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Report on ACES 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida

By Berna Ozunal

This year, 591 people travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference held from March 23 to 25 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel—the second-highest attendance ever.

I went to St. Pete’s for a few reasons this year: I enjoyed last year’s conference in Portland and learned a lot, I seriously needed to “defrost,” and I was presenting a session.

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg has a population of just over 250,000. From the Tampa International Airport, it’s just a 30-minute taxi or shuttle ride to the hotel.

I was told that March is the perfect time to travel to Florida, and it’s true. With highs between 24ºC and 28ºC, you are transported to another dimension—one where people do not walk around half the year swaddled like mummies in wool and down. (more…)

Thank you, Editors Toronto volunteers

By Berna Ozunal

Thank you, Editors Toronto volunteers

At Editors Toronto, volunteers are the lifeblood of the branch. As a non-profit organization, we rely on the generosity and know-how of volunteers to perform a variety of tasks. Our volunteers host seminars, contribute to our blog, mentor others, and represent us at educational institutions and events like Word On The Street.

If you are a member and an editor working in Toronto—or you want to be an editor working in Toronto—think about volunteering! It is a great way to learn about the industry and gain experience for your resumé. You’ll also have many opportunities to network and socialize with other editors. In the Editors Toronto My Rewards program, volunteers earn checks for their contributions. If you earn eight checks, you get $100 off a seminar of your choice. (more…)

Aces in spades: Report on the ACES 2016 Portland conference

By Berna Ozunal

Aces in spades: Report on the ACES 2016 Portland conference

The iconic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Portland sign

What do you get when more than 650 editors from all over the United States and beyond get together in one location? Aces in spades. That’s what happened from March 31 to April 2 when the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) celebrated its twentieth anniversary in Portland, Oregon. And you can be sure that the whole event was run with unearthly precision and clarity thanks to the expert communication skills of the organizers.

Rose City

Okay, I have to admit that the location was a big pull for me this year. Portland’s the land of craft breweries, bicycles, trams, roses, food trucks, “tattoo ink that never runs dry,” handmade ice cream, and doughnuts… .

About the doughnuts: Blue Star is the best, while Voodoo has ropes and stanchions to control its hordes of doughnut-eyed tourists. (more…)

The resumé, every which way: It’s a hustle

By Berna Ozunal

The resumé, every which way: It’s a hustle

In this four-part series, I’ve been looking at how to prepare an editor’s resumé. First I talked about some micro matters. Then I talked about how to present yourself on a resumé for editing work—the main take away from that was to not describe yourself as a hybrid candidate if it’s not a hybrid role. Next I talked about language and advised you not to provide information that can lead to bias and not to include humdrum, untrue, or irrelevant information.

Well, here’s the thing: The world is changing faster than anyone can type. An article in Fast Company claims that cover letters are dead. I suspected as much: I think they’re in their death throes, but some employers are still stubbornly demanding them. Either way, this is good! Now we can focus on the resumé. You have to tailor it for each job you’re going after. Gone are the days of blitzing everybody with the same resumé. In this post, I want to talk about structure, and structure is inextricably linked with content.

Start over

If you are an editor looking for work these days, I would refrain from taking the easy route and dusting off or sprucing up a previous resumé. Start over. Do your research. There are multitudes of knowledgeable people writing about job search tools. Your resumé should reflect you, and there is room on it to provide a holistic picture of yourself. For example, for editors who don’t specialize, being a generalist in the knowledge department can be a plus. If you have multiple degrees, have travelled extensively, or have worked in diverse industries, again, this is a good foundation. But just plopping it on your resumé in list form or as an add-on is what I’d advise against. It all has to work together to support your case for why you’re the best editor for the job. I’ve seen impressive “YOLO” resumés—about people who’ve climbed Kilimanjaro or marched with the penguins—but they did not explain how these life experiences would be valuable to the organization or contribute to success in the role. It is impressive in and of itself, yes. But if you can’t tie it into the I-am-the-best-editor-for-this-job story in a way that is not stilted or obvious, leave it out. (more…)

The resumé, every which way: Show, don’t tell

By Berna Ozunal

The resumé, every which way: Show, don’t tell

In earlier posts I talked about some fairly basic points to keep in mind when applying for editing work, and I offered some advice on how to position yourself on a resumé as an editor. Today, I’d like to talk about some typical errors people make concerning the language and content in their resumés. These are pervasive issues that don’t just apply to editors, but as language experts, editors should avoid them.

