that then depresses you!

So what can you do to avoid being out of pocket?

I recommend a two-pronged approach:

  1. being as efficient in your workflow and practices as you can, to keep your hourly rate nearer to where you want it to be, and
  2. pricing correctly for references in the first place.

If you’re not confident with references, you should take a look at the CIEP’s References course, of course!

So here are my ten top tips to make editing references more profitable.

Curtail the time you spend on them with good workflow habits

1. Be sure you know the referencing style that’s to be used

Refresh your memory even if it’s one you’re familiar with – we have to skip between different styles so often, it’s easy to start using the wrong one. I edit both books and journals for one university press, and the style for references is different for each. So I always look it up and make sure my head’s in the right place before I start.

2. Edit the references first

It eases you into the job, and then you know when you’re checking the citations that the dates, page ranges, author order and spellings you have in the refs list itself are the right ones. If you do references last, then you can find yourself backtracking over the text to correct those things, and that’s wasteful of your time.

3. Consider editing the citations next, in one go

I find this one depends on the editor and the nature of the job. I know some editors who swear this is the way to go, and others (I’m in this second camp) that check them off as they work through the text, so they are edited in context. And we all know how important context is!

Suppose you have two references: Smith and Patel 2018a and 2018b. You can see from the article titles that 2018a is about topic X and the second is clearly about topic Y. If you edit the citations out of context, you may find that the details are fine and match up. Big tick. But editing in context means that you may want to query whether 2018b was meant where 2018a was given.

However, in a law book, the footnotes may just be references to legislation and court cases, and it may be more efficient to edit those together for style and to check them off against any tables of cases and legislation the book contains. Like I said, context matters.

4. Print out the references list once you’ve edited it

I know, I know, we’re discouraged from printing when we don’t need to (I hope you’re using paper from sustainable sources, anyway, and printing double sided if you have a duplex printer). I know you can have a split screen with the references scrolling at the bottom and the text at the top.

I’ve tried all that, and I can say that – for me – having the printed references is the quickest way – especially when I’m working with pre-edited files and I don’t have the luxury of covering the references with highlighter as I mark them off. You could, I guess, have a copy of the references in a separate file, and then highlight to your heart’s content, but now it’s getting a bit messy and open to error. Errors are bad – and take up time to make and to resolve.

Highlighter pens

For author–date referencing, I tick off each reference as it’s used. For a back-of-the-book bibliography, I also note the chapter number that it’s been used in. That can be handy information later, if you’re trying to resolve problems.

For short-title referencing, I tick off each reference as it’s used. But now I definitely mark which chapter it’s been cited in, because most of the short-title jobs I have require the bibliographical detail to be given in full at first use in each chapter. I also underline the words I’m using for the short title. That way I can be sure that short or full titles are given in the correct place, and that the form of short titles is consistent throughout.

I can also jot notes to myself if I spot a missing closing quotation mark, or a reference out of its alphabetic position, or what have you, as I mark off the references as they’re used, then I make those corrections all in one go instead of dodging back and forth between text and reference.

5. Limit your fact-checking

Ensure you’re conscious of the requirements of the brief. For theses and dissertations, it may be completely hands-off for references, so don’t even start trying to fix the content, even if you’re allowed to edit for style.

Some publisher briefs will say to check all the content and find missing details, correct errors and so on, and to check links are working and go to the right thing.

Others will just want you to look at the styling. Obey the brief – don’t feel obliged to go beyond it. You’re not being paid for that work!

If you have a brief that says to correct the content of each reference, then still beware rabbit holes! We tell ourselves it’s faster to look up something ourselves than to raise an author query (AQ). That’s true, very often. But if you find yourself going to three or more sources to try to verify the details, or you’re spending more than, say, five minutes on a particularly recalcitrant reference, then know when to stop. Raise the AQ and move on to the next reference.

6. Be aware what macros might do for you

In his macros book, Paul Beverley has macros that will look up phrases on Google for you, or check places on a map or open Google Translate (GoogleFetch, MapFetch and GoogleTranslate). Try them out and see if they suit the way you work.

Get paid for the work: Pricing and time estimation

7. Know how long it takes you to edit a reference

I’m serious – don’t be put off by knowing the range is anything from 15 seconds to 15 minutes or even longer. Log your time separately for references and for running text (and for tables, while you’re at it). Note the time, and how many references you dealt with (and at what depth of intervention: style only, looking things up, supplying additional details, finding replacements for broken links). Do this for a few jobs, then analyse your figures and see what your longer-term averages are. Then repeat the exercise in a year and see if you’ve got faster!

8. Know how many references are in the job before giving a price

Now you know how many references you can do in an hour, hour in, hour out, when you’re pricing a job, you can ask for the number of references, as well as what the client wants you to do with them, on top of the word count for the rest of the text and so on.

You can calculate a per-reference price separately on top of the editing of the running text, or a time-based price, depending on your circumstances and preferences.

