President reviews a busy month
by Stephanie Holt AE
This has been another busy month for EdVic, with a couple of Zoom cuppas, an evening Zoom cocktails, a sold-out professional development (PD) session on working with Word styles and templates and our busiest Zoom speaker meeting to date.
We had 100 members join us for Dr Amanda Müller’s presentation at the end of August. There’s clearly still an appetite for gathering through Zoom, especially when the topic is of relevance to so many editors. You can read a report on that meeting in this article.
It’s always lovely to get to know more members and catch up with colleagues and friends, and the Zoom cuppas/cocktails are a great way to do this. It was a treat to spend an hour with poets and poetry editors last month and to share favourite sports books and sports writing with fellow fans. Thanks to co-hosts Sally-Anne Watson Kane and Mandy Johnson, respectively, for collaborating on those sessions.
Of course, there’s nothing more frustrating than looking forward to one of our Zoom activities — whether it’s a PD workshop, a speaker event or some casual Zoom networking — only to have a last-minute fiddle finding the relevant link. A quick reminder: the event-confirmation email you receive on registration includes the link. And don’t forget to check your spam folder in case the confirmation email has ended up there. Once that link is found, you’re all set. Remember to change your Zoom screen-name to match the name you’ve registered with, too — another small way to speed up entry.
In other branch news, you’ll find an article about subcommittee membership. We’re always keen to hear from members interested in joining a subcommittee. At present, we have subcommittees for Communications, Events and PD.
We’re especially eager to recruit for the PD subcommittee. As well as helping develop the PD program, subcommittee members assist with running Zoom workshops. The behind-the-scenes work that goes into these is considerable. (If you’ve attended a PD workshop on Zoom and not noticed, that’s because the team is working so smoothly.)
Stephanie Holt AE
Life on a subcommittee
Have you ever idly wondered what it is like to be on an EdVic subcommittee?
Subcommittee work offers all sorts of insights into IPEd, the EdVic branch and the world of editing, and a chance to extend your skills and networks along the way. It’s a great way to get more involved without requiring as much responsibility — or being quite as daunting — as taking on an executive committee role. In recognition of their valuable contribution, our subcommittee volunteers also receive discounts for branch activities.
Don’t be put off by some of the myths about being on a subcommittee.
Myth: Subcommittee members are all highly experienced editors. I don’t have the skills or experience to join a subcommittee.
Fact: We’ve always welcomed early-career editors onto our subcommittees. There are roles they can play and it’s a great way to learn more about the profession. Many subcommittee members join without specialist skills, and learn what’s needed as they go. Enthusiasm and ideas are just as important as experience.
Myth: Subcommittee work always takes up a lot of time.
Fact: Of course, joining a subcommittee means committing some time, but there is a lot of variation in how much — and if you get busy with, well, life, there is generally some flexibility. Committee members (and other members) often help each other out.
Myth: I’d have to go to dozens of meetings.
Fact: Subcommittee members are invited to attend a Zoom meeting every second month with the wider EdVic committee, and it’s a great way to keep up with what’s happening elsewhere in the organisation. These can be useful and fascinating, but they aren’t obligatory. Other than that, each subcommittee stays in touch by email and phone, with some Zoom meetings when needed.
Myth: I’m not well-connected enough and don’t know anyone on the committee.
Fact: Many committee and subcommittee members get to know each other by doing this work together. There are likely to be other new members finding their feet — and even the experienced members will remember what it was like when they first joined. Subcommittees themselves are quite small, so you’ll work most closely with just one or two committee members, and perhaps one or two other EdVic members.
Here’s a final word about what it is really like: subcommittee work can be creative and collegial. You get to share your ideas about what you think EdVic can be offering to members, and work with a diverse group of professionals who are similarly motivated by a desire to support and advance the interests of editors. It’s stimulating work.
To find out more, contact branch President Stephanie Holt (firstname.lastname@example.org).
August speaker meeting report: Proofreading the writing of English as a second language students
by Jane Fitzpatrick AE
More than 100 members registered to hear Dr Amanda Müller’s detailed presentation on what an editor may encounter when editing and proofreading the academic writing of students with English as a second language (ESL).
Amanda began by considering the varied backgrounds of this group of writers. She pointed out that their English writing may be influenced not only by limited knowledge of English and transfer of forms from their first language (L1), but possibly also by a lack of practice in academic writing itself.
