Links and Stuff
Links to editing articles, blog posts, resources, and other interesting material
Thinking about becoming an editor? The EFA page “So You Want to Be an Editor?” provides information about and links to education programs, conferences, books, podcasts, websites, and more items to help guide would-be editors (in-house or freelance) on how to break into the industry.
If you’re new to freelancing or you’re trying to build your editing business, check out this helpful resource from the EFA: “Resources for New Freelance Editors”
Online dictionaries, thesauruses, vocabularies
“For the writer—any kind of writer—the dictionary is an indispensable resource. No matter how extensive vocabulary the writer may have, no matter how skilled he may be in selection of words, there is always the likelihood that use of the dictionary may sharpen his discrimination in the use of words, may supply him with a synonym better than his first choice, or may even open up a new line of thought.”—Edward N. Teall, Putting Words to Work (1940), 78–79.
Merriam-Webster Collegiate (pronunciations, examples, thesaurus)
Includes American Heritage, 4th ed. / Wiktionary / WordNet 3.0 / Century Dictionary & Cyclopedia / Roget’s Thesaurus (pronunciations, examples, thesaurus)
American Heritage, 5th ed.
Includes Webster’s New World College Dictionary / American Heritage, 5th ed. / English Wiktionary / Computer dictionary / Investment dictionary / Webster's New World Law Dictionary
Has English-Spanish, Spanish-English
Lexico: English and Spanish Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Spanish to English Translator
Includes Random House Dictionary / Collins English Dictionary / Online Etymology Dictionary (word origins)
Samosapedia: The definitive guide to South Asian lingo
Includes English-Spanish, English-Japanese, English-Korean
Word Spy (new words)
Drug Slang Code Words, from the DEA (2018 report, thanks to Katharine O'Moore-Klopf)
Glossary of 1950s slang (Thanks, Aubree)
Urban Dictionary (slang, crowdsourced)
One Look (more than 1000 dictionaries, and good reverse dictionary)
Computer Desktop Dictionary (plain-language computer/IT terms)
Investopedia (business and financial terms)
Getty Vocabularies (art, artists, architecture, geographic names)
Panlexicon (thesaurus and word finder)
Forvo (only pronunciations)
ACES conference handouts and resources
While this material is available freely to you, you may not reuse these materials, in any form, without the consent of ACES and the authors.
To keep up with editing news, I used Scoop.it, a content curation program, for four or five years. It let me gather posts on proofreading and editing, evaluate them, and add comments on them. You can visit my page here.
Now, however, the free version of Scoop.it has restricted me to 50 articles, much less than the 1300 I've posted. And the premium version is $14 a month, which is more than I'm willing to pay. So I'm going to go back to posting links and commentary here under "Monthly Updates," and as I add links at the top, I'll delete older ones from the bottom.
Estimating job times (for editors)
Years ago, someone (sorry I can't credit you personally) on the Copyediting-L discussion list posted the following formula for estimating the amount of time required to edit a manuscript, and I’ve found that it works fairly well:
1. Choose a short sample from within the manuscript.
2. Edit it, and calculate your words/hour or pages/hour from that for your first read.
3. Add 50% for your second read.
4. Add 10% to 15% for odds and ends of work.
5. You now have your total time estimate and can set a fee accordingly.
Try the Chicago Style Workouts at http://cmosshoptalk.com/chicago-style-workouts/
Pam Nelson also has some good grammar workouts at https://aceseditors.org/resources/quizzes.
January 2021: From Carol Saller posting at CMOS Shop Talk: “How to Format a Novel for Submission”
When someone has a bad idea, do you say they have "another think coming" or "another thing coming"?—Grammar Girl
From ACES: “The Secret to Great Proofreading”: Assume all content is guilty until proven error free.
Another post from ACES: “Working with the Author.” Good tips (and nice cat picture), but for an in-depth treatment of this important subject, I recommend Carol Fisher Saller’s book, The Subversive Copy Editor.
