In a copy editing class I took a little while ago my teacher said something about being editor that I don’t think I will ever forget. I won’t use quotes because I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it went something like this: editors might not know all the answers, but they do know where to find them.
She was referring to the fact that copy editors might not know every rule and exception by heart, but they always have the best reference books in front of them to find out. Every copy editor has their favourites, here are some of mine:
- The Canadian Oxford Dictionary – Katherine Barber
- The Copyeditor’s Handbook – Amy Einsohn
- The Chicago Manual of Style – University of Chicago Press Staff
- Editing Canadian English – Editors’ Association of Canada
- Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing – Mignon Fogarty
These books surround me while I’m editing. Their pages are creased and folded over, some have coffee stains. It’s important to have the most recent editions. (Actually, while writing this post I discovered that The Chicago Manual of Style has released the 16th edition and I still have the 15th. Gasp!) And don’t let anyone ever tell you that you have too many reference books because, like shoes, you can never have too many.