Rows of desks face a projection screen in a classroom-like environment.

Event Review: A Matter of Style

Written by Eric Damer; copy edited by Karen Barry

Review of seminar Stylistic Editing: Beyond the Basics with Nancy Flight (offered by Editors BC on October 31, 2015)

When the manuscript you’re editing has sound structure, good grammar, and perfect punctuation, is there anything left to fix? If the manuscript remains awkward, dull, or confusing, then perhaps it is time for some stylistic editing. Our “Halloween” workshop on October 31 with Nancy Flight explored ways to “clarify meaning, improve flow, and smooth language.”

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Meet the Instructor: Nancy Flight

by Lynn Slobogian

Nancy Flight is associate publisher of Greystone Books. She has been editing books for more than 40 years, both as an in-house editor and as a freelancer, in Canada and the United States. She has worked with such authors as David Suzuki, Evelyn Lau, and Wade Davis, among many others. She received the 1988 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence for her work on Genethics: The Art of Engineering Life, by David Suzuki and Peter Knudtson.

In addition, she has taught in the SFU Master of Publishing program, the Banff Book Editing Workshop, the SFU Book Editing Workshop, and the SFU Book Publishing Workshop, and has taught writing at SFU.

Nancy is also a past president of Editors Canada and of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia, and has served on the executive council of the Association of Canadian Book Publishers. She was responsible for revising the standards for stylistic editing during Editors Canada’s review of professional standards in 2009. She currently sits on the Langara College Publishing Advisory Committee.

Nancy will be teaching Editors BC’s October seminar, Stylistic Editing: Beyond the Basics, on October 31. Lynn Slobogian, professional development chair, chatted with Nancy about her extensive editing career, her predictions for the future of publishing, and choosing one’s battles while editing. Read on.

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EAC-BC seminar: March 29, 2014

If you’re new to editing or looking to brush up your substantive editing skills, this is the seminar for you: a full day in Victoria on March 29th with Yvonne van Ruskenveld on the ins and outs of stylistic and structural editing. Book before March 8th to get the early bird rate.

  • What: Structural + Stylistic = Substantive Editing with Yvonne Van Ruskenveld
  • When: 09h00–16h00, March 29, 2014
  • Location: Room C112 David Strong Building, 3800 Finnerty Road, University of Victoria, Victoria
  • Cost: Members, $120 (before March 8th) & $140 after; Non-members, $180 (before March 8th) & $200 after
  • Register (closes March 21st)

For anyone who’s attending and would like to write a review for WCE, please contact Kerry or Anastasia at westcoasteditor(at)editors(dot).ca.

Image source.

Event review: #LFMF

Couldn’t attend EAC-BC’s #LFMF event? Don’t worry. Programs co-chair Frances Peck has compiled a list of the “editing lessons learned”—editors’ true confessions, if you will—that were shared that evening.

At EAC-BC’s first meeting of the season (on September 19, 2012), about 35 of us gathered at the YWCA in Vancouver to drink wine, nibble cheese, catch up with fellow editors, and confess our failures. Humility was the watchword of the evening as we tweeted editing lessons we’ve learned the hard way (using the hashtag LFMF, learn from my fail) or described our embarrassing moments to the group.

See slide show.

The “winning” #LFMF lesson

The (unofficial) winner, for its black humour and high “uh-oh” factor:

Always turn off autocorrect. My instructor’s last name, Vigna, was autocorrected to vagina without my noticing.

More #LFMF lessons

The various lessons—about the importance of proofreading, the need for careful estimating, the pitfalls of technology, and more—were too valuable to keep to ourselves, so we’re sharing them with WCE readers. A big thank you to those who laid bare their biggest gaffes so that others needn’t repeat them.

“Materiel” isn’t always a misspelling. Learned the hard way from a military client.

Always review the document, or a good sample of it, before estimating. What’s described as an easy edit may really be a nightmare.

Proofread every invoice. I once tweaked my template and got my postal code wrong! Delayed payment, red face.

Say yes to every project and you’ll sacrifice quality. I look back on work from hectic times and know it wasn’t my best. Ouch.

