Report on the Winter Seminar 2018

The ‘good’ editor: practice, principles and ethics

With a title like this, dreamed up by stalwart committee member Jan Knight, Editors WA’s annual Winter Seminar was always going to be intriguing. The lively content delivered by our three expert presenters more than matched that promise, provoking plenty of impromptu interaction from the audience.

Thanks to the organisers

We must thank the seminar organiser, our IPEd Councillor Stephen White, as well as our Secretary Tracy Piper, for their hard work in providing an excellent professional development opportunity for the 17 members who attended on 25 August at Mt Lawley Senior High School (and thus scored a formal Certificate of Attendance for their CV portfolios). Our new half-day format seemed to work well, but we welcome further feedback from members on this.

Presentations

Diversity was guaranteed, given the presenters’ disparate backgrounds:

Vanessa Herbert, Director of PDT Consultancy, a trainer and consultant to both the private and public sectors for the past 25 years with special expertise in leadership, strategic planning and communications and performance development. vanessa@pdtconsultancy.com.au

David Lindsay, Emeritus Professor, UWA, a former teacher and researcher in agricultural and animal sciences, but also a renowned science communicator, the author of Science Writing – Thinking in Words (2011). david.lindsay@uwa.edu.au

Rhonda Bracey, one of our own, an IPEd member and professional contract technical editor who runs her own business, editing for software, mining and resources companies, as well as government departments. She brought to the seminar table her expertise in editing automation software including Microsoft Word. rhonda.bracey@cybertext.com.au

Vanessa Herbert

We’ve been seeing a few corporate-style documents out of IPEd HQ lately, such as codes of conduct, confidentiality and conflict of interest agreements. So it was timely for Vanessa Herbert to examine the conflict of interest zone within the editing profession in her presentation on ethics. She counselled editors to exercise ‘mindfulness’, always being aware of the current situation and its broader context, understanding its ‘text’ and most importantly, its ‘subtexts’ whether they be body language, cultural values or background history. Transparency is the goal, she said; aim to be ‘crystal clear’ about your meaning and intent.

A large room with people sitting at tables with their backs to the camera, and Vanessa Herbert standing beside a projector screen at the far end.Vanessa Herbert discussing ethics with the group at the 2018 Winter Seminar.

We should realise that perceptions may also have a real impact. When you are asked to declare a conflict of interest, you should not feel that your personal integrity is being assessed or questioned, but rather understand that if there is an opportunity (or even the perception of an opportunity, equally a potential opportunity) to use your role to gain a personal benefit, then a conflict of interest does exist.

Conflicts of interest don’t always present themselves at the beginning of a job so that you can decide from the start whether to take the job or not. Very often, they present in the middle of a job when you have already taken an advance progress payment or have spent many hours working on the project. Sometimes, you may just need to call a wise friend (or IPEd) to discuss the problem!

Vanessa posed us some challenging dilemmas for discussion. Here’s just one to test you:

As a contracting editor, I work on producing an organisational report into the growth areas for a company and the nature of the professional roles that will be part of an expansion in the next six months. My husband has just lost his job and I can provide him with insight into what the organisation is looking for.

Well, should you, would you, do it?

David Lindsay

I found David Lindsay’s contribution to the seminar revelatory. He scientifically reverse- engineered the act of writing well, something many good authors and editors do almost instinctively, to give us a theory of how it is done—a theory that can then be taught to novices. He dismantled the structure of not just whole documents, but of paragraphs and sentences too, to reveal their nuts-and-bolts components. He made a strong case for his hypothesis: that the principles of good scientific communication can be applied across the board to all writing and editing. He believes that good science communicators are telling a ‘story’ like any other writer.

David explained how the ‘principle of expectation’ dominates all successful writing. For example, an article’s title flags something interesting that is coming in the text and entices the reader to read on. Readers who read with an expectation find reading easier and are more likely to understand and retain what they read than those who have no idea what is coming next.

The same principle applies to the whole text. Just as a scientist’s hypothesis, the cornerstone of any scientific paper, sets expectations at the beginning, so each section, paragraph and sentence should have embedded in them an introduction setting expectations, a delivery of results and their interpretation (discussion) and a conclusion. Connections are then built between sections, between paragraphs and between sentences using ‘signpost words’ that are repeated strategically to link the sense of the whole piece from one point to another.

