Mar 05

Style Exercise: Revising Wordy Sentences

Exercise 13.7 (page 236)

  1. I think my outdated computer, which is five years old, needs to be replaced by a new one that is much faster.
  2. The new intern has a very nice personality and is attractive and everyone seems to be drawn to him.
  3. Due to the fact that that many writers use a lot of jargon when they write, a workshop will be held Tuesday for the benefit of our writers and editors so they can address this issue in a timely manner.
  4. My managing editor says she wants to go back to writing for the magazine she used to write for in Paris before she had this job because she misses the challenges that job called on her to perform.
  5. As many people who read carefully are aware, statistics can often be manipulated to conform to a writer’s agenda, and many times can be just plain nonsense. For example, to say that 50% of the legal marriages that occurred during the past 30 years included women is laughable and even flawed. Or, to say that a person who graduated number 50 in a class of 100 people graduated in the bottom 50% of the class instead of the top 50% of the class is to put a spin on the that person’s class ranking.


Feb 19

Practice with Style

Persona and Readers:

Read the following paragraph. First, discuss the suitability of the persona and style, assuming that the passage appears in a manual for volunteers assisting a probation officer. Then, discuss the suitability assuming the passage appears in a law textbook. How do context and readers influence your description of the style? What stylistic features make the passage appropriate or not for the two contexts?

Probation is a method of disposition of a sentence imposed on a person found guilty of a crime. It is a court-ordered sentence in lieu of incarceration. The offender remains in the community under the supervision of a probation officer for a predetermined period of time. If compliance with the terms and conditions of probation set by the court is made by the offender, he or she is discharged from the court’s jurisdiction, and the debt to society is considered paid. If compliance is not made, another method of sentence may be imposed which may include incarceration.

Determining the Author’s Meaning:

The following examples come from a government website, and they are an excellent exercise in reading between the lines.

  • A number of different approaches are being tried…
  • Extensive report is being prepared on a fresh approach to the problem…
  • Close project coordination…
  • Major technological breakthrough…
  • Customer satisfaction is delivered assured…
  • Preliminary operational tests were inconclusive…
  • Test results were extremely gratifying…
  • The entire concept will have to be abandoned…
  • It is in the process…
  • We will look into it…
  • Please note and initial…
  • Give us the benefit of your thinking…
  • Give us your interpretation…
  • See or or let’s discuss…
  • All new…
  • Rugged…
  • Lightweight…
  • Years of development…

Feb 17

Punctuation Exercise

Correct the punctuation in the following sentences, and then, explain why the change was necessary.

  1. The copy center, like the check cashing service and the convenience store would be open 24 hours each day.
  2. Harris/3 M offers a 36 month leasing plan. For the proposed copies for the center, the 6055 and the 6213. Lease costs would be $702 per month which includes maintenance.
  3. If the target goal of 36,000 copies per month billed at $.045 is met the equipment would pay for itself in 2.5 years sooner if the monthly allowance is exceeded.
  4. The fixed costs involved with this project; electricity, ventilation and floor space are not considered.
  5. There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation; UV-A and UV-B. UV-A radiation which is frequently used for tanning beds, is lower in energy (longer in wavelength) than UV-B therefore it is considered safer than UV-B radiation. Some experiementers; howver, believe that UV-A is just as damaging as UV-B; although higher doses of UV-A are required.
  6. Many theories about the depletion of ozone have been proposed but at present, two main hypotheses are widely accepted; the chemical mechanism and the dynamic mechanism.
  7. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) such as the refrigerant freon, are very inert compounds, however, when CFCs drift into the upper atmosphere ultraviolet light will activate them.

Feb 17

Working with AP style

To help prepare you for the first assignment (due next week), work your way through these questions.

  1. What tense should you write in?
  2. Begin your sentences __________.
  3. What types of numbers are the exceptions to the rule about how to spell/write numbers?
  4. How are states abbreviated?
  5. Eight state names are always spelled out – name two of them.
  6. When are titles capitalized?
  7. Is it advisor or adviser?
  8. What is the symbol for “indent for paragraph”?
  9. Do you spell out percent or use the symbol?
  10. Which is correct: November 2010 or Nov. 2010?

Feb 05

Grammar Self-Diagnostic: Part Two

As promised, here is part two of our self-diagnostic:

14. This is one of the prizes that are going to be given to the outstanding technical editor.
15. When they realized the mechanic was not going to show up, they decided to repair the car theirselves.
16. I’m confident that everybody who works diligently on these exercises will improve their grammatical acumen significantly.
17. Its time for all the students to return to their dorms and study their lessons.
18. Either you or the interns is capable of handling the editing assignments.
19. “Why don’t all of you sit down and be quiet” screamed the professor!
20. After you recieve your degree from the university, do you plan to attend graduate school?
21. If I was expected to have my PowerPoint presentation ready for today, you should have notified me earlier.
22. My children got alot of toys for Christmas that made too much noise.
23. The reason I copied his paper is because I ran out of time and needed to turn in something.
24. Learning grammar is time-consuming, sometimes difficult, but is definitely rewarding.
25. He was concerned that the last check he wrote would overdraw his account; but fortunately, he had just enough money to cover it.

