Tag Archives: #editing

So you want to be a medical editor?


By Olga Sushinsky

AMA Manual of StyleIf you’ve ever thought about pursuing a career in medical editing, you might want to familiarize yourself with the specifics of the industry. At first, it may appear daunting, but learning this craft is perfectly doable with a little help from print and online resources, such as medical dictionaries and industry-specific style guides. If you do come from a science background, the odds of success are in your favour, but if not, you can still master medical editing. Regardless of your level of expertise, it is important to have these resources on hand.

The American Medical Association’s AMA Manual of Style 

Most likely, you will be provided with log-in access to the AMA website when you rece­­ive a medical editing gig. However, it’s also a good idea to invest in a physical copy of the AMA Manual of Style if you plan to edit medical documents long-term…

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English Grammar Resources for Newbies and Well-Seasoned Writers

Are you finding English grammar rules mind-boggling? Perhaps, you’ve got amazing ideas but are feeling stuck because the difference between past perfect and simple past won’t let you be. Fortunately, there is no need to remember absolutely everything about the language to be a good writer. Here are some of the best resources on English grammar.

Booher, Dianna. Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar 101 Fast and Easy Ways to Correct the Most Common Errors. New York: McGraw Hill, 2009.

Written in a humorous tone, this book will guide you through all the common grammar pitfalls, including the infamous dangling modifiers, the lie/lay combo, indefinite pronouns, and irregular verbs. Although the book is mainly geared towards business writers, anyone, from an ESL student to a well-seasoned copywriter, can benefit from Booher’s Rules.

Ensohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’ Handbook A Guide to Publishing and Corporate Communications. London: University of California Press Ltd., 2006.

In this book, you’ll find anything you need to know about the art of copy editing, from copy editor’s marks for hard copy to practical information on how to edit tables, numbers, and graphs. The Copyeditor’s Handbook is a good starting point for anyone interested in an editing career. It’s also a good source for professional writers who want to know about elements that deserve special attention during the self-editing/proofreading process.

Ruvinsky, Maxine. Practical Grammar A Canadian Writer’s Resource, 2nd Ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Everything you needed to know about parts of speech, verbs, sentence structure, and punctuation can be found in this book. Its chapters are short, simple, and organized in a clear, concise way that will appeal to both absolute beginners and advanced English speakers. Each chapter contains exercises for readers to test themselves and to discover areas of improvement.

Stilman, Anne. Grammatically Correct: The Essential Guide to Spelling, Style, Usage, Grammar, and Punctuation, 2nd Ed. Cincinatti: Writer’s Digest Books, 2010.

Similarly to Ruvinsky’s Practical Grammar, Grammatically Correct by Stilman represents a compilation of rules one needs to know to be a successful writer. Although this book is organized a bit differently, its essence remains the same. It provides a breakdown of the major grammar rules and touches upon the common issues surrounding spelling and punctuation. The book’s well-organized table of contents, along with the index, makes the content extremely informative and user-friendly.

Crag, Catherine et al. Editing Canadian English The Essential Canadian Guide Revised and Updated, 2nd Ed. Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2000.

Although the title implies the book had been written for Canadian market, anyone eager to learn about differences between British and American spellings can benefit from this book. It’s organized thematically into tables, each representing a particular convention, such as -ae vs. -e. Editing Canadian English is a good reference point for those who cannot remember all the spelling variations.

Indexing Demystified

When I had finished my indexing course several years ago, my friends would ask me, “what is indexing?” I tried explaining it in simple terms, thus making this craft sound even more mysterious. For those who have been wondering what indexing is all about, I’ll try my best to describe it in this article.


Indexing can have several definitions. The term “web indexing” refers to the process of storing web contents, while “search engine indexing” means collecting and storing web data for “fast and accurate information retrieval.”[1]The indexing I’m referring to can be best understood in the context of books, journals, monographs, and other similar media. Basically, an index is a list of terms you’ll find at the end of most non-fiction books, and indexing is the process of generating such list.

Creating a high-quality index involves a great deal of analytical thinking and of course attention to detail. An indexer will read a text, try to locate the key concept and terms, and analyze ways they are interrelated. A good index will always have a lot of sub-entries, references, and even double postings.