The issues associated with transfer from L1 include being used to different grammatical structures and word orders. ESL students may find particular difficulty with such things as prepositions, determiners, phrasal verbs and verbs in general, and idiomatic language; Amanda suggested these are particularly problematic because they embody hidden metaphorical and cultural thought. She supplied some enlightening examples of language transfers that highlighted these issues. For example, a Korean writer might state, “Tomorrow will hot” instead of, “It will be hot tomorrow”, because Korean does not use a dummy subject or object in such sentences.
An editor may need to provide guidance on paragraph structure, how to avoid repetition, what references are for and how to present them. They may need to explain why copying material is not appropriate, and they may need to encourage direct statements, and explain the need for appropriate hedging language (where the probability of a statement needs to be stated appropriately).
Amanda emphasised that editing must be kept within the parameters outlined by IPEd:
“Editors should not make corrections to the content, substance or structure of the thesis … although they may note problems for the student’s attention. The editor is not responsible for identifying issues of content, such as checking facts, reference to others’ work and plagiarism. However, if problems of this type are identified, the editor may advise the student to check the university’s guidelines and to seek advice from their supervisor.”
Amanda provided a range of useful resources for editors.
Her final tips included:
- keep in mind up to 50 per cent of writing issues may be related to L1 transfer and inexperience in English
- direct students to their university’s pre-submission advice
- if you don’t understand parts, it’s OK to politely but directly say this
- editing in stages (to give feedback) and making several passes (to pick up different issues) may be useful.
Amanda’s delivery was warmly received, and questions that followed led to the exploration of such topics as estimating the work involved in an edit, quoting and where to draw the line in editing students’ work.
Training report: Editing tools to boost your productivity, with Hilary Cadman
by Claire Kelly AE
EdVic’s sold-out August 2021 PD workshop focused on efficient editing. Hilary Cadman, technical editor and trainer, demonstrated four tools that can speed up editing and the quality of our work.
PerfectIt, from Intelligent Editing, is a Word add-in that can help you to check and apply the correct style, choosing from one of the many built-in styles (e.g. Australian Government Style, WHO, or the newly-added CMOS), or creating your own custom style.
PhraseExpress is text-expander software that can be used to insert text snippets across multiple programs.
Editor’s Toolkit Plus for Microsoft Word is a set of macros (bundled together in a user-friendly ribbon) that can help you to clean up manuscripts, performing tasks as selected by you.
ProWriting Aid is a grammar checker, style editor and writing mentor that integrates into a range of software including Word.
Hilary demonstrated each of these tools, outlining the key features, detailing how she uses them in her work, walking through some of the most useful functions and setting out some of the pros and cons. After each demonstration there was a Q&A.
Participants left the session equipped with enough information to assess whether they would find it useful to incorporate any of these tools into their editing practice.
Here are some of the things attendees had to say:
“Thank you, I have definitely learnt some tools that will assist me in completing the more mundane tasks of editing, save time and improve my skills.”
“Engaging, clear and focused. In a short session I gained a real understanding and appreciation of four key software programs that could aid my editing and how I might use them. Very enjoyable and informative. Thank you.”
“A fascinating look at software applications for editors. Hilary was informative and gave excellent examples of how the applications could be used.”
IPEd members receive a discount of 25 per cent when buying Hilary’s training materials. To obtain the discount, log in to the member portal, go to ‘Resources for Editors’ then ‘Affiliate Training Courses’ and find Cadman Training courses.
Editing for plain-English — Caitlin Whiteman
by Sally McInnes AE
Caitlin Whiteman AE is a plain-English writer, editor and trainer. Since starting her freelance business, Elemental Communications, in 2016, she has worked with a range of clients in corporate, not-for-profit and government organisations.
During the two-part course, delivered to IPEd members in late July, Caitlin covered an exhaustive list of elements to consider when doing a plain-English edit. Plain-English documentation is intended to make information easy to find, understand and use, but Caitlin emphasised that “plain English is always written for a given audience”. Therefore, the editor must begin by understanding the audience — their knowledge, skills, interests, needs and motivations.
The document should first aim to meet an audience’s likely reading level and knowledge of vocabulary. Readability can be improved with the use of shorter sentences, concise language and simpler forms of grammar.
On sentence construction, Caitlin recommends exposing the subject early and avoiding unnecessary nominalisations — forming nouns from verbs (for example, reaction from react, or departure from depart) or adjectives — particularly when stating key actions. She says, “Key actions should be named with verbs rather than hidden in nominalisations.”