An alarm clock

Bonus tips!

9. Know how to handle oddities, and make notes so you don’t keep reinventing the wheel

Epigraphs? Tweets? Do you know how to handle those? The first time you encounter them, make a note (I use the notes function in MS Outlook – nothing fancy, but always findable).

Some people will tell you an epigraph doesn’t need a reference. Well, that’s not so true. Epigraphs are excluded from fair use, for instance, so it’s probably a very good idea to reference them properly.

By all means, don’t clutter the epigraph source line – name, or name and source book is probably going to be fine, but do have the information findable in the references list. Some epigraphs benefit from having the original year of publication appended, if the author is using them to demonstrate how long some ideas have been knocking around.

Well-known quotations can probably do without a reference in some publications, but not in others. If you’re working on a text that is going to omit references for them, it’s still worth checking that the quotation was actually produced by the person it’s attributed to – a lot of them have the wrong name attached.

Protect your author, even if you don’t produce full bibliographical details. Why? I once found that a plausible quotation attributed to Gladstone in fact came from the scriptwriters for the movie Khartoum. That was a rabbit hole worth diving into! Oh, and as Churchill famously didn’t write, ‘That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.’

Famous quotations can be infamous misquotations.

Tweets and other social media ephemera can be a challenge, so know where you’re likely to find good advice. APA, CMOS, MLA, New Hart’s Rules and others all have sections on the unusual kinds of things you may need to style (or find) a reference for.

If the style guide you’re working to omits them, there’s quite often a statement in the style guide that says which of the major published style manuals underpins the client’s own, or you can use the one that’s the closest match to the rest of the styling.

10. Stay up to date

As colleague Ayshea Wild observed to me recently, ‘It’s one of those areas where CPD is so important – citation formats are shifting all the time.’ That’s self-evident, given that we’re on APA7, CMOS17, MLA9 and so on, but it’s frequently overlooked – and house style guides also morph over time, so do be sure you have the latest version when you start each job.

So there we are: ten top tips to help prevent reference lists running away with you, and to help you be paid properly for working on them. If you have a tip you’d like to add, pop it in the comments!


Want to learn more about how to deal with references?

Check out the CIEP’s References course here.

About Sue Littleford

Sue Littleford is the author of the CIEP guide Going Solo, now in its second edition. She went solo with her own freelance copyediting business, Apt Words, in March 2007 and specialises in scholarly humanities and social sciences.

 

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: books by Hermann, highlighters by jakob5200, alarm clock by Alexas_Fotos, all on Pixabay.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Forum matters: References

This feature comes from the band of CIEP members who volunteer as forum moderators. You will only be able to access links to the posts if you’re a forum user and logged in. Find out how to register.

Mention to an editor that a project contains references and they are likely to envision a long list of citations that may or may not be appropriate or even needed, and that may be incomplete and multi-styled. A search on ‘reference’ brings up over 2,600 posts (about 400 specifically on citations/referencing) across all forums that cover (among other subjects) styles, references to, ways to reference people, using Word, PDF markup, definite articles, the Bible, information sources, languages, macros and the effect of being in different generations.

Essentially, Luke Finley summarised what browsing the forums can do for you in A fun moment courtesy of ProperNounAlyse: ‘I do like those moments when you can make copy-editing look like some kind of dark art.’

Citations

First to the pure business of citations, which is a core activity for all academic editors and for many works of non-fiction. If you are a regular checker of citations and a macro user then you may already have taken advantage of Paul Beverley’s CitationAlyse; if not, then have a look at Citation checking made even easier and its accompanying YouTube video.

If you are in need of reference management software then that is also dealt with on the forums. Although mention of a discount may be outdated by the time you read Using EndNote to style references, the information about its features, new approaches and the subsequent discussion is well worth a read. There are also threads about Word’s Reference tab (see Word Referencing et al.) and all sorts of macros – some of which become reference lists in their own right (Efficient PDF Markup).

Helpful pointers

Software or hardware updates can occasion glitches and if you don’t have your own IT guru or can’t find a solution via googling, then a quick share on the forums can often help you to keep on checking those references (see Copy & paste weirdness – new PC installation). For people to give you the best answers to many of these queries it can help to upload an example file or image, as demonstrated by the thread Macro for endnotes.

If you are still finding your way as an editor, the forums are a great place to sound out approaches to referencing, whether because of inconsistencies in styling, as in Serial commas in text but not citations, which leads to a steer on how to query; or whether it is helping students settle on the best approach, as in Academic copyediting: combinations of citation and style guides. Checking formatting is also dealt with, from problems with numbering in Reference indent query to addressing the titled in Full name or initials after ‘Sir’ in references. The latter thread leads from knights to the invasion of Grenada to indexing seven Sir Johns! Forum members seem well-versed in matters of etiquette, should you need advice, not just on lords but also on References to Professor/Doctor.