December 2020: CMOS Shop Talk: Your Dog[,] Smurf: Understanding Commas with Appositives. Helpful for me, at least, as I often have difficulty with appositives.
From ACES: Think like a detective as well as a style cop: “The Endnote Clue.”
Another from ACES, on how much (and how) to edit, “A Machete or a Razor?” with apologies to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose books I enjoyed as a child.
November 2020: Grammar Girl looks into “How Come We Say ‘How Come’?”
Grammar Girl with an interesting look at “What Is a ‘Crony’?” Note the use of Netspeak.org, which is helpful in checking word usage.
October 2020: “Who Gets Capitalized in a Novel?” A post on handling fictional names and titles, by Carol Saller.
Grammar Girl on 'Dialog' or 'Dialogue'?
July 2020: A look at who, whom, and their various forms and history: “Whomspun History,” by Grammarphobia.
“Commas of the Founders,” by Mark Allen. How grammar (specifically use of the comma) has changed over the last 200 years. A sample edit of a letter from James Madison to Congress in 1810.
Something many other editors might relate to, “Confessions of an Accidental Editor,” as well as tips on what to do if you’re editing something technical and you don’t understand what it says.
June 2020: A note from Chicago: “We now prefer to write Black with a capital B when it refers to racial and ethnic identity. At the same time, we acknowledge that, as a matter of editorial consistency, White and similar terms may also be capitalized when used in this sense. We continue to recognize that individual preferences will vary, and we acknowledge that usage may depend on context. A correction has been made to CMOS Online and will also appear in subsequent printings of the seventeenth edition.” (Frank: AP style has made a similar change.)
A good article from ACES on “Building a Stable Workload as an Editorial Freelancer.” It can take years to build stability into your workload—which often translates as regular and repeat clients—but it pays off in the years that follow.
May 2020: Research tips, plus just plain interesting, from Daniel Russell: “Comment on ... The Future Through the Past - Using archival news to see what's next in COVID.” Go to the bottom of the page to access links to the previous post.
April 2020: “Rolodex, on rotation”: an entertaining look at the Rolodex and the word’s enduring use by Merrill Perlman. Articles and posts by Merrill are always interesting and instructive.
“42 Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Business”: Handy marketing advice for editors
March 2020: From Grammar Girl in honor of National Grammar Day: “Top 10 Writing and Grammar Mistakes That Even Published Authors Make”
“Advice to a beginning editor,” by James Harbeck, which has good advice for all editors.
Grammar Girl answers the question, “Do You Capitalize Disease Names Like Coronavirus?”
Are you hunkering down during the pandemic? Grammar Girl explains what it means.
Helpful post from Merriam-Webster: “A Guide to Coronavirus-Related Words: Deciphering the terminology you're likely to hear.”
Operating with a skeleton crew these days? Grammar Girl examines the term.
February 2020: Grammarphobia addresses the question ‘Premier’ or ‘premiere’?
Entertaining and educational, “To hyphenate or not to hyphenate?”
Check out the Mother Jones style guide.
January 2020: A young writer named Ivy brought this page to my attention, with its many tips and resources on writing, research, revising, editing, and proofreading. Thanks, Ivy, and may your writing and editing prosper!
A great post by Tania Pattison, full of resources: “Building an editing/proofreading business: things to read.” Check it out.
Karol Krol with an in-depth article on How to Build a Website Fast and Easy Using Wix. Helpful if you’re thinking of creating a new website for the new year, or revamping an old one. Another good resource is Daniel Heuman’s post on “How to Design a Website for Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Translators,” which is a little old but has some timeless principles.
Slate on “Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.”
The 2019 Publishers Weekly salary survey. This is based on employees at publishing houses, so it doesn’t necessarily correspond to freelancers—although I noticed it said “The gender composition of publishing did not change in 2018—80% of respondents said they were women.” From what I’ve seen at editorial conferences, that’s about right.
