Thursday, June 14, 2012
I’ve been wanting to write two posts for quite a while, and I’ve figured out a way to combine them. Now if I can just write.
The issues deal with authors providing proper guides through their books. Such guides come in different forms.
1. Author/date citations. Authors, take note: An author/date citation (e.g., Jones 2009) is intended to, and must do no more than, provide a marker to an exact place in a properly compiled Works Cited list, or maybe a References list, if no other Jones 2009 appears. As a copyeditor or proofreader, I don’t want any other information except author and date, except a page number for a quote or “emphasis added” if the author feels the need to alter the cited copy. If your reference is to “Hitler 1928,” and that happens to take me to Bernard Hitler, Now I Am a Fountain Pen: The Story of My Bar Mitzvah (Flatbush, NY: Gravesend Press, 1928), so be it. No explanation required. The sole requirement is that every citation must have an exact match-up in the list at the end of the book or chapter.
You also can’t change the names of organizations to suit your purposes. The name in the references list is the name in your chapter in the citation — unless you tell your readers otherwise. That’s life.
2. Subheads. Love them, especially as a proofreader or indexer, and for different reasons. But the copy following the subhead needs to bear some semblance to the subhead itself. As an indexer, I’m often lured into thinking mistakenly that the author and editor may actually have known what they were doing when they assigned a title to a certain section of a chapter . . . only to bring up the matter four pages later into the discussion.
The issue of subheads brings up organization in general. I’ve mentioned this gripe before, but it happens weekly. I don’t want to be 200 pages into a book and read repeatedly what points the book is going to make or is trying to make. To me, it puts the author in the way between me and the content. If I want a first-person account, I’ll read one.
[This morning I picked up a book that my wife had left in the kitchen. I held it up to the dog and said, “Zooey, people read these things for pleasure. Can you imagine?” My mind is turning to mush.]
So, as an indexer, I don’t want to see subheads that introduce four pages of transition material and never mention the actual topic — unless I figure out your game early on, which unfortunately I never do soon enough.