Editing Shit I Don’t Know the First Thing About

Welcome back from driving across a couple states! Now edit something in an entirely new field with a new style. OK, no problem. How do I do it?

1. Slowly

I look up every fucking thing. Wikipedia (ahem) will tell me whether something is animal, vegetable, or mineral, and that gives me enough to look through the (143-page badly designed) style manual.

2. Twice

Usually I have one serious pass where I look up everything I wouldn’t swear on my mother’s dearly departed soul was true. The second pass is quicker. I make sure I haven’t introduced any errors, or missed anything. When I’m editing something new new, I take two serious passes.

3. With Coffee

Prop these fucking eyelids up!

4. Using Context Clues

One kind of acronym is italicized. Why? I have no fucking clue, but the author is consistent about it. So it must be A Thing. And so I scour the style section under “italics” and then google the term itself so I can figure out whether it is animal, vegetable, or mineral. Then I figure what it is and thus why it is italicized.

5. With Find and Replace and Two Style Manuals

I have both a printed out style manual and one open on my desktop. Sometimes I have a very pointed question, such as is a hyphen used with “auto-“? I do a Ctrl + F “auto” because it’s a question I understand. If I need to figure out how to set footnotes, I turn to the paper copy and read the whole section, because I might find the answer to a question I didn’t even know to ask.

6. With Limited but Focused Internet Breaks

Hello blog readers, what are you doing today?

5 responses to “Editing Shit I Don’t Know the First Thing About

  1. Ah, come on! Tell us! what’s the discipline?

    P.S. Do you extend your desktop onto a second screen? If you don’t, you must – immediately! Lets you have whatever resource you want open on one screen with the manuscript still open on the other. That’s what I do today (every day).

    • No dice, writer.

      I have just the laptop, I have as many screens open as I can manage at present time. I did get an extra screen from the Young Man, but we have yet to put it up anywhere.

      • Can you imagine having screens open, and not having to go dig them out from underneath other screens? Imagine the scenario. you can keep the manuscript open,full screen, turn your head ever so slightly to the right and on the second screen, run down the instructions on, say, citing a secondary source in, the house style of “behavioral brain science.” Shift your head back to the left, make your edit, run your eyes down the page of the manuscript (still full screen), then mosey on back over to the BBS style instructions for the management of table captions. Fabulous! You are really only ever just one serial port away from bliss.

      • Writer, that was actually pretty funny. Just thought you should know. (Although I’d still have to do some find and replaces, takes a lot of time, and then my eye doesn’t stumble across an obscure hyphen rule I’d never have noticed otherwise.)

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