“How to Become a Deep Web Super Sleuth”: Helpful article from the Global Investigative Journalism Network.
Super searcher strategies (PDF) from Mary Ellen Bates, presented at Internet Librarian 2019.
A very clear answer to this question from Grammar Girl: 'It Is I' Versus 'It Is Me'
A helpful column from the “American Editor” blog: “On the Basics: The ongoing challenge of finding editorial work”
Advice for editors from Carol Saller at CMOS Shop Talk: “Do You Overstep When Editing Fiction? Three Easy Cures.”
Liz Dexter at LibroEditing on “What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word”
The latest new Merriam-Webster words, and a blast from the past over the use of “thou.”
A post by Carol Saller: “Sure, You Got A’s in English—But Do You Know Where Commas Go?”
An interesting look at ampersands by Grammar Girl
Grammarphobia on the misconception that “none” is always singular
What copy editors do, and why you need one. Please take note, authors.
Advice on overcoming a problem that new editors often face: You can’t get editing work without experience, but you can’t get experience without getting hired: “5 Ways to Break the Vicious Circle of Newbies.”
An informative post from ResearchBuzz: “If You’re Not Using More of Google News’ Date Options, You Might Be Missing Out”
Putting this here for my reference too: Japan Style Sheet: The SWET Guide for Writers, Editors and Translators
Wired on why it’s so hard to catch your own typos. Even editors hire other editors to go over their work.
Editorial discretion: phone numbers in dialogue
A good article from An American Editor blog: “How Not to Network.” Don’t be I.M. Pistov in your communications.
An interesting look at the English language: The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a reminder of the English language's amazing enormity
An older post from The Week that’s attracted a lot of attention on the news site I oversee: “English is weird.”
Helpful post from Iva Cheung on having a house style guide
BBC article on “The commas that cost companies millions”
The Macmillan Dictionary Portmanteau Quiz. I found myself saying some of these answers are wrong. I suspect it’s because of the difference between British and American usage. (Note: As of June 2020, there are now 23 quizzes posted.)
The latest Chicago Manual of Style Q&As are good, as always.
Chicago Style Workout 28: Grammar, Part 2. Good review. I missed some of these.
Don’t wrack your brain (Grammar Girl)
Grammar Girl on ‘Aggravate’ or ‘Irritate’? Better check your style guide.
Negotiating and delivering bad news with grace—advice from Laura Poole
A nice article showing how it’s done: “How to Copyedit The Atlantic”
Historical-fantasy novelist Guy Gavriel Kay on the slow process of editing his work: an author talks about working with his editor.
Brianne Hughes talks about The Cybersecurity Style Guide. Interesting to see how it all came together. It’s an immense amount of work (I put together a small style guide once).
Recommended: Chicago Style Workout 25: Numerals versus Words
When to Capitalize ‘Mom’ and Other Nicknames and Terms of Endearment (from Grammar Girl)
“20 Truths from 20 Years of Editing” by Adrienne Montgomery. Great!
Why Copyeditors Should Pitch a Flat Fee (Part 4 of a series, with links to the other parts), by Jeanette Fast Redmond
Word wars: The battle between American and British English. From THE PRODIGAL TONGUE: The Love-Hate Relationship between American and British English by Lynne Murphy
Grammar Girl with helpful advice on lay vs. lie.
Is there enough? I’ve often been asked this question by folks trying to get into editing, proofreading and/or book indexing. It also applies to starting almost any business or looking for a job, of course. It’s not a question of “enough.” It’s a question of finding your match.
A good infographic on grammar mistakes: The Top 10 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid Making.
Customers pay attention to the little things: another study of how typos and bad grammar can affect a company's credibility.
Helpful article from Writer’s Digest: “10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You—But Should”
Hand signals to avoid on cover artwork.
An editor comments on the scourge of the typo.
A good post from Carol Fisher Saller: What Copyeditors Can Learn Online (Maybe Not What You Think).
