September 13 2010

Frustrations of working with an editor

by Barbie in Editing, Writing

As part of my freelance work, I write and edit for Demand Media Studios. As someone used to making the edits, I’ve been frustrated to see some copy editors make blatant errors made in my published work. Though most edits are useful ones, I’ve been directed by copy editors to do things that go against AP Style, company style and basic grammar rules.

Here are some of the strange requests I’ve received:

  • Remove all commas from the article. This copy editor misinterpreted AP Style’s rule about not using serial commas as a general comma ban. In particular, this editor advised me not to use commas between independent clauses joined by a conjunction in a sentence. As we know, that is simply wrong.
  • Hyphenate compound modifiers after the noun. As we know, the rule is that we only hyphenate compound modifiers that precede the noun they describe, with a few exceptions. I’ve seen plenty of “-ly” compound modifiers hyphenated in my work, which we also know is the exception to this rule.

What’s the point? Stand up for your writing. Even the best editors might slip up and forget a basic grammar rule or misinterpret one. An editor unfamiliar with your content might make edits that change the meaning of your sentence. Collaboration with editors is key. As the writer, you’re the subject matter expert, so you can help guide the editor to making the proper changes in your document.