Eva van Emden

Freelance Editor and Certified Proofreader


August 12, 2015

Erasable pens for proofreading

I’ve started proofreading with Pilot Frixion erasable pens recently. Unlike the messy erasable pens of the eighties, these ones work like a dream, without spreading eraser rubbings or wearing out the paper. These pens work with heat: as you rub the plastic knob on the back of the pen over the ink, it produces heat that makes the ink transparent.

I particularly like the red pen for proofreading on paper. I prefer pen over pencil for proofreading because it shows up better and is clear and sharp for making small marks. The problem has always been trying to keep things tidy when I can’t erase my marks. I was very fond of the Bic Wite-Out correction tape for covering up mistakes, but erasing them is far better.

So far I’ve tried the blue 0.7 mm Frixion Ball and the red 0.5 mm Frixion Point, and I like them both. The colour of the ink is nice, and they use a gel ink that isn’t greasy and doesn’t run or smudge. I don’t know whether anyone has had a problem with the ink fading under hot conditions (like a car dashboard in the sun), or whether the erased marks can be made to show again, but I haven’t noticed any problems with durability.

Edit: So it turns out that if you leave a freshly microwaved cup of tea sitting on your notebook, you can in fact erase your ink wholesale. This is a little disconcerting—what if someone puts my proofed manuscript down on a radiator and bleaches out two hundred pages’ worth of edits? The thought gives me the willies.

June 20, 2015

“When to use bad English” with James Harbeck (Editors Canada Conference 2015)

James Harbeck gave a great talk on when to use “bad” English. Bad English in this case means nonstandard English: ungrammatical constructions, jargon, slang, and vulgarity. And the first lesson for editors is that you should use bad English when it’s not bad. Some of the rules taught in the past never had much basis in logic, grammar, or common usage, and are now widely dismissed as superstitions. So go ahead: split infinitives and end your sentences with prepositions.

James has posted a writeup of his talk on his blog Sesquiotica.

“Honing your elevator speech” with Laura Poole (Editors Canada Conference 2015)

“What do you do?” People ask each other this question all the time, and how many of us can summarize the scope of our business activities, convey the extent of our expertise and enthusiasm, and make the listener want to know more, all in the amount of time it takes for an elevator to travel a few floors? I know I can’t—yet.

Laura Poole, a freelance editor herself, gave us some tips on how to get your message across.

Goal of your speech

  • Remember that your goal is to start a conversation.
  • Adapt your speech to fit the person you’re talking to. If you’re talking to your editing colleagues, you can say “I do a lot of substantive editing,” but for the general public, it might be better to say, “I edit and proofread books and magazines.”
  • Consider what you want people to know, and what’s unique about you.

Delivering your speech

  • Smile and make eye contact. Use a conversational tone of voice and show your enthusiasm.
  • Memorize the speech so that you don’t have to think about the words. That lets you pay attention to delivering your speech effectively.
  • If this kind of speaking doesn’t come naturally to you, try to pretend that you’re someone who does enjoy it.

Bonus tip

To keep your hand from getting crushed in a handshake, try shaking hands with your index finger (or first two fingers) sticking out along the inside of the other person’s wrist.

June 19, 2015

Editors’ Association of Canada conference 2015

Newly certified editors. Photo courtesy of Paul Cipywnyk. All rights reserved.

I’m back from the Editors’ Association of Canada’s 2015 conference “Editing Goes Global.” I have jet lag, a new copy of Merriam–Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, a stack of business cards, a list of LinkedIn invitations, a pile of receipts, and notes all over the place.

Conference co-chairs Gael Spivak and Greg Ioannou did an amazing job of putting together the conference. The attendance was the highest ever, and people attended from as far away as India and Australia.

Some highlights included John McIntyre on newspaper writing (some articles can’t be fixed), Carol Fisher Saller on assertionists, Sue Archer and Suzanne Purkis on networking (including the defensive handshake), Joe Kimble on legalese (the myth of precision: legalese isn’t really more precise than plain language), and James Harbeck on when to use bad English (to make yourself seem like “just folks”). Christina Vasilevski kindly invited me to stay with her during the conference, so I also got to chat about some of my favourite fiction on the way into town each day. An important part of the conference is awards and recognition. At the annual general meeting, I got my certified proofreader certificate, and at the awards banquet I was thrilled to see fellow EAC-BC member Grace Yaginuma win the 2014 Tom Fairley award. Finally, I put a lot of faces to names as I met people who I’d only exchanged email with.

As I catch up, I’ll post some summaries from the sessions I went to.

January 1, 2015

Canadian Copyright Law, 4th ed.: An Updated Guide to Canadian Copyright Law for an Age of Reckless Infringement by Lesley Ellen Harris

Lesley Ellen Harris: Canadian Copyright Law
ISBN: 978-1-118-0751-8
October 2013, 368 pp.
When it comes to producing anxiety in writers and editors, copyright is right up there with citation styles, libel, and the correct use of the subjunctive mood. Most people get by on a combination of hearsay and superstition (“Mrs. Thistlebottom said it’s always OK to quote less than fifty words” . . . “It’s for noncommercial use” . . . “It’s in a public place” . . . “We have to change that to ‘candy bar’”), and that doesn’t work too badly until it comes to publishing online, where the stories sometimes get weird. I’ve seen people ask whether they can publish a URL without permission, while others have tried to claim that nothing on the web has any copyright protection (see “But honestly Monica”).

Lesley Ellen Harris’s Canadian Copyright Law is a readable, complete introduction to Canadian copyright law, covering text, photographs, art, video, music, and more. Harris explains what types of intellectual property fall under copyright as opposed to patents, trademarks, industrial design protection, and trade secrets. She summarizes what rights are included in copyright, how they can be exploited, and how copyright is infringed, and discusses how violations are handled. She also explains how to license content and gives some guidelines on fair dealing. There’s discussion of international copyright treaties, and a full chapter on U.S. copyright law.

The book contained just about everything I wanted to know, and it was well organized and easy to understand. It’s quite a reasonable length, so you can realistically read it cover to cover. The author seems to take a neutral point of view, which is helpful given that there is some controversy over how to interpret recent Supreme Court decisions. I think the book takes into account the results of the “copyright pentalogy,” five decisions by the Canadian Supreme Court on copyright that were delivered on July 12, 2012, but there’s no direct discussion or analysis of the cases. This book seems like an excellent starting point for the lay reader who needs to get a grip on how to protect, license, and use creative works.

Lesley Ellen Harris is a lawyer, writer, and teacher who specializes in copyright law.

Accompanying material online

Reviewed from a copy borrowed from the library.