If you are seeking guidance specific to a publisher’s way of working then it is wise to put their name in the topic title, as in Palgrave Macmillan style guide. With the number of members who have signed up to the CIEP forums and their range of experience, you are bound to get a useful (and sensible) response that will help you do the best job for that (new) client.

If you are working with a non-fiction self-publisher then you are probably going to have to make many more decisions about how to style the references and be extra careful about checking them – which was the sort of advice sought in Best citation system? – while you will benefit from the sense expressed in Inclusion of the definite article in journal titles.

Specialisms

Thanks to the reach of CIEP recruitment, many language references can be checked with those who really know their etymology. German referencing issues leads to Ancient Egypt, while Dir. – French abbreviation opens up the world of job titles.

Referencing also comes up in fiction, as in references to Age appropriateness? and the place of violence in a children’s fantasy novel; and references to the 1980s in Exposition/First person POV and how different generations might be frustrated to allusions they won’t understand.

The broad church that is editing (and the CIEP) means that whatever your reference requirement you are likely to find an answer, whether it is on Where to check plant (fruit) species, Citing foreign language films in Chicago or ways of Quoting Whole Bible Chapters. This last led to a personal offer of help, which is not uncommon on the forums, as confirmed by the fulsome thanks in Shouting out about Janet!

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: beach by Anthony Cantin, bookshelf by Yury Nam, both on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Curriculum focus: References

In a new regular feature for The Edit, training director Jane Moody shines a light on an area of the CIEP’s Curriculum for professional development.

Knowledge of referencing comes into Domain 2, Editorial knowledge and practice, subdomain 2.2, Editorial knowledge. The competencies that a copyeditor/proofreader would be expected to have are shown in the middle column. A basic understanding of each of the referencing systems is essential, even if you rarely come across them in your day-to-day work.

Knowledge criteriaEditorial competencies, professional skills and attitudesResources to support learning/CPD
2.2.4 Citations, references and bibliographies• Has ability to recognise and edit Harvard, Vancouver and short-title systems
• Is aware of typical styles and variations (data required, ordering/punctuation of data, elision, capitalisation, use of italic and bold)
• Knows the difference between citation (details of a source or authority) and quotation (wording taken from a source or authority)
• Understands how to treat quotations
• Has ability to order bibliographies, cite academic publications, online sources and manuscripts, deal with/create multiple bibliographies
• Understands need to cross-check for consistency
• Understands and can handle footnotes and endnotes
• CIEP suite of courses Copyediting
• CIEP suite of courses Proofreading
• CIEP course References
• Guides to different referencing styles (New Hart’s Rules, Chicago, APA, MLA etc.)

So where do you go to gain this knowledge? As the introductory note indicates, there are more resources than can be listed in the curriculum itself, which lists some obvious resources in the third column, in addition to the general ones given in the introduction. The CIEP online course References goes into great detail about the topic and includes several pages of links to useful resources. If you need to deal with citations, references and bibliographies on a regular basis, this course will help you to master them. The CIEP’s new ‘References’ fact sheet also provides an introduction and brief overview of this subject.

Judith Butcher’s Copy-Editing (4th edition) covers the basics of bibliographical references in chapter 10. The Chicago Manual is now in its 17th edition. Part III covers ‘Source citations and indexes’ – a full third of the book. The manual is available online and some helpful resources are freely available there. One page you might find useful if you work with author–date referencing systems is the Chicago style citation quick guide. This page gives examples of different reference-list entries accompanied by an example of a corresponding in-text citation. If you need more detail, there is a link to the full contents page but, frustratingly, that’s the end of your free access and you need a subscription to get to the text of the manual itself. On the CIEP blog (25 November 2020), the ‘wise owls’ talked about references, too.

Many institutional libraries provide excellent guidance on referencing and citations. For example, the De Chastelain Library of the Dundalk Institute of Technology has a useful page analysing Harvard referencing. The Open University library has a publicly available page (Quick guide to Harvard referencing) that is very useful. The University of Sheffield library includes video tutorials on referencing, among other useful topics such as detailed referencing style guides that you can either consult online or download as PDFs. Some services are generally available; some are only fully available to alumni. If you are associated with an education institution, you may be able to access Cite Them Right, from Bloomsbury, for example. Cite Them Right demonstrates the principles of referencing and how to avoid plagiarism, and you can create an accurate reference in a variety of styles.

There is a wealth of information available to help authors to create accurate references in the correct style for their publisher. It’s a shame that they rarely consult these resources – although the time spent correcting authors’ idiosyncrasies is the bread and butter of many a CIEP member, so perhaps it’s just as well that they don’t!

About Jane Moody

Jane has worked with books for all her working life (which is rather more years than she cares to admit), having started life as a librarian. She started a freelance editing business while at home with her two children, which she maintained for 15 years before going back into full-time employment as head of publishing for a medical Royal College.

Now retired, she has resurrected her editorial business, but has less time for work these days as she spends much time with her four grandchildren and in her garden.

 

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: library by Skitterphoto on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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