If you’re sending an attachment, attach it BEFORE you write the email and forget to do it.

Before sending a style sheet to the client, don’t forget to give it one last A-to-Z sort.

Proofread your invoice template. There is no such thing as the GSH tax.

Mix estimate with educate for big jobs. Itemize the tasks you’ll do at each stage. Helps client appreciate the value for the $$ estimate.

Make sure all comments to self are deleted from final edit. Author should never see “Boring!” or “Gibberish.”

Always estimate based on word count—never on page count.

I edited a dissertation in LaTeX. When the (now) prof gave me the published copy (in person), I saw I’d edited no footnotes.

Your awesome new time-tracking software doesn’t do much good if you don’t press the “start” button.

Sent out a resumé several times mentioning articles I had published in a “newpaper.” Applying for copy-editing jobs.

When signing off with “Regards” in a memo to an author, keep in mind that the G and T keys are in close proximity.

See slide show.


EVENT LISTINGS: October 2012

Do you have an event planned (or know of one) that you’d like to appear in these listings? Send us the details.

October 13, 2012: International Plain Language Day

Are you a Plain Language advocate? Mark your calendar for October 13, 2012, the date of the International Plain Language Day virtual conference. Several Canadian-based organizations are planning online events to mark the day. See online program.

  • Location: online


October 16–21, 2012: The Vancouver Writers Fest

This year marks the 25th anniversary of The Vancouver Writers Fest, a great reason to purchase tickets to attend readings by your favourite local, national, or international authors. As always, Writers Fest needs volunteers to help stage the six-day festival. If you can help, fill out this online registration form.


October 17, 2012: EAC-BC meeting: What Editors Need to Know about ebooks

What goes into making an ebook, and what do editors need to know about it? Find out at EAC-BC’s October 2012 meeting.

At the meeting, speaker Lara Smith will review different ebook formats and the kinds of content best suited to each, discuss different conversion methods, and compare in-house and conversion-service workflows.

She will also:

  • review a typical conversion and explain what kind of work is required after export, particularly to accommodate various e-reading devices,
  • review the inside of an EPUB file and metadata requirements,
  • discuss digital rights management options,
  • discuss how deciding to produce an ebook can affect the editing process.

About the speaker: Lara Smith is the print and digital coordinator at D&M Publishers, where she focuses on production for print-on-demand and ebook conversions. She is fluent in traditional and digital printing technologies, passionate about workflow, and amazed at how fast the digital world is evolving.

  • Time: 19h00–21h00
  • Cost: free for EAC members; $10 for non-members; $5 for students with valid ID
  • Location: YWCA on Hornby, 535 Hornby Street, Welch Room, 4th floor, Vancouver
  • Registration: at the door


October 19, 2012: Planet Earth Poetry Reading Series

Love poetry? Live in Victoria? Check out one of the Planet Earth Poetry readings, held each Friday, September through May. The readings are billed as a “launching pad for the energies of writers and poets established and not” and as a place where “all manner of poets and writers are welcome; a place for excellence, innovation, collaboration, diverse projects and experiments.”


October 19–21, 2012: Surrey International Writers’ Conference

The Surrey International Writers’ Conference attracts authors, editors, and agents from across North America. Once again, EAC-BC will be providing editors for the popular editor/agent/producer interviews; if you’d like to be considered, please contact PR chair Jessica Lowdon.


October 20, 2012: PEAVI seminar: Advanced Proofreading

This exercise-based seminar, hosted by the Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island, will be helpful to you if you wish to advance your proofreading skills, prepare for job advancement, or study for EAC’s proofreading certification test this fall.

Course material will be supplied, but you should bring a current dictionary, pencils and pens, a calculator, and a ruler or other measure that you now use on the job.

This seminar will focus on beyond-the-basics proofreading skills, offering you the opportunity to examine excerpts from complex documents and to learn how to fine-tune your proofreading eye to catch every error. With documents ranging from recipes to journal articles, you will be challenged to use your judgment to weigh the pros and cons of making changes, querying authors, or making no changes at all.

