Issue 65, 10 September 2002
Editor: Jean Hollis Weber
In this issue...
What I've been doing recently (and why this issue is
Expressing a negative numeric range within a table
Is "No." an acceptable short form for "Number"?
Follow-up: Proofreading marks
Resources from the STC's Technical Editing SIG
Backing up your e-mail files
Resources from the Society of Editors (Victoria)
On-screen editing handbooks for Word (PC and Mac)
On-Screen editing workshop now also in Sydney
Looking for tips on using Microsoft Word?
The Masters Series: FrameMaker 7 books
What I've been doing recently (and why this issue is late)
In July and August my partner Eric and I travelled through the northern parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory. While in Darwin I presented some editing workshops at the NT Writers' Centre and had dinner one evening and lunch another day with some of the members of the Society of Editors.
I really enjoyed meeting everyone! Thanks to Gail Warman for organising the meals and getting me in touch with the Writers' Centre. Some contact information:
Society of Editors (Northern Territory) email@example.com
An account of our trip starts here: http://www.avalook.com.au/newsletr/oznews32.htm
Since our return, I've been working on a new book: Taming Microsoft Word 2002. Yes, after saying I wouldn't do it, despite numerous requests, I've given in. What changed my mind? Someone gave me a copy of the program and I played with it awhile. To my surprise, I really like it! Sure, it has a few annoying quirks (what program doesn't?), but overall I'm so impressed that I may finally stop using Word 97. (I never did like Word 2000 and rarely use it.)
So that's why this issue is late...
A reader asked,
"In your opinion, what's the least ambiguous way to express a negative numeric range within a table (for example, a temperature range from -45°C to -55°C)? The style guides I've checked advocate an en dash without spaces to indicate a range. They also recommend the en dash as a minus sign and, by extension (at least in my mind!), to denote a negative number.
"... Should I treat all of the ranges within that table the same way, regardless of whether they include negative numbers? And to what extreme should I apply consistency: to the table on the facing page? to all tables within that chapter? to the entire publication?"
Your question is a good one, especially in limited-space situations like tables. Here's what Scientific Style and Format, The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 6th edition, has to say (pages 54-55):
"In general the connective 'to' is preferred to avoid possible ambiguity with the minus symbol... Do not use a minus symbol ... with an en-dash...", giving as an example:
–4 to –6°C [not –4––6°C], where the – is an en-dash
I would certainly do all the ranges in all the tables using "to" rather than the en-dash, for consistency and to avoid ambiguity. If that solution causes space problems, you might have to revise one or more of the tables somehow.
Another reader asked,
"I am a technical writer working in India and I have often seen No. being used as a short form for Number. I was wondering if this is an acceptable short form.
"I want to use this on a GUI for an application that is being developed."
"No." as a short form for Number is certainly in common usage, especially in US English, so I consider it acceptable when space is limited, as on a GUI. The other common short form for number, the hash sign (#), I think is not acceptable, because it's also commonly used for other purposes including "pound" (weight, in US English) and I forget what else.
I've looked in a few books and can't find an authoritative reference one way or the other.
Margaret Cooter writes,
"It was interesting to see what Americans do with proofreading marks (22 July newsletter). In Britain we're encouraged to use British Standard 5261 Part 2 1976, which does away with words and uses just symbols. Unfortunately this publication isn't available on the web—the British Standards Institute makes money out of selling their publications, after all. It's given in many books, though.
"I'm working with SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders) to develop proofreading accreditation tests, and familiarity with these marks is a precondition of being an accredited proofreader. Scientific Style and Format, the CBE (now CSE) style manual, has a useful table comparing American and British marks, and it also gives the European convention, which is different again!"
You don't need to be a member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC)'s Technical Editing Special Interest Group (SIG) to be able to read their online magazine and participate in their discussion group, but I hope after experiencing the benefits of those resources, you decide to join.
The March 2002 issue of the SIG's newsletter Corrigo includes the article, "What are the most common editing mistakes, and what can you do to fix them?" The June 2002 issue features "Guidelines for estimating editing speed" and "Suggestions for creating a style guide." You'll also find instructions for joining the online discussion group.
The SIG's website is here: http://www.stcsig.org/te/
If you download your e-mail and store it on your computer along with your e-mail address book, you need to back up those files just as you back up other important files.
If you don't know how to back up your e-mail file, Steve Beals tells you how in the June-July issue of The Morning Groundhog (an occasional newsletter from Proficient Computing Solutions Corporation). The article covers Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, and Netscape Messenger. http://www.procomp.com/newsletter.html
On-screen editing handbooks for Word (PC and Mac)
The Society is planning to publish a series of on-screen editing handbooks for editors and writers, written by its training officer Brett Lockwood. The books will cover versions of Word up to and including 2000 (PC) and 2001 (Mac).
Four books will be published this year:
- General On-Screen Editing Tools
- Track Changes
- Proofing Tools
The styles guide and the general on-screen editing tools guide will be available around mid-year. Each volume will be 110 to 130 pages, in B5 format. Cost will be around $20–$25 per volume.
If you would like to be sent more information on any of the on-screen editing books when this information becomes available, or if you are interested in reserving one or more of these books, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org specifying the books concerned. More information is on the Society of Editors' website, http://www.socedvic.org/
On-Screen editing workshop now also in Sydney
Brett Lockwood will be presenting his popular on-screen editing workshop, regularly held in Melbourne, in Sydney as an Australian Publishers Association training course. For more information about the Sydney course, contact Libby O'Donnell, Training Administrator, Australian Publishers Association, Libby.Odonnell@publishers.asn.au, ph: (02) 92819788.
Contact Brett Lockwood with enrolment enquiries for the Melbourne courses, ph. (03) 9480789 (day or evening).
Course outlines and dates are on the Society of Editors' website, http://www.socedvic.org/
If you subscribed to this newsletter thinking it will be full of tips on using Microsoft Word, you've come to the wrong place.
Now and then I do put in this newsletter some tips on using Word, but that's not the newsletter's main purpose. Besides, I know of several excellent sources of tips for Word, and I'm not going to try to compete with them. I've listed them at http://www.jeanweber.com/links/word-res.htm
Last issue I mentioned the Word-Mac discussion list. McEdit is another list for Mac users. It's for editors to discuss matters that are of limited interest to lists such as Copyediting-L because they are specific to the Macintosh.
To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message to McEditemail@example.com.
Twelfth Night Books has announced two new titles:
XML and FrameMaker 7, ISBN 1-930597-03-7
The Masters Series: FrameMaker 7, ISBN 1-930597-02-9
Here's what the author (Thomas Neuberger) says,
- If you have our Frame 6 book and plan to use XML, you can buy just XML and FrameMaker 7. Our Frame 6 book provides everything you need to run FrameMaker 7 in unstructured (non-XML) mode.
- If you have our Frame 6 book and don't plan to use XML, you can simply download the New Features chapter from our website, and put off purchases until later.
- If you are new to FrameMaker, you can purchase the two-volume set—it represents a complete guide to FrameMaker 7.
For more information, go to http://www.TwelfthNight.com/
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