Interestingly, applying David’s principles of writing could well lead most of us to what IPEd terms ‘substantive’ or structural editing (see p. viii of IPEd’s Australian standards for editing practice, 2nd ed., under ‘The fundamentals of editing’). We would have to rewrite a lot more. Take for example his discussion of a title for a scientific paper:

Original title: ‘Fluoride concentration in drinking water samples in Fiji’ (boring!)

Suggested alternative titles, given the actual content of the paper:

  • ‘Fluoride concentration in drinking water samples in Fiji is below minimum standards’
  • ‘The case for fluoridation of drinking water in Fiji’.

The most desirable characteristics of good scientific writing listed by David—precision, clarity and brevity—are surely equally desirable in most non-scientific writing. It was also interesting to hear him say that good paragraphing has become a lost art in modern writing, yet it is a valuable and powerful tool in scientific writing, and possibly in all writing.

David’s concluding advice will surely resonate with all writers and editors: ‘Keep the reader in mind’.

Rhonda Bracey

Rhonda Bracey is a legend for her business efficiency and she certainly demonstrated why in her presentation. She knows about things that most of us never even dreamed Microsoft Word could do! For instance, did you realise that Word’s AutoCorrect function can be customised to automatically insert phrases or paragraphs up to 256 characters long? So instead of laboriously making the same comment repeatedly in the margins of the document you are editing, you can just code a single word, ‘.sense’ for example (note the full stop before ‘sense’ to bring a frequently used correction to the top of the AutoCorrect list), to automatically insert the whole sentence ‘This doesn’t make sense’, or ‘.cap’ to expand into ‘Does this need to be capitalised?’

Rhonda is also a strong advocate of minimising use of the computer mouse, to protect your hands, wrists and arms. She advises us all to get more familiar with keyboard shortcuts—you can get a list of all the shortcuts available in Word if you click through the path File→Macros→View Macros→Macros in→Word Commands→List Commands→Run—and you can even create your own shortcuts if you go File→Options→Customise Ribbon. Automation of tasks is the name of Rhonda’s game.

One of her standard tools is the checklist—hers is seven pages long—which itemises all the things you should do when starting a job. Checklists are vital to ensure you do not forget basics like ‘Never work on the original document, always make a copy!’ or ‘Check Styles’. Rhonda checks all formatting in a document first, and then makes sure that everything is shown onscreen, from formatting marks (but never in Track Changes) to field shading (don’t touch that grey-shaded stuff in the Contents list—it’s probably set up by the author using some program like EndNote) and table gridlines. She recommends you move your Quick Access Toolbar below the ribbon at the top, for easier access.

A large room with people sitting at tables with their backs to the camera, and Rhonda Bracey standing beside a projector screen at the far endRhonda Bracey demonstrating the merits of checklists at the 2018 Winter Seminar.

Rhonda also introduced us to her favourite software programs for editors, namely PerfectIt, EditTools and PhraseExpress. Hilary Cadman of Cadman Editing is one of the best-known exponents of PerfectIt; her online workshops can be found on YouTube. Rhonda pointed out that PerfectIt—essentially a consistency checker—can be customised, rendering the traditional style sheet virtually redundant.

EditTools has some sophisticated tools suitable to specialised editing, for example in the sciences, with useful functions such as ‘Never Spell Word’ for words that are peculiar to a discipline and do not need checking, and a Commonly Misspelled Words option. An extra fee can buy special aids such as a complete list of the correct titles for most academic journals.

PhraseExpress specialises in automated templates and autocorrects to speed up editing. Finally, Rhonda advised us to subscribe to online dictionaries and style guides, and to join both formal and informal organisations such as ACES, the Society for Editing (US) and SfEP, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK) on the formal side. On the less formal side are the Facebook sites for the ‘Editors’ Association of Earth’ and Australia’s ‘Secret Editors’ Business’, both of which include private subgroups, where many IPEd and non-IPEd editors chat about a wide range of subjects.

