As an editor, you don’t always need to be an expert to know that something is wrong.
The owl family
If a piece contains internal contradictions, query it.
Strigi- or Stringi- ?
Often you can just check public references to find the correct form.
The "Strigis" have it
“”Strix” was the Latin word for owl. Ironically, it comes from the Greek word “strinx,” or screecher.
This is far and away the most unfortunate, longest-brewing, disappointing typographical error that I know. I’ve seen typos in headlines. I’ve seen typos in books. I’ve seen typos that caused confusion or absurd mental images. But a book title!
Get Off the Unicorn contains fourteen short stories of science fiction and fantasy by Anne McCaffrey. Years after the fact, the author confided that the title she’d chosen and sent to the publisher was Get of the Unicorn.
There will always be mistakes in everything that we do. Murphy’s Law pretty much guarantees that when you get a new book back from the printer and open it at random, there will be a mistake on the first page you look at.
One of the ways in which we try to foil Murphy is to make the last task before committing to production a “sanity check.” That’s one last look over the whole thing for errors that might have been missed. Here is where you look to make sure that headings, page numbers, captions, and titles are complete and correct. Or titles, links, and code. It’s a form of editing. Look for blanks, place-fillers, and queries that have been overlooked. I have seen typographical errors 30 points high and published material with “Fred to fill in” and web topics labelled “Subhead here.” So give everything one last scan.
I think a quick scan might have caught this rather cute and inconsequential error from Galaxy Zoo, one of my favourite sites. There you can take part in the scientific endeavour to classify thousands of new galaxies. They’ve started a blog and the blog features the top ten favourite galaxies.
This is number eight:
And this is number three:
It seems familiar somehow, doesn’t it?
Murphy strikes again!
Today looked for Wikipedia articles that needed a improvement. I copy-edited the article on Information design. Then I toned down some of the more blanket claims, added a writing/statistical perspective to the graphic design perspective, shuffled some paragraphs around, reduced the number of separate sections for “competencies” and added some more related articles. I think it’s better. Comments?
Today, when I checked the job bank, there was an editing contract waiting to be approved. Full-time editing jobs are a little unusual. This one is for a good length, too: a whole year.
You can check it at the STC Toronto site by logging in with your STC ID and password.