Copy editors can be an awfully ornery lot. They love correct grammar and punctuation so much, they are willing to make writers feel bad in order to get them to fall in line with their style guide standards of perfection. While I can never condone imperfect copy, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about perfecting the world.
And I quote (from Twitter posts in the last few hours):
Jerry Tarkanian hospitalized after a WHAT? Why Sports Illustrated needs a copy editor. bit.ly/ggggg
Just saw an Edwardian corset cover described as “Islet” – really, people, you need a little textile knowledge, and a good copy editor…
Copy-editor fail: “It’s a viscous rumor.”
some many typos on it. Do you need a copy editor, Mr. Professional Journalist? “its diversity andbreadth of experience”
Well, they could do with a decent copy-editor for one thing; the whole thing is RIDDLED with typos!
I will refrain from pointing out the obvious errors on the copy editors’ parts.
The thing is, sometimes people ask for our opinion and sometimes they don’t. As copy editors, we usually never ask for an opinion, and if an ornery copy editor tries to criticize my editing, I will be just as ornery in return (see related post below for evidence, haha). If, however, the chief editor of the CMOS pointed out an error, I would have nothing but nice things to say in response. I can already imagine my “Thank you for taking the time out of your royal duties to stoop to my level and further my career” style of reply.
One girl said, “My copy editor … seems to enjoy pointing out how silly I am.” Yuck! I hate to have that implied because my pride tells me I am good at my job. I dislike (intensely) having someone point out things I missed while neglecting to highlight the good job I did on everything else … but … I am a fallible copy editor, and I need to be gracious when corrected. How else will I remain on the path to perfection?
I could change things. I could say nice things when I notice other writers’ mistakes, such as: “I noticed something you must have overlooked,” or “Not sure if you caught this. ” When (not if) I’m corrected, I could thank the person who took the time to let me know my mistakes instead of getting all riled up and blasting back. I’m probably only writing this to myself because you’re all so perfect, but humor me while I write this last statement to myself.
Ornery never won anyone over.