Conclusion

I left the seminar feeling both educated and inspired to learn more. I’m confident that most attendees would have felt the same, but once again, do give us your feedback. For a start, Rhonda Bracey has written her views on the Winter Seminar in her blog.

Ilsa Sharp, a freelance editor with a background in Asia, specialising in non-fiction and academic editing, is currently Acting President of Editors WA. She can be contacted at edwa.president@iped-editors.org.

Winter Seminar Update: registrations extended, reduced student / concession price

Cartoon of a woman with a halo sitting at a computer

Have you polished your editing halo lately?

Ours are looking a little tarnished, so we’re going to the Winter Seminar on Saturday 25 August for a refresher on what it is to be a ‘good’ editor. Why not join us there to get your ‘goodness’ credentials glowing again?

Cost

IPEd members $90
, Non-members, $120
Reduced Price — Student and concession card members now just $33

Presenters

Vanessa Herbert, PDT Consultancy:
 Vanessa will explore the application and implications of the IPEd codes of ethics and conduct in editing practices.

Prof. David Lindsay, Researcher and science communicator:
 We’ve invited David to review the writing skills he feels are most valuable for editors to help clients tell their story clearly and effectively.

Rhonda Bracey, Contract Technical Editor: 
Rhonda will share practical tips and useful software for improving effectiveness and efficiency in editing.

More information

Visit the Winter Workshop event page to read more about the presenters and what you will learn from this workshop.

Register online (opens in new window).

Registration extended — now closes midday Thursday 23 August

Enquiries to edwa.admin@iped-editors.org

Mentoring program – new status

At the IPEd plenary session of the Write|Edit|Index conference, our mentoring program became part of IPEd’s responsibility. We are now known officially as the IPEd National Mentoring Program for Editors, as a result of an agreement signed by the CSE President, Alan Cummine, and the IPEd Chair, Kerry Davies. The systems we’ve put in place all remain the same, Canberra continues to administer the program nationally with the team of state/territory coordinators working with the national coordinators. We are delighted to have IPED’s formal recognition and support.

IMG_0011Before the formal announcement, all but one of the current coordinators, plus the two national coordinators, were able to gather for lunch at the conference, and here is a photo of us all: standing – Ted Briggs; sitting, clockwise – Ara Nalbandian (ACT), Elizabeth Manning Murphy, Kerry Coyle (WA), Sheelagh Wegman (Tas), Davina Dadley-Moore (Vic), Zoe Hale (NSW), Roberta Blake (Qld). Absent: Adele Walker (SA).

At the Mentoring plenary session of the conference, coordinators sat on the podium and were introduced to the delegates. Your local coordinator is your first port of call for information about the mentoring program and for advice during a mentorship, should you need it. We are dedicated to helping mentorships be successful, personally rewarding pairings. If you don’t have your local coordinator’s details, contact either Elizabeth or Ted (see below) and we’ll pass your request on.

We’re pretty chuffed with this outcome – we’ve been working towards it, but it’s happened in two short years, and we’re still somewhat bemused by the speed at which it has happened. Heartfelt thanks to all the coordinators for help, swapping ideas and generally promoting mentoring to the whole membership of all current societies.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BE PART OF IT?
This brings me to a topic I get asked about sometimes – just who can be mentored? Is it only for new editors? Or can senior, experienced editors be mentored? The answer is – ANYONE can be mentored and ANYONE can be a mentor. It all depends on what you want to be guided in, and what skills you have that you can share. We have on our program very young, inexperienced editors, struggling to get a foothold in the competitive editing profession; and we have editors near to traditional retirement age, with lots of experience behind them, but wanting to perhaps understand more about new technologies and spread their wings into newer areas of editing – such editors are often mentored by much younger colleagues who have grown up with technology or work in legal, medical or scientific editing. You don’t have to be old and white-haired to be a mentor, and you don’t have to be straight out of editing school to be a mentee. If you meet the basic requirements – membership of an editing society at any level, have attended a course or workshop about copy-editing and proofreading, and have at least a little experience in copy-editing – you qualify. Just ask for the mentor or mentee application form and we’ll help you with the rest.