Instructor Ruth Wilson will spend time discussing the process a proofreader must follow when part of a larger production team. She will also provide examples of process checklists from publishers and organizations.

About the instructor: Ruth Wilson has more than 25 years’ experience editing and proofreading trade books, professional journals, association publications, and corporate materials. She worked for many years with Vancouver book publisher Self-Counsel Press, but in 1997 she decided to spread her wings as an independent consultant. She is now a partner in West Coast Editorial Associates.

Ruth is also a respected instructor in the Writing and Communications Program and the Summer Publishing Workshops at Simon Fraser University, where she teaches proofreading, editing, and Plain Language skills. She has also served on several national committees of the Editors’ Association of Canada. In 2011 she was honoured as a recipient of EAC’s President’s Award for Volunteer Service.


October 26, 2012: Planet Earth Poetry Reading Series

Love poetry? Live in Victoria? Check out one of the Planet Earth Poetry readings, held each Friday, September through May. The readings are billed as a “launching pad for the energies of writers and poets established and not” and as a place where “all manner of poets and writers are welcome; a place for excellence, innovation, collaboration, diverse projects and experiments.”


October 27, 2012: EAC-BC seminar: Structural + Stylistic = Substantive Editing

Substantive editing brings order to chaos and breathes life into moribund manuscripts. By reorganizing and revising, you can help authors reach their readers effectively. But facing a disorganized, incomplete, or overstuffed manuscript can be daunting.

In this seminar, instructor Yvonne Van Ruskenveld will discuss techniques for assessing non-fiction manuscripts, identifying problem areas, creating solutions, and working with authors. Whether you edit newsletter articles or full-length books, you will learn strategies and techniques that can enhance your substantive editing skills.

Here’s what people who attended this seminar in March 2012 had to say:

  • “Yvonne was a fantastic speaker—very practical with a great sense of humour.”
  • “Well organized, well paced, offered opportunities to practice and to ask questions.”
  • “Felt confident I was getting solid info.”
  • “A nice mix of discussion, lecture, and hands-on material.”

About the instructor: Yvonne is an experienced editor and writer who enjoys transforming sprawling, jumbled manuscripts into interesting, readable publications. She has worked both as a freelancer and as managing editor for an educational publisher. Her clients have included publishers large and small, other businesses, governments, a commission of inquiry, non-governmental organizations, and academics. She has worked on manuals, reports, brochures, websites, trade books, and textbooks. Yvonne is a partner in West Coast Editorial Associates.

  • Time: 9h00–16h00
  • Cost: $120 for EAC members who register by October 5, 2012 (after: $140); $180 for non-members who register by October 5, 2012 (after: $200)
  • Location: SFU Vancouver, 515 West Hastings Street, 2925 Hemlock Printers seminar room, Vancouver
  • Registration


Editor pens press release in style of King James Bible

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt, 1633 (or possibly, the Bowen Island ferry).

TO: West Coast Editor

FROM: David Harrison

Earlier this year, I attended an EAC-BC stylistic-editing seminar. I enjoyed the writing exercises, especially one requiring each of us to write a press release announcing that the next sailing of the Bowen Island ferry would be cancelled due to bad weather. We were given several styles to choose from, including that of Jane Austen and the King James Bible. I chose King James …


A message comes down from on High to the waiting hordes, &c.

AND an Herald came down from on High to the fearful crowds, assembled by the boats on the shore of the Salish Sea.

2 O ye of little faith! saith the Herald. Ye, who dwelleth in the dank wildernesses of Bowen Island, who yearn to see the nether reaches of the Salish Sea: hearken now unto the voice of those who go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters!

3 Behold, as this day dawned, there arose a great tempest, insomuch that the ships were covered with waves: and the sea captains were sore afraid.

4 But the wind abateth not.

5 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and they who prophesy about such things hear the sound thereof but cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth.

6 It is enough, saith He: we have given up the ghost: verily, the peoples that live in the Land of Cristy shall not set forth upon the seas this day.

7 We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry, quoth the Herald.

8 And there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.