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My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Back on Topic

Dear Bob, 

I have a couple of questions re the editing suggestions in CV, which I hoping you can help me with. 

The first relates to use of hyphens and dashes. I see that in my efforts to make the CV look a bit more as though it is a printed, professional document, I have over-used the en dash. From what I can see through your suggestions, it should be used for page ranges, but not 'co-chair' and the like. Yet, when typeset, it would seem to me that hyphens look like en dashes. Any wisdom on this would be very helpful! (I haven't yet changed the hyphens/dashes in CV, hence my query at this stage). I do like your suggestions for em dashes - but again don't really know when to use them. I can see you have suggested them in cases where either colon is used up in the sentence, or is about to be used.. 

In a good font that's not trying to be fancy or too quirky, en dashes are clearly distinguishable between the length of an em dash and the length of a hyphen. En dashes are never used in place of hyphens for compound words. Where they occur in text would be joining two phrases, one of which might be a compound. The example that Chicago gives is a "New York<n>London flight." Use of the en dash indicates that the words "New" and "York" go together. It's not a new York-London flight. I hope that makes sense. I've seen some authors or maybe even a press style sheet indicate that an en dash should be used to connect two nouns of equal weight, but that's very subjective in my opinion -- and certainly not the norm.

As far as my rules, such as they are, for em dashes: to me they are never to be used in place of a semicolon -- that is, to join two complete sentences together. (Some writers do this.) Rather, they are more to make a subsequent or additional point to the original one, but without relegating the text after the em dash to a parenthetical. It's a softer pause than a full stop (to use the Britishism). Again, I hope that makes sense.

The other query relates to the use of the comma in, for eg, 'XXX, YYY, and ZZZ'. Almost everywhere it looks like I've omitted this comma, so I'd like your wisdom on the different (opposing) conventions around this, and why to go with the option of always inserting rather than omitting the comma - thanks. Also related to this is that if the comma is omitted in the original, such as the name of an organisation, should I be inserting it anyway for the case of consistency, or respecting the original? An example is:  Patagonian Department of Industrialisation, Competition, Science, and Research. In the case of the place of publication of a work, it seems a bit clunky to include the comma, as in: Abingdon, Oxon, & New York: Routledge - or perhaps it just looks this way to me because it is next to the ampersand. 

Among the reasons I loathe the AP style manual, which is to say US journalism and advertising conventions, is the absence of the serial (Oxford) comma. It makes for clarity in every case, which can never be said about not using it. If you want a great reason to use it, please see http://img.pandawhale.com/lCwkE7-why-i-still-use-the-oxford-com-QAUW.jpeg.

Another good example is "I'd like to thank my parents, the pope, and Mother Teresa" vs. "I'd like to thank my parents, the pope and Mother Teresa."

On organizational names or book titles and consistency, I always prefer to silently insert it in places such as bibliographies. Running text might be a different matter for recognizable organization names. And really, it's had to tell what a book title actually is without looking at the copyright page. I've seen publishers do different things with covers because the design looks better, but the Library of Congress info says something different. In the case of Abingdon, Oxon, and/& New York, frankly I like what Chicago says: Use only the first city and delete the others. As regards the comma next to the ampersand, APA (American Psychological Association) style, which covers a lot of the educational world in the US, doesn't mind it at all.

About the only organizations for which I and many publishers routinely honor the original spelling, capitalization, etc., is the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; don't ask why) and the occasional UN Programme.

Lastly, in cases where there is a capitalised 'T' in 'the', should this be made lower case in a title, even if it appears as a cap in the original, eg, A Millennial History of The University of Eastern Patagonia. In this case the university's names is 'The University of... ' and the often make a point of emphasising 'The'. 

Once again, such organizations make things very difficult for editors. Here in the US we have The Ohio State University, not to mention The Coca-Cola Company (and as a 20-year resident of Atlanta who spent way too many hours laboring in design and typesetting shops, I learned to enforce the latter vigorously). These days, I'm rather moody about such things. As an editor, I always want to lowercase it (it's not my job to uphold the style sheet of every organization out there); on the other hand, there is honoring the brand. I typically lowercase regardless of the desires of the institution, because I have my own brand to uphold. I like a consistent look. (Again, Chicago allows for, if not encourages, silently making such changes.)

One more query: why should the superscript be removed in '2nd national conference on... '? Is that to make it ready for typesetting, if that were to be the next step in a publication process? Often printed books seem to have the superscript, and so I guess I'm wondering whether it looks more professional to make a rule that all these will stay as superscript in my document. 

To me, superscripts have no place whatsoever in text, unless it's mathematical copy. If Microsoft Word didn't have a default setting for superscripts, I don't think it would occur to people to go in and manually change it. I think 2nd with a superscript looks very amateurish. As I tell people about Word's spell check, I don't want Bill Gates doing my editing, any more than he would want me doing his coding.

I ask all these minor questions just so I can settle on my own rules in the CV and also to learn from you about what are the conventions and reasons. 

Thanks very much!

No problem. I think you and I just wrote my next blog post. I'll change all the specifics.

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