Some of the issues around the index-making process involve size requirements made by an author/publisher. If an index needs not to exceed a certain number of pages, choosing the right entries/sub-entries might become a challenge. An indexer will need to learn how to balance between making detailed references and economizing space–a very daunting task. Nevertheless, an indexer’s job can be very rewarding, as he/she gets to read a lot of books from many fields. Many former librarians, Ph.D graduates, and, broadly speaking, humanities majors choose to become indexers. Indexing is in demand in many fields, including sciences and law.

Why every non-fiction book should have an index

During the past years, I had came across a few amazing books that didn’t have indexes. Since I was reading them for personal enjoyment, this lacking didn’t affect me too much. However, if I were to use one of them for a research project or simply wanted to find a specific term, a problem would arise. Surely, one can use a table of contents to navigate around a book, but what about specific terms? How can one find them without an index? The answer is going page by page. The process can quickly become wearisome for a reader and may affect his/her perception of the whole book. That’s why every non-fiction title, especially a scholarly one, should have a carefully-written index. Not only will it enrich the content but will also make the entire book more user-friendly.

Knowing your options as an author

As a non-fiction author, you have several options including writing your own index or using computerized software to create one.  There is nothing wrong with either of them. It’s even possible to generate one using the “Insert Index” feature located under the “References” tab in Microsoft Office.[2] To do so, you’ll have to mark entries first using the “Mark Entry” button, also located under the “References” tab. [3] If you click on the button, you’ll be able to key in sub-entries, cross references, and page ranges, as well as choose the format for page numbers. Although this method  may sound easy, you might end up with extra work, such as reversing some of the terms manually (i.e., “indexing, the art of” instead of “the art of indexing”) and ensuring these terms stay in an alphabetic order.

To avoid the hassle and to save time, you can always hire a professional indexer. Indexers use specialized software that alphabetizes all entries and sub-entries automatically and can format documents according to individual preferences (i.e., either run-in or indented). Also, if you want your sub-entries organized in a non-alphabetical order but to follow a certain chronology, your indexer will take care of that.  Even if you’ve already written an index, it’s always good to get a second opinion. Hiring an indexer might sound like a costly undertaking, but it will definitely be a great investment.


American Society for Indexing 

Indexing Society of Canada

A Good Index,” by Siusan Moffat.

Editing Canadian English, 3rd Ed. – A Book Review

The third edition of Editing Canadian English by Catherine Craig et al. is now available as e-book. According to the website of the Editors Association of Canada, this book is a “fully searchable version that you can read on your computer (with a reading app installed), tablet, smartphone or reading device.” While I prefer using the old-fashioned hardcover with an index, I still think that re-releasing it in a new format is wonderful news.

Editing Canadian English is a language manual that covers a wide range of topics pertaining to the English language and editing in the Canadian context. Such include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Canadianization, including tailoring edited content to Canadian market
  • differences between British and American spellings, including treatment of the variant words by the major dictionaries, such as Webster’s, Canadian Oxford, and Nelson
  • capitalization of titles, professional entities, and geographical terms
  • treatment of compounds, including hyphenation in variant words such as “homemade” and “longtime” according to the major dictionaries
  • measurements, including lists of the major scientific units and their abbreviations
  • French in the English context, including treatment of italics and quotation marks, organization names, place names, work titles, quoted material, and overall spacing in the text

The book also touches upon more practical aspects of the editing business, such as differences between different job roles (i.e., substantive editor, copy editor, and proofreader), successful communication with authors, and editor’s legal responsibilities. Inclusivity is a big part of communication both in Canada and aboard. One of the chapters provides practical advice on avoiding stereotypes, gender bias, and over generalizations in writing.

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to get a free copy of the second edition from an English instructor, who was gracious enough to give away her old books on the last days of our course. Ever since, I’ve been actively using it as a reference source for numerous editing projects. The content is broken down into several chapters organized thematically into various topics and sub-topics. Each sub-topic corresponds to a particular number point (1.1 through 12.157) and is searchable both through the index and table of context. Such mode of organization makes the text very user-friendly and easy to navigate. No matter which format you prefer, Editing Canadian English is a must-have for anyone who is serious about editing career.