Thursday, July 20
Anyone else hate copy editors?

I mean, I don't hate all of them. Just the ones whose existence I notice.

By all means, ask me about missing or incomplete references. Please catch the one or two typos I haven't fixed. But don't make random-ass changes that are all about replacing my stylistic judgment with yours.

Don't take out half of my commas, only to replace them with an equal number placed slightly differently (sometimes so as to change the emphasis or even meaning of my sentences). Don't change my prepositions on a series of judgment calls. Definitely don't go out of your way to change one of my sentences into the passive voice in order to avoid use of the first person - especially since I'm in a discipline where judicious use of the first person is accepted in all of the top journals!

Oh, and one other thing? Don't take italics out of a sentence I was quoting from a published source.

6 comments:

fraud, in denim said...

My partner is cursing the copy-editors tonight as well; although it's the benign stuff he's under attack for (read: absent-minded sloppiness).

I can commiserate, though. I hate it when what I write doesn't feel like it's mine (or more accurately, me) anymore. I find too, like you, that it only takes a couple words or a punctuation mark to really take that personal mark away from the author.

Clear said...

Sometimes I presume that copy editors do some of the things they do just to make sure they look like they've been conscientious to the editor who hired them.

atomic tangerine said...

clear, I think you're right about them wanting to look conscientious. I also wonder if there isn't sometimes an element of copy editors being frustrated writers who want to show that they know how to write better than us academics.

CMT said...

Or, you know, change equations to something different? That's my favorite.

Turquoise Stuff said...

Clear's comment reminds me of human subjects review board members. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason they're picking a fight is to show that they read the proposal. [expletive removed]

Cerise said...

I am still bitter about a history paper I wrote in high school, on which the only points I lost were for commas with which the instructor disagreed. They were stylistic.

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