Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Elements of Editing Paperback – January 1, 1982
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
Other reviewers have done a fine job of broadly covering most of the important aspects of this classic reference work still holding its own after nearly 35 years. So, I defer to their thoughtfully stated opinions. Mine is simply that writers and editors need both this and The Elements of Style in their arsenal.
I gave it four stars rather than five for an unexpected reason. I'm a novice editor with no journalism education who had four years of high school English and "CLEP'd" out of college English; my degree is in biology. Medical publisher C.V. Mosby failed to call me back for a third interview, so I moved on to other pursuits. A person with that background should not expect to be casually leafing through, for the first time, what is commonly known as the editors' Bible—written by a famous editor and scrutinized by multiple layers of professionals who have spent entire careers honing their editing skills—and suddenly be assaulted by a glaring, extremely elementary error in the text. The technical term for this in publishing is "WTF?!"
I was initially going to refrain from revealing the location to afford readers the same experience I had in finding it. Then I figured people would be more inclined to skip that exercise and just take my word for it, or to assume I was fibbing, than to actually hunt it down. So, it's in Chapter 4, in the section dubbed "The Crafty Editor." The irony doesn't stop there, though. The offending clause reads, "With experience, however, comes these realizations:". (More irony: One of the realizations detailed is that "Certain parts of a manuscript may be beyond an editor's technical knowledge." Still, readers should be able to hope that subject-verb agreement is not among these overarching challenges, particularly when the editor in question is editing THE book on editing. That a mistake of that nature could elude multiple top-caliber editors had to cost the book at least one star. Since I've read it mainly for meaning so far and haven't yet carefully proofed the text, how many more errors might be lurking is unknown.)
There is a three-part lesson to be learned here, though, that supersedes third-grade grammar. However, if your current reaction is "It's only a single letter, probably just a typo, no big deal", or words to that effect; or, if you had a seizure just now over no comma before the quote or the comma after the quote mark, you can skip this part, as the lesson is already lost:
(a) No matter how far along in your editing career you are, you're still human. Editors-in-chief, take note: You have no robots on staff. Be glad of it. Programs like Google Docs and Microsoft Word DO have robots, and they regularly commit offenses in spelling, usage, and grammar that are nothing short of astonishing. Value your people.
(b) Even seasoned professional editors, being edited by other editors, who in turn are edited by still more experienced editors, may miss errors that are not exactly arcane in nature.
(c) You, no matter where on the totem pole you might be, may come behind the best of the best and catch their flubs. That feels good. Take it from a word nerd whose occasional pastime is sitting down with a cup of tea and the New York Times, New York magazine, or the New Yorker, and picking out the errors. Try it some time—it's fun.
Why the New York state of mind? Well, that's where all the big publishing houses are, with all the experts, right? Like Macmillan, publishers of The Elements of Editing? LOL. That's right, "LOL." Enjoy!