Jesus misspelled, and other famous typos.
Grammarphobia examines “different to,” “different than,” and “different from.”
Counsel on “this this” and “that that” from Grammarphobia.
From the Yahoo! Style Guide on the value of proofreading on the Web: Error-free content underscores your site’s credibility. The Web Credibility Project at the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab found that typographical errors are one of the top 10 factors reducing a site’s credibility.* In the 2002 “Stanford-Makovsky Web Credibility Study” (a research report by the Stanford lab and Makovsky & Company), researchers noted that “Web users do not overlook simple cosmetic mistakes, such as spelling or grammatical errors. In fact, the findings suggested that typographical errors have roughly the same negative impact on a website’s credibility as a company’s legal or financial troubles.”** Once credibility is diminished or lost, it can be hard to rebuild.
* B. J. Fogg, “Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility.” A research summary from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University, May 2002, http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/ (accessed December 29, 2008).
** B. J. Fogg et al., “Stanford-Makovsky Web Credibility Study 2002: Investigating What Makes Web Sites Credible Today.” A research report by the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab and Makovsky & Company, Stanford University.
A helpful website: Clichés: Avoid Them Like the Plague
Advice on using i.e. and e.g.
The 100 words most often misspelled ('misspell' is one of them) as presented by yourDictionary.com. Each word has a mnemonic pill with it and, if you swallow it, it will help you to remember how to spell the word.
Some old but familiar words, and how and why they've endured—an interesting article from Mental Floss.
A nice list of examples for using who/whom from Grammarphobia.
• Most of us probably use online dictionaries—and editors use them a lot. We learn from them, and as this article explains, they also learn from us.
• How good grammar can help your professional life: An article from the HBR blogs.
• An nice infographic about the Oxford (serial) comma.
• Wise counsel from The Editorial Eye more than three decades ago:
Commandments for Copyeditors(#36, 12/79)
1. Thou shalt not change the author’s meaning.
2. Thou shalt not introduce new errors; especially shalt thou not change something correct to something incorrect.
3. Thou shalt change nothing except to improve it.
4. Thou shalt hearken to thy instructions and do precisely what is expected of thee.
5. Thou shalt honor and obey those in charge over thee.
6. Thou shalt mark clearly and write legibly in a color that photocopies well.
7. Thou shalt protect the manuscript from rain, hail, wind, coffee, children, pets, and all things damaging.
8. Thou shalt meet thy deadlines.
9. Thou shalt assume nothing but shalt seek answers to all things doubtful or unspecified.
10. Thou shalt read and study the English language continually.
• For bilingual children’s stories, children’s videos, coloring pages, activities, and more, visit http://www.freekidstories.org/, a great site run by my talented daughter Lori.
• AP vs. Chicago: A guide comparing Associated Press style and Chicago style for editors, writers, teachers, students, word nerds, and anyone else who gives a dollar sign, ampersand, exclamation point, and pound sign about style.
• For a daily update on news and views from editorial professionals, as well as a place to post questions, share advice, and enjoy the occasional pun war, join Copyediting-L, a very active discussion list with very helpful and knowledgeable editors.
• This isn't about editing, but it's related. I've found that most editors like to read (a shocking fact, I know), and I'm among them. I like to read science fiction in particular, and when I find good science fiction and fantasy (SFF) books on the Web, I bookmark them. A site I've found that has SFF books which I've enjoyed (for free) is BaenCD at the Fifth Imperium. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did.
• Ask a Librarian at the Library of Congress. If you've searched for some information or the answer to some question and just can't seem to find it anywhere on the Web, you might want to try this free service. I've found that the researchers who answer questions I've posed have gone way beyond the call of duty to help me discover answers, while being cheerful, courteous, and a pleasure to communicate with.
• The best site for editors I've ever come across is the Copyeditors' Knowledge Base, owned and managed by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf. For editing information, advice, and resources, it's the place to go.
Email: email@example.com Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net