Getting ready for ACES

Exploring Portland

The day before the opening of ACES2016 was about food and style.

  1. Making my lunch choice.
  2. Getting the conference bags ready.
  3. A new do, Portland style.
  4. Scoring some early swag.
  5. Finishing the day with some shwarma.
  6. A plate of Shawarma at Karam Lebanese and Syrian Cuisine in Portland. #ACES2016

    A plate of Shawarma at Karam Lebanese and Syrian Cuisine in Portland. #ACES2016


What do 600-plus copy editors do at a conference?

Well, a lot, really.

Like attending nearly 60 sessions on various kinds of editing this Thursday through Sunday. Talking about word usage and language sensitivity with fellow editing travelers (sometimes over drinks in the conference hotel bar).

And then there’s raising money for scholarships to help deserving copy editing students. I’m all aglow over the fact that two of those scholarship winners this year are my students — Valerie Hellinghausen and Sarah Fine. Sarah’s joining the crowd in Portland, Oregon, this week for a lot of learning and networking.

During the 20th American Copy Editors Society conference at the Hilton Portland, we’ll all get to hear from linguists (including top dictionary editors), AP and Chicago stylebook editors, top copy editors at newspapers, magazines and websites, award-winning freelancers and corporate, government and nonprofit editors. Topic include verification, sports editing, social media analytics, working with self-publishing authors, building a freelance business, solutions journalism, headline writing, inclusive language and writing a stylebook — and that’s just a few.

I’ll be presenting a session on verification on nontraditional sources and will be on a panel about making the move to college teaching.

We’re a bit booked now, but if you have a love of words and editing, I’d consider joining in the fun during the spring of 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Do you need paper in your reference library?

The American Copy Editors Society Twitter chat on Feb. 17 was about building your reference library.

Reading the Storify of the chat can give you some good ideas about things that ought to be in your resource stack.

Of course, one question is whether that library really needs shelves. I like to keep my paper copy of the AP Stylebook because sometimes it’s easier to look up what you don’t know by browsing. Online you have to have something to put in the search. (I feel even more that way about keeping a bound dictionary.)

But I admit that I do 90 percent of my lookups for grammar, style, spelling and fact checks online these days.

The key is to find trusted sources. I’m a big believer in finding the “about” page of every website I use as a resource. It will help you determine legitimacy.

I also have a rule of thumb — find the answer in more than one place, and make sure they match.

OK, so maybe I don’t do that with the regular dictionary. I trust Merriam-Webster, although I use other online dictionaries as well — I love — because they offer different synonyms and examples. But when I’m fact checking, I don’t usually trust one source.

Many people will go to Wikipedia, which pops up first, but it can be an iffy source. However, it also can be a good jumping off point.

I recently checked a poll that used Census Bureau data, then I checked the Census Bureau website. The two didn’t agree. So who do you believe?  Sometimes you have to make judgments (I took the Census Bureau numbers, which were up to date). But finding the numbers in a third source helped.

It’s like adding a long column of numbers. I always do it twice. If the sums don’t agree, I’ll add them up at least two more times. Better safe than sorry.