Copy Editing Class I


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  • Since many of you probably started texting long before I did, you may be wondering whether spelling still matters. The article covers two sides: some say language and grammar just as important as ever; others say not as important. What are your thoughts? How do you feel about grammar and language use in general? Anyone have pet peeves about others’ grammar mistakes? Do you think that since anyone can publish online, good use of language can set you apart?
  • Hand and cheese sandwich
  • Piggy’s vs.Piggies
  • South of the Boarder – here’s a classic case of a homophone mixup. How should border be spelled? This picture was taken in L.A.
  • If anyone here is planning on getting a tattoo, remember to bring a dictionary. If there is a word that has personal significance for you, learn how to spell it. The sad part about this is that neither the tattoo artist nor the client caught the mistake.
  • So let’s look at some examples of typos and other mistakes in journalism and see how silly it makes us look.
  • See the problem with this headline? Unfortunately, spell check can’t always help us!
  • This one’s priceless. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • This is where the Chronicle Herald misspelled its own name when announcing some awards.
  • Here we have more classic apostrophe abuse, plus the capitalization of every word.
  • Another major category of mistakes is the use of unnecessary quotations. In researching this class, I discovered that there is an entire blog and book dedicated to the abuse of quotation marks. Imagine saying this sentence with air quotes – there is an implication of something very wrong with those boxes.
  • Here’s another example of misused quotes. It seems that the sign writer wants to emphasize the phrase is not by highlighting it with quotes. Have they heard of underlining?
  • Fried boloney sandwiches. “They’re delicious!” Says who? The people trying to sell them. No need to quote yourself. Sign writers like to use quotes to imply that this is a testimonial about the offered service or product.
  • Don’t think that misspelling and word usage is only of importance if you’re going into print or online work. This one goes out to all the broadcast people in here. This incident took place after an interview about Vancouver Island, where, according to the interviewee, people used to “canoodle”.
  • One of the signs that spelling does still matter is readers’ reaction to misspelling. Here are some quotes from Kathy English, the Toronto Star’s public editor.
  • I don’t believe texting will kill the English language, and I’ll show you a video that helps put texting in perspective. This is part of a TED talk by linguist and writer John McWhorter. TED stands for Technology, Education and Design – speakers are chosen on various topics; their speeches posted online.
  • Copy Editing Class I

    1. 1. Print Bootcamp So you think you can edit? • Introductions • Does spelling still matter 2U? • Grammar game • CP Style basics
    2. 2. Does spelling still matter 2 U?
    3. 3. Source:
    4. 4.
    5. 5.
    6. 6.
    7. 7. Canoodle video:
    8. 8. Spelling matters to readers “Our readers remind us constantly that spelling matters.” “Misspellings and typos in the newspaper and online can provoke more passionate reader indignation than just about any other journalistic transgression.” Kathy English, public editor, Toronto Star
    9. 9. TED talk on texting O LxsVQ
    10. 10. Grammar quiz O Class divides into two teams O Each team member answers a question O If that team member can’t answer, the other team gets a chance for half a point. O Have fun!
    11. 11. Grammar quiz Question 1: It’s been a particularly dry summer in Halifax. Meteorologists recorded less than 10 days of rain from June through September.
    12. 12. Grammar quiz Answer 1: It should be “fewer than 10 days” O Use “fewer” for count nouns: I drink fewer cups of coffee at night than I used to. O Use “less” for mass nouns: I drink less coffee at night than I used to. O The “less than 10 items” sign at the grocery store should read “fewer”.
    13. 13. Grammar quiz Question 2: The elementary school’s new meditation program has a calming affect on students, principal Bob Connor says.
    14. 14. Grammar quiz Answer 2: It should be effect, not affect. Affect (verb): to influence, have an effect on. Effect (noun or verb): a result; to bring about, accomplish
    15. 15. Grammar quiz Question 3: Every time they take the children to the neighbourhood park, they see used syringes laying on the grass.
    16. 16. Grammar quiz Answer 3: It’s lying rather than laying. Lie doesn’t require a direct object, but lay does: He lies down to sleep. He lays the book down on the table.
    17. 17. Grammar quiz Question 4: Witnesses gave police numerous tips about the masked man that fled the scene of the liquor store robbery.
    18. 18. Grammar quiz Answer 4: The masked man who fled the scene of the robbery. That usually refers to objects, who usually refers to people.
    19. 19. Grammar quiz Question 5: “Sexist frosh chants aren’t just a womens’ issue,” said Katrina Jones, who studies at McGill University. “The school culture concerns all students.”
    20. 20. Grammar quiz Answer 5: It’s apostrophe s in women’s, children’s, people’s. Singular and plural nouns that don’t end in s take an apostrophe s to form the possessive. Plural nouns ending in s take an apostrophe alone: Teachers’ apples, the Joneses’ daughter
    21. 21. Grammar quiz Question 6: Now that the provincial election campaign has kicked off, candidates’ posters will be an every day sight around Halifax.
    22. 22. Grammar quiz Answer 6: When used as an adjective, it’s everyday; as a noun, it’s every day.
    23. 23. Grammar quiz Question 7: Fire destroyed an historic building in Stittsville, Ont., on Monday, causing almost $500,000 in damage.
    24. 24. Grammar quiz Answer 7: It’s a, not an, before historic or historical.
    25. 25. Grammar quiz Question 8: Many millennials – those born in the 80’s and 90’s – are struggling with student debt and limited job prospects.
    26. 26. Grammar basics
    27. 27. Grammar quiz Answer 8: It should be ’80s and ’90s, not 80’s and 90’s. The apostrophe stands for the missing 19 in 1980 and 1990.
    28. 28. Grammar quiz Question 9: The couple was planning to file a lawsuit against the construction company that built their leaky condo.
