Tag Archives: hot tips

Style guide wiki now up for online copy editors

After calling for a universal style guide in a recent post, well, here it is:

Style guide for online sub-editors 

Thanks to journalism.co.uk for the set-up. It’s editable for your learning pleasure and is full of tips, links and explanations for print subs moving over to online. Would be great to hear the input and suggestions of subs and copy editors, or go to the wiki and add your tuppence worth there.

There’s loads of things I haven’t covered, or haven’t covered enough. Please help and make this work-in-progress a useful resource.

Re-styling print copy into web conversation

Want a quick tip on how to tone up your copy for the Web? Dave Taylor at Copyblogger provides…

[I] read what I write out loud rather than just subvocalize it as I write. Not only is this a great way to learn which sentences are too long or need commas … but it also helps you “hear” which of your sentences are awkward and stilted rather than flowing and relaxed.

Basically, write the way that you speak. While Dave’s suggesting this helps him create a distinctive tone of voice, his tip also works as a generic trick for copy editors having to re-style print copy for Web.

Top 10 checks – a starter kit for online copy editors

The Web may be creating a publish-then-filter environment but when you’re looking after your publication or brand’s reputation, traditional pre-publication copy editing checks still stand. And you need to get to the info quickly and get it from a reliable source… or at least find a fast trail to one.

Here’s an off-the-shelf starter kit.

  1. For general enquiries, it’s gotta be Google. Blackle is a cute ‘energy-saving’ alternative – and it acts like a mirror on your screen for checking you still look damn good.
  2. For a subject-specific starter, Wikipedia is hard to beat, despite its detractors. Well-visited pages tend to get more accurate over time (for various reasons), but it’s wise to skip to the external source refs at the bottom of the page to double-check the ever-editable posted info.
  3. Bookmark your own set of reputable resources, eg, for the travel sector, your local Foreign Office site (this is the UK one) and the CIA World Factbook are sterling reference points.
  4. Bookmark an e-dictionary – try Dictionary.com, Your Dictionary and Hyperdictionary. Many don’t differentiate between British and American English spellings – though with a global readership this may not be an issue. Merriam-Webster does but it has pop-ups 😦
  5. For celebrity names, it’s gotta be IMDb.
  6. Crowdcheck spellings on Google – type in each name variant and see if there’s a big difference in volume of references. Think of it as an ‘Ask the audience’ for when you can’t find the answer yourself.
  7. Check trademarks – this is the UK Intellectual Property Office right here.
  8. Convert currency at XE.com.
  9. Convert measurements/weights at OnlineConversion.com. Or just type your amounts into Google, eg, 10m into cm, 50g into oz, and the answer miraculously appears.
  10. Find statistics at UK Statistics Authority and YouGov.

Okay, so this list is a touch UK-centric and possibly more mag/brand-oriented than hardcore news so open to adds. Probably missed some lovely check spots, too. Any others?