Feb 03

Get to Know Your Word Processing Program

To make sure you are familiar with Microsoft Word (or another word processing program), complete the following activities:

  1. Apply styles in text.
  2. Change the format of a style (such as one font to another, spacing before a heading, etc.)
  3. Turn on the reviewing toolbar.
  4. Show individual reviewers.
  5. Change which reviewer’s comments show.
  6. Show individual types of changes (insertions and deletions, comments, etc.).
  7. Track changes – turn on and off via button.
  8. Compare documents in window.
  9. Merge two documents.
  10. Insert and delete comments.
  11. Move to the next change using buttons on the reviewing toolbar.
  12. Accept all changes.
  13. Reject all changes.
  14. Make two columns.
  15. Create a running header or footer.
  16. Insert page numbers.
  17. Make a .pdf file.
  18. Use a template stored within the program.
  19. Find a template online, published by your program’s company.

Feb 03

Grammar Self-Diagnostic: Part One

Today, in class, we will take part one of a diagnostic: determine the error in the following sentences.

  1. Brandon said it is alright if I borrow his style manual if I promise to return it tomorrow.
  2. “I assure you, Davis. It is not I whom is to blame.”
  3. Due to the fact that the economy has turned downward, we decided not to hire another copy editor.
  4. If I had known that you needed a ride to the office, I would of been glad to drive by your house and pick you up.
  5. Jamie is one of the students who is going to apply for the copyediting job next week.
  6. Neither the class or the professor wanted to have the test next Friday.
  7. All of you completed the assignments without hardly any errors.
  8. Mike wants to go to the concert tonight, however, his girlfriend insists they study for their technical editing quiz tomorrow.
  9. Please loan me a couple of dollars for lunch.
  10. Although the professor’s pen had leaked into his shirt pocket, everyone continued to work at their desk as if nothing happened.
  11. Her attempts to dramatize the affects of driving while intoxicated were not lost on the class.
  12. “Why did you bring your boss along?” Marty asked, “we cannot squeeze anyone else into the car.”
  13. Riding with the top down, the convertible energized the young sales clerk.

Jan 27

Revising Critical Statements

A question to a writer is called a query. The term is also used to refer to all comments from the editor to the writer. In phrasing your queries, write directly and courteously, and avoid evaluative statements, especially when the evaluations are negative. Chapter Two gives proven strategies for effective editorial feedback.

Think of ways to revise these statements to encourage productive revision – you will have to invent specific details.

  • The style seems too sophisticated for the intended readers. You’ve used too many abstractions, long sentences, and confusing words.
  • Third-person style and passive voice are inappropriate in instructions because they make readers think someone else is supposed to act.
  • These sentences are awkward.
  • The whole section of the report is unclear.
  • The brochure is poorly organized. Why would you put the main objectives of the training session half way through the document?
  • It’s impossible to tell why the project you propose is important.

Jan 17

Course Information

The “Schedule” page is now updated with the reading schedule and assignment due dates – please look through that before Wednesday’s class.

I also want to give you the companion website for our textbook: Downloadable Student Resources. This site has additional exercises, activities, and quizzes.

Jan 15

Information on Levels of Editing

Although our course will be focusing on basic copyediting, proofreading, and comprehensive editing, you should be aware of the “five levels of edit” (borrowed with permission from Dr. Palmer’s Technical Editing syllabus):

  1. substantive/organization edit – is there enough of the right kind of information to convince your reader to act? is the information culturally inoffensive? is it organized logically and effectively?
  2. language and mechanics edit – is the spelling and grammar correct? are sentences punctuated correctly? is the information accurate?
  3. graphic/document design edit – are graphics properly titled and labelled? are photos properly cropped? are there navigational aides to guide the reader through the material quickly?
  4. unity/coherence edit – are text and graphic integrated effectively? do all the pieces work together to effectively convince the reader to take the desired action?
  5. policy edit – does all information adhere to company policy? is the document free from statements that could reflect negatively on the company? does it contain the company logo?

Further information about the five levels of edit can be found here: “Levels of Edit”

On the other hand, some editors and technical writers use the three-level approach; the writers of Technical Editing in the 21st Century approach texts in this order: editing for correctness, editing for visual readability, and editing for effectiveness.

  • Editing for Correctness fixes grammar and mechanics within text
  • Editing for Visual Readability looks for document design issues
  • Editing for Effectiveness examines content issues such as organization, sentence structure, style, logic, and meaning

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