Friday, January 1, 2021

Editing Rant

Hey all, Robin here. So we have received the edits back from Laura Jorstad, for Nolyn. She is one of the two copyeditors we've worked with over the years because she (a) really knows her stuff (b) is familiar with some of the common mistakes that Michael makes, and (c) is a great Goldilock's editor - meaning she "is just right" - not too heavy-handed or to light on the touch. 

One of the things I do for Michael is handle the bulk of the "heavy lifting" on copyediting reviews.  Generally, it's a bunch of hitting accept or reject and anything that requires rewriting I highlight and send his way.  Now, as some may know, I'm an ex-engineer (my degree is in Electrical Engineering), and as such, I'm very analytical. Also, I have a high attention to detail -- which is good when editing.

One thing I've learned over the years is there is a lot of disagreement within the grammar community when it comes to (a) compound words and (b) hyphenation.  That's why you establish a set of references that you adhere to. One of the important tasks when going over edits is to stay consistent with your selected benchmarks.  For us, we use the Merriam Webster Dictionary, and because it depends on what edition you are working with, we use the on-line version because it's the most up to date.  

In going through some of the edits, I found something that enrages my "analytic mind."  Notice the following use of hyphens:
  • back-to-back
  • hand-to-hand
  • face-to-face
Makes sense, right?  But imagine my frustration to learn that shoulder-to-shoulder is WRONG based on Merrian's. In this case, there shouldn't be any hyphens and it is written as "shoulder to shoulder." The engineer in me resits breaking the "pattern," but my belief in adhering to the "bible" tells me I must.  It doesn't mean I can't be mad about the fact. 

NOTE: For those who are interested, I think it's because shoulder to shoulder is considered an idiom while the others can be an adverb or an adjective.

Maybe only I stress over such things.  But I found it interesting.


  1. I am so with you, Robin. It seems a lot of grammar rules have changed since my high school English classes. I have great teachers who pounded those rules into me. And now it seems so many have changed. Drives this engineer crazy, too. Sigh.

  2. Imagine your life is to identify blogs online and then spamming them.

    Glad to hear the edits are coming along. I spent a good amount of time editing my stepsons college papers and totally get it (on a smaller scale of course).

    All the best for 2020!

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