Copyediting from A to X

October 15, 2014 § 9 Comments

copyeditor-cartoonI’ve recently hung out my shingle as an editor, and it’s been fascinating to look up and confirm bits of grammar and punctuation I’m “pretty sure” I know, but am now paranoiac about getting absolutely right. Over at Medium, there’s a great rundown on commonly confused words from Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer, including this lovely distinction:

One’s sweetheart is “hon,” not “hun,” unless one’s sweetheart is Attila (not, by the way, Atilla) or perhaps Winnie-the-Pooh (note hyphens).

It’s a quick, fun read and you’ll want to bookmark it–if not for yourself, for reference during future arguments with your editor.

Enjoy it here!


§ 9 Responses to Copyediting from A to X

  • Sammy D. says:

    Great post and congrats on new venture!

    Copyediting (yikes, should I have hyphenated that?) is something I always thought I’d enjoy and be good at, but never pursued. Other than during proofing my own amateurish posts where part of my writing process is looking up every other word in the wiki-Dictionary to make sure I’m using it properly. Of course, confirming my proper use of grammar is a close second.

    “Yikes” is a regular utterance along with some hair pulling!

  • Marilyn Annucci says:

    Thanks for this–I bookmarked it and will share with students (before teaching, I worked as a copyeditor for ten years). And note: “commonly-confused words” should be “commonly confused words.” Adverbs ending in “ly” are not hyphenated. I’ve realized, when editing papers from students as well as colleagues and friends, that many people do not know this.

    Here’s the word from The Chicago Manual of Style folks:

  • Thanks for this! I learned some things that I didn’t know I didn’t know!!!

    According to my Oxford dictionary both instances are wise guy which is different from what you have.

    “A smart aleck is a wise guy; a mobster is a wiseguy.”

    • Allison K Williams says:

      The article over at Medium is actually Benjamin Dreyer’s, and that may depend on your stylebook. Merriam-Webster agrees with Dreyer, so maybe it’s an Americanism?

  • aqilaqamar says:

    Reblogged this on Iconography ♠ Incomplete and commented:
    Very good linguistic advice 😀

  • When I ran the copy desk for a weekly newspaper, my colleagues wondered why I always had a dictionary open in my lap “because you’re the best speller in the newsroom.” Well, yeah, I was — because I was always looking things up.

    When it comes to matters of one word? two words? hyphenated? — two dictionaries are better than one. Merriam-Webster’s tends to under-hyphenate, especially where prefixes and suffixes are concerned. American Heritage is good for a second opinion, and so is the British/World English section of the online Oxford.

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