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with Mark Allen
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Style question of the year is Black and White
Publications nationwide have decided recently to capitalize the racial identifier Black. The more difficult question has been what to do about white?
The descriptive terms generally haven't been capitalized, although the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association has said uppercase both racial terms for the past three editions at least. The Chicago Manual of Style, in typical CMOS style, has acknowledge that both styles are fine. AP Stylebook has previously said to lowercase both.
I wrote about capitalizing Black for the website of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors before the AP (and The New York Times) adopted the capital B. You can read that here. With AP's decision on lowercase white, I added a few thoughts on my blog. Read those thoughts here.
Style decisions should be made close to home, taking into account your audience and your publication's history, personality and objectives. This may be the most important style question you grapple with this year.
Questions I am frequently asked
Do I affect the effect or the other way around?
The noun is usually "effect," and "affect" is usually the verb. As verbs, to "affect" is to influence and to "effect" is to bring about, as in "effect change," meaning create change.
You "lay" something. Annoyingly, "lay" also is the past tense of "lie." If you just took a nap, you say "I lay down for a bit." Many people say "I laid down for a bit," but we usually reserve "laid" for when there is an object involved: "She laid the scissors on the mantel."
Is it ever OK to use "they" to refer to an individual
We do it all the time in speech. In writing, it would sure be useful, wouldn't it? You will find that sticklers stickle, but "they" as a singular, genderless pronoun is gaining acceptance.
Beside or besides? Toward or towards?
"Beside" means physically next to. "Besides" means "other than." They used to be interchangeable, but they've grown distinct. Most -ward words are interchangeable, but Americans tend to leave off the "s" while British English writers tend to leave it on.
If I'm talking about a cat, is it "awe cute"? "aww, cute"?
Awe traditionally is fear, respect, wonder. Awesome things are usually not fear-inducing these days, but as awesome as your cat may be, you are looking for "aw, cute." Some dictionaries accept "aww, cute" for particularly cute cats.
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A good copy editor takes on the role of reader, making sure the author’s point is understood. A good copy editor helps the author and reader connect.
Presentations range from a seven-minute look at confusable words to day-long workshops on writing, copy-editing, grammar, style guides, and other topics. I'm available via webinar or in person.
Projects include researching and writing marketing documents, business-to-business letters and newsletters, and internal newsletters. I also researched and wrote an institutional history book.
Mark Allen was the first freelance copy editor elected to the executive board of ACES: The Society for Editing, in 2012. He also is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
Rates are competitive, and we can chat about your budget and make a plan for what will work best. I can also provide proofreading, formatting, and design services.