 

for IPEd National Mentoring Program for Editors:
Ted Briggs AE (tedbriggs@grapevine.com.au)
Elizabeth Manning Murphy DE (emmurphy.words@gmail.com)
Joint National Coordinators

‘Editing in the digital age’: full program!

The Society of Editors (WA) is please to announce the program for our upcoming winter seminar.

Editing in the digital age: software and systems for professional success

Editors should be up to date and proficient in … common word processing software for editing … and accepted techniques for handling electronic files. Australian standards for editing practice (IPEd, p. 6)

Time Presenters and session titles
8.30   am Registration
9.00 President’s welcome (Cheryl Bettridge AE)
9.05 Announcements (Kerry Coyle AE)
9.10 Dr Hilary Cadman AE ‘PerfectIt – the editor’s friend’
10.00 MORNING TEA
10.15 John Denton ‘How to build a business’
11.15 Rhonda Bracey ‘Telecommuting: Pros and cons’
12.15 pm LUNCH catered by Café Ultimo
13.00 Dr Hilary Cadman AE ‘Keeping up to date with electronic editing tools’
14.00 Margaret McNally AE ‘How many ‘p’s exist in publication?’
14.45 AFTERNOON TEA
15.00 Georgina Wilson ‘Editing for the web – same, same but different’
15.45 Thanks and close

Guest speakers

cadman2Dr Hilary Cadman

PerfectIt – the editor’s friend and Keeping up to date with electronic editing tools
Hilary is a highly experienced science and medical editor, and trainer. Her background is in science. She has a PhD in biochemistry and spent 20 years working in research laboratories and universities in the UK, France and Zimbabwe. A Master of Science (communications) led her into a career in science editing in 1999.

Denton2John Denton

Helping you not just to do business, but to build one!
John started his own training and development business in January 1997 as a licensee for Leadership Management Australia. He has 27 years experience in engineering, customer service, sales and management roles. Today, John is an experienced business person, business consultant, qualified facilitator and trainer, public speaker and ‘business ready for sale’ coach. His extensive knowledge is valuable for editors in any field.

bracey2Rhonda Bracey

Telecommuting: Pros and cons
Editing is an occupation that can be done from home—for at least part of the time. Rhonda has worked full-time from home since 2007. In this presentation, she shares her telecommuting experiences and the pros and cons of working remotely from a corporate office. Rhonda Bracey started her technical communication business in WA in 1999.

mcnallyMargaret McNally

How many ‘p’s exist in publication?
Margaret is a highly experienced editor and professional writer who has written broadly for newspapers, magazines, and corporate organisations. Until recently, Margaret was managing editor of corporate publications at Curtin University, a position she held for more than six years.

wilsonGeorgina Wilson

Editing for the web – same, same but different
Georgina is an experienced editor working with the Department of Agriculture and Food in Perth. Recently her work has concentrated on the department’s new website.

Register online now! Registration is now closed

Exam resources

If you’re taking the IPEd accreditation exam in May, you might want some help with exam stress and general relaxation/anxiety control.

Curtin University has some fantastic resources. A few of the publications cost a little but many of the resources are free. Have a look around these links to publications and MP3/4 recordings:

http://life.curtin.edu.au/health_wellbeing/Publications.htm

https://life.curtin.edu.au/health_wellbeing/Downloads.htm

https://life.curtin.edu.au/health_wellbeing/CounsellingSelfHelp.htm

Education and training for editors

If you missed our November meeting on Australian editing qualifications or if you want more information about the education and training we discussed, you can find all the details on the short courses and university degrees available to Western Australians right here.

Australian editing qualifications

Editors come from a variety of fields, with varying qualifications and degrees which have helped prepare them for a career spent polishing text. At the society’s November meeting, we will profile Australian degrees and courses which editors have used as jumping boards to their careers, or professional development for their skill sets.