    29. 29. Grammar quiz O Answer 9: The couple were planning – couple takes a plural verb when it is used in the sense of two persons. O When the word couple treats two people as a unit, the verb is singular: A couple pays a $10 ticket.
    30. 30. Grammar quiz Question 10: A student who participated in yesterday’s anti-war demonstration claimed they were a victim of police brutality.
    31. 31. Grammar quiz Answer 10: The word “they” is plural, and doesn’t agree with “student”. The correct pronoun is he or she. This is an example of pronoun- antecedent disagreement
    32. 32. Grammar quiz Question 11: Having battered and bruised Louisiana, Florida was Hurricane Isaac’s next victim.
    33. 33. Grammar quiz Answer 11: Sentence should read “Having battered and bruised Louisiana, Hurricane Isaac moved onto its next victim, Florida. This is an example of a dangling modifier.
    34. 34. Grammar quiz Question 12: After hearing all the party platforms, many voters are still deciding who to vote for.
    35. 35. Grammar quiz Answer 12: It should be whom, not who, because whom refers to the object, who to the subject. Who stands for he, she or they Whom stands for him, her or them
    36. 36. Grammar quiz Question 13: The Conservatives’ new policy on immigration is one of many that Liberals take issue with.
    37. 37. Grammar quiz Answer 13: Sentence ends with a preposition. It should be re-written to something along the lines of: Liberals take issue with many of the Conservatives’ new policies, including their approach to immigration.
    38. 38. Grammar quiz Question 14: Quebec public health officials fear that the ongoing outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease put hospitalized seniors at risk.
    39. 39. Answer 15 Answer 14: Keep verb tense consistent. It should stay in the present and be “puts” seniors at risk.
    40. 40. Grammar quiz Question 15: The demonstrators marched peacefully carrying signs and chanting protests toward city hall.
    41. 41. Grammar quiz Answer 15: The sentence needs commas: The demonstrators marched peacefully, carrying signs and chanting protests, toward city hall. The commas are used to set off a parenthetical clause.
    42. 42. Grammar quiz Question 16: “Their going to get a chance to pass judgment on all three parties and decide whom they want in power,” said Liberal leader Stephen McNeil yesterday.
    43. 43. Grammar quiz Answer 16: It’s “they’re”, not “their”. They’re is a contraction of they are, their is a pronoun and there is a noun.
    44. 44. Grammar quiz Question 17: Starbucks announced that their new pumpkin spice latte will be available at all franchise locations on Oct. 1.
    45. 45. Grammar quiz Answer 17: Starbucks said its or the company’s new latte would be available. Don’t refer to a business as “they”.
    46. 46. Grammar quiz Answer 18: The expression is “to pique interest”. There’s a difference between peak, peek and pique.
    47. 47. Grammar quiz Question 19: The dog owner received a $30 fine for letting his German shepherd off it’s leash near the playground at the Halifax Commons.
    48. 48. Grammar quiz Answer 19: Should be its leash. It’s is a contraction of it is. Its is a possessive pronoun.
    49. 49. Grammar quiz Question 20: The outcome of the election is dependant on whether the new centrist party splinters the vote.
    50. 50. Grammar quiz Answer 20: It’s dependent, not dependant. Dependent is an adjective, dependant is a noun.
    51. 51. Bonus quiz question! Grammatically correct this Gotye song title: Somebody that I used to know
    52. 52. Grammar quiz Question 18: A childhood whale-watching trip peaked Jane Smith’s interest in marine biology, leading her to pursue the subject at Dalhousie University.
    53. 53. • grammar • spelling • word usage • CP style • structure • fact-checking • news judgment/bala nce • look at story from reader’s point of view What is copy editing?
    54. 54. Who are copy editors?
    55. 55. Copy editors are … you! O Copy desks are shrinking O Many stories go online raw O Questionable social media and other online sources O As corrections increase, credibility decreases O Onus is on reporters to get it right O Apply same standards to blogging, Twitter, Facebook
    56. 56. What is CP style? CP style is a set of journalism standards established by The Canadian Press, Canada’s national news agency. Canadian Press provides national wire stories to many news agencies. Many media outlets follow the CP Stylebook for consistency in reporting and editing.
    57. 57. Which one? mic or mike?
    58. 58. 10 examples of CP style 1. Trade names It’s iPad, Velcro, Jell-O, Jimmy Choo shoes Upper case in general; consult official website in specific cases. 2. Titles It’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. Formal, integral titles are capped; occupational titles are not
    59. 59. CP style 3. Don’t use a serial comma! Correct: We ate apples, oranges and bananas. Incorrect: We ate apples, oranges, and bananas. 4. Acronyms Use familiar ones (NATO, NHL, WHO, CBC), but not obscure ones, like the Nova Scotia Knitters’ League (NSKL) 5. Numbers Spell out numbers below 10 and use figures for 10 and up. Example: The bus crash left two people dead and 12 injured.
    60. 60. CP style 6. In Canada, words end in “our”, not “or”. For example: colour, labour, behaviour 7. Per cent When referring to statistics we write “per cent”, not percent or %. Example: The government plans a five per cent increase in education spending this year. 8. When a sentence starts with a number, write it out. Example: Five thousand homes lost electricity when the storm hit yesterday.
    61. 61. CP style 9. Periods are used in geographical and time acronyms, but not in other acronyms. Example: CBC radio, CTV news Geographical: Chester, N.S., Montreal, Que. Time: 10 a.m., 11 p.m. 10. Street names Full names are capped: Wall Street, Bay Street. Addresses are abbreviated: 15 Barrington St.
    62. 62. Homework! O Readings for next class O CP Style in- class assignment in next class counts toward final mark.
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