I worked on an index recently that is destined for a university press consortium that is new to LandonDemand. The consortium represents five universities in a part of the country known for its excellent higher education. I will leave it at that.
The press offered an interesting detail about how it wants its final indexes to appear.
> Use subentries only for entries that have more than eight or ten page numbers. As far as possible, make sure that each subentry has multiple page numbers rather than a single page number.
That guideline would take some getting used to, although I'd do well to heed its advice. The level of detail in my indexes would be diminished, and I'd likely spend less time in composing them. Having done something a certain way for years, the shift would require an adjustment in my work practices. I can think of a few of my clients who probably wouldn't be wild about the change in approach, but maybe I've been overdelivering for too long. Speaking a few weeks ago with the freelancer who kind of inspired me into this business and finding out that she's charging about 33 percent more for her indexes than I am makes me think I could stand to pull out fewer hairs over this tedious task.
From the style sheet of one of the clients I rehabilitated earlier this year:
> Do hyphenate all participle-terminated prenominal compound adjectives (e.g., “participle-terminated” in this sentence).
> Do hyphenate predicative compound adjectives that are participle-terminated (e.g., “participle-terminated” in this sentence).
> Do not treat noun-adjective compound adjectives in general in the same way as participle-terminated ones.
> Do not hyphenate compound adjectives consisting of noun modifying noun (e.g., “water quality analysis”).
> Use an en dash in compound adjectives consisting of two joined nouns or parallel adjectives (e.g., “Thai–Cambodian border”).
> Do not hyphenate adverbially modified compound adjectives (such as “adverbially modified” in this sentence) even if the adverb does not end in -ly.
I admit freely that except for the line about the en dashes, I had to read the above about four times before I understood what the hell was going on. Not to pull the curtain back on the Wizard or anything, but I am not Mr. Grammar, which might be a surprising admission for copyeditor. (And to those folks who think the SAT is a predictor of future career success, if that's the case, I'd be an engineer today instead of an editor.) I know proper grammar, but I can't explain it. I can't tell you what all the different tense variations are or the names for anything other than the essential parts of speech, but I guess if my client list is any indication, I do a fair job out of making sense out of the whole deal.
Without any doubt, the person in my work career who could throw around all the names of tenses and parts of speech with the greatest facility was one of the worst editors--and certainly the worst manager--I have ever encountered.
On an unrelated note, some ignant author stories are lurking, but I need a little more distance between job completion and talking out of school before I write anything about them.