Where: Tom Dadour Community Centre, 363 Bagot Road, Subiaco WA 6008 | Google map
When: Tuesday 19 November, 7.30 pm
RSVP and queries: to Amanda Ellis

November networking meeting: defamation

Date: Tuesday 20 November 2012
Venue: Tom Dadour Community Centre, 363 Bagot Road, Subiaco
Time: 7.30 – 9.15
Cost: Members $5; non-members $10
RSVP: 19 November 2012 to Jan Knight

Tea, coffee, and biscuits will be provided.

Defamation in publications
At our final networking meeting for 2012, guest speaker
John Hammond, Director of Hammond Legal, will take us
into the tricky topic of defamation, something that every
editor should know about.

Everyone concerned with the writing and distribution, or
republishing, of defamatory matter may be liable – the writer,
editor, publisher, printer and, to some extent, distributor, although
it is a defence if secondary distributors such as librarians and
newsagents prove they did not know that the publication contained
defamatory matter.

Hughes, B (ed) 1993, The Penguin Working Words: An Australian Guide to Modern
English Usage, Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, p. 165.

~
Editing therefore requires knowledge of the following matters:
… A3.1 Current definitions of libel, defamation, obscenity,
discriminatory language, intellectual property, plagiarism, moral
rights and copyright, and their implications for a publication.
Council of Australian Societies of Editors 2001, Australian Standards for Editing
Practice, South Australia, p. 2.

~
Getting indemnity insurance for work doesn’t necessarily indicate
that something is dodgy.
SoE(WA) member, 2012

~
Pretty much every large corporation or government department I’ve
worked for in the last ten years has required my company to carry
professional indemnity insurance.
SoE(WA) member, 2012

November networking session: editing scientific writing

Details
Date: Tuesday 15 November
Time: 7.30-9 pm
Place: Tom Dadour Community Centre, 363 Bagot Road, Subiaco
Cost: $5 members; $10 non-members
Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided.
RSVP 10 November Robin Barnes

Fundamentals of science editing

We are very fortunate to have Professor David Lindsay as our guest speaker this month.

Professor Lindsay travels the world teaching researchers about scientific communication. Now an Emeritus Professor at The University of Western Australia, he developed and for many years taught units in science and its communication, and scientific extension, to undergraduates in the Faculty of Agriculture.

Professor Lindsay wrote A Guide to Scientific Writing, which can be found on the bookshelves of most scientists. His new book Scientific Writing=Thinking in Words was published in February 2011.

If you wish to improve the quality of your editing overall or if you have questions about editing technical writing, this is one networking meeting not to miss! Members and non-members are welcome, so bring your friends.

Feel free to promote this session around your networks by using this flyer.

Notices

Editorial internship
Australian Book Review, based in Melbourne, seeks applications for an Editorial Intern to help edit, produce and present Australia’s foremost independent literary magazine. This is a perfect opportunity for recent university graduates seeking an entrée into publishing.

This Internship – worth $20,000 and supported by The Ian Potter Foundation – is one of the few intensive, paid editorial training programs of its kind in Australian publishing. It reflects ABR’s long-standing commitment to fostering new editorial talent, and extends the magazine’s established volunteer intern program; widely regarded as a ‘finishing school’ for editing and publishing graduates.

Applications (maximum five pages, including CV) are due by Thursday, 1 December 2011 – to editor@australianbookreview.com.au.

Please see the complete position description attached for further information.

The position description is also available on our website.

ABR gratefully acknowledges the generosity of The Ian Potter Foundation and of its many Patrons, who support the magazine through tax-deductible donations of $250 or more. These donations are vital for the magazine’s future.

‘The best journal of words and ideas. Supporters can be proud of their judgement.’

John Bryson, author and ABR Patron

IPEd webminder
The Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd) seeks a part-time webminder to join its team of voluntary workers.

It is estimated that fulfilling the role will require, on average, between 2 and 5 hours per week.

IPEd would like you to:

  • upload information to the website as requested by IPEd’s company secretary, councillors, committees and member societies of editors
  • identify material of value and interest to editors and add this to the website
  • update the website as required and archive out-of-date information
  • maintain the website’s members’ database.

The person we are looking for will:

  • have experience with website content management systems
  • be an editor and a member of an Australian society of editors
  • support IPEd’s objectives.

Applications should be sent to info@iped-editors.org by the closing date of Friday 11 November.