Thursday, April 5, 2018

Blogging A-Z: E Is for Editing

            I’ve been a copy editor for decades. When Jack was laid off from his reporter’s job after Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post, one of his drinking buddies was a production editor at McGraw-Hill. She offered him copy editing work on textbooks, so I taught him how to be a copy editor.
            I taught him the way I learned, through the Chicago Manual of Style. Jack was an excellent writer and knew how to turn poor writing into good, but he needed guidance in explaining why he made grammar changes, and he needed to learn to pay attention to formatting (marking
heads, subheads, or sub-subheads, for example), as well as keeping track of proper names and their spellings, among many other details.
            He became good enough at this work that after a few years he was able to get a job on the copy desk at Business Week magazine. And he ended up working there much longer than he worked as a reporter. Not only that, we had frequent discussions verging on arguments on copy editing issues at the dinner table, which our school-age daughter found weird—but she was listening. As a grownup librarian today, she often e-mails me to ask whether a sentence she’s read in a book or a newspaper is grammatically correct.
April’s writing challenge is to blog every day, with each post beginning with a letter of the alphabet from beginning to end. We skip Sundays, except for April 1, so as to have 26 days in the month.

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