While the use of active voice is important, Caitlin prefers to rely on the use of strong verbs to enliven the writing. In documents for general audiences, technical terms should be kept to a minimum and, when used, explained in plain English.
We can also make documents more accessible by using clear headings and by structuring the information in a way that most benefits the reader (for example, placing important information more prominently). Illustrations and diagrams also play a key role in improving understanding.
Caitlin warned that plain-English editing requires more of a “sledgehammer” approach than other types of editing. She recommends a thorough document review and discussion with the client before starting the edit, to ensure the client fully understands the approach’s rationale and benefits and what it will involve. A client may be resistant to change and, in this case, Caitlin finds the best outcome is achieved by trying to understand the client’s concerns, finding areas of compromise and giving the client options.
It was apparent in these sessions that many of the elements of plain-English editing are a part of good editing practice generally. The sessions also encompassed many useful tips, especially for managing client expectations.
Comments from participants at the workshop included these two:
“Caitlin gave an informative session on editing for plain English and communicating with clients.”
“Immensely valuable insight into working with plain English at the ‘human’ level, not just the mechanics of it.”
Thanks, Caitlin, for an informative workshop.
EdVic is pleased to welcome members who joined or upgraded over the past month.
Associate members: Penelope Jane Margaret Hayes; Martine Power
Student members: Julie Faulkner; Kathy Stekla
We look forward to seeing you at our workshops and events and encourage you to make the most of IPEd’s networks for news and support.
New member profile: Julie Faulkner
Q: How long have you been an editor and how did your career begin?
A: I don’t have a career as an editor, although I am a pro-bono editor of a teacher journal. I began as an English teacher, moved into teacher education and am now a student again, in RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing degree (which is where I learned about IPEd).
Q: What type of editing makes up most of your work?
A: Calling for, selecting and editing submissions for a professional journal: Literacy Learning: the Middle Years.
Q: What aspect of the profession do you find most challenging?
A: Currently under COVID-19 it’s difficult to find quality contributions — people are exhausted and unmotivated.
Q: How would you like to build your skills as an editor?
A: I have enjoyed participating in IPEd’s seminars, sometimes in areas into which I would never normally venture. This takes me well out of my daily editing concerns and into new territory.
Q: What are you looking forward to about being a member?
A: Opportunities such as the “books in translation” book club, coming to know fellow editors and mentoring possibilities.
by Stephanie Holt AE
Here’s our final instalment of Victoria-themed questions from the trivia quiz we held at our ABM.
Q 1–3 Victoria what?
1 The traditional home of the Collingwood Football Club is Victoria ________.
2 A scenic spot overlooking Wellington, New Zealand, is ________ Victoria.
3 The national flower of Guyana, found in the Amazon, is Nymphaea Victoria ________.
Q 4–6 Victoria facts and factoids
4 Which publisher is NOT based in Victoria?
a Black Inc
b Hardie Grant Publishing
c Pantera Press
d Scribe Publications
5 Which colour is NOT in the Victorian state tartan?
6 Who is NOT a daughter of Queen Victoria?
a Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore
b Helena Augusta Victoria
c Louise Caroline Alberta
d Viviane Katrina Louise Albertine.
Q 7–8 Famous Victorias
7 Which Australian Victoria is a cartoonist with the New Yorker and author of more than 20 books?
8 What Victoria is better known as Posh Spice, and (under this married name) is a successful fashion designer?
Q 9–12 Famous victories
9 Which future Olympic champion ran a memorable victory lap after the 4×100 relay at the 1990 Commonwealth Games?
10 … and what made the victory lap controversial?
11 Who wrote the 1812 Overture, which commemorates the Russian army’s successful defence against the French army?
12 … and what unconventional instrument does the score include in the finale?
4 (c) Pantera Press
5 (d) yellow
6 (d) Viviane Katrina Louise Albertine
7 Victoria Roberts
8 Victoria Beckham
9 Cathy Freeman
10 She carried an Aboriginal flag.
How did you go?
1–4 correct Let me guess, more of a structural editor than a fact-checker?
5–8 correct A solid all-rounder, always sure to pick up a few slips during copyediting.
9–10 correct A gun proofreader? That’s some impressive general knowledge to boot.
11–12 correct Really? Looks like you’ve just volunteered to run our next trivia quiz!