Adjective overkill

Hardworking, energetic, motivated, highly skilled, detail oriented, proficient, passionate, professional, outgoing, personable… . These are on the laundry list of adjectives peppering most resumés. It’s a problem because these adjectives tell, not show. By this I mean everyone can say these things about themselves, and they may very well be true, but you need to provide the evidence to back it up. That’s where the show part comes in. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, especially in our field. How do we show people the painstaking, quiet, veiled work we do? After all, our work is mostly invisible, and it’s hard to show anyone how many errors in logic, meaning, grammar, etc. we’ve eliminated or how transformative our work can be to a piece of text, whether it be on a billboard or in a thousand-page scholarly tome.

The first thing to do is to think in terms of verbs instead of adjectives. Use terms like clarified, parsed, organized, queried, resolved, distilled, researched, revised, improved, analyzed, evaluated, eliminated, negotiated, rewrote, reworded, communicated, recommended, flagged, corrected, fact-checked, managed… . You get the idea. Think long and hard about all the editing work that you’ve done. Chances are you’re overlooking a lot of the tasks, skills, and actions you perform while working. Verbs show what you’re able to do for the employer. Listing a bunch of presupposed qualities is not a good idea, that is, it goes without saying that you are hardworking and reliable; if you weren’t, chances are you wouldn’t be applying for the job—you’d be on your sofa, in your underwear, staring deeply into an empty bag of Cheetos. (more…)

The resumé, every which way: Either/or

By Berna Ozunal
The resumé, every which way: Either/or

What is editing?

Earlier, I talked about some pretty basic things editors should keep in mind when preparing a resumé. Let’s talk about something more interesting and more important this time. I think, as editors, we can agree that what editors do is not fully understood— particularly by people who need editors. From the different types of editing (e.g., copy editing, structural editing), different types of editors (e.g., production, technical), different specialty and niche areas (e.g., academic, graphic novels), and different components of editing (e.g., indexing, fact-checking), there is a perpetual fog patch that obscures our profession.

So let’s talk about what makes an editor an editor.

As with all disciplines, there are professionals, and there’s everybody else. But it’s harder for people to make that distinction in editing. I think it’s because when people edit their own writing, it typically involves checking for typos and other such peccadilloes, and they think that’s all paid editors do—not true. People also think an aptitude for language is all it takes. That is, if someone is “nitpicky” when it comes to grammar or a “word nerd,” ta-da, that person is qualified to edit—also not true. Having a high degree of literacy or having a degree in English, linguistics, philosophy—these are all excellent foundations. But what makes an editor a true editor? I think, very simply, it is being dedicated to editing, taking the discipline seriously, working full-time at it, and always building your knowledge (this includes unlearning, which is equally important). And with resumés, this is where the problem lies. (more…)

The resumé, every which way: First things first

By Berna Ozunalheadhunt-311354_1280

The resumé is often the first opportunity an editor has to woo a prospective employer or client and, as with all wooing, it’s no time for half-heartedness. For editors, their resumé is their first editing test. This seems obvious, but unfortunately, editors are not always the best at editing their own work.

I’ve written, edited, and evaluated numerous resumés, and in so doing, I’ve learned a few things that I would like to talk about here. Now, there’s no scarcity of information about all this, so I must emphasize that these are my own opinions. But, assuming that humans are evaluating your resumé (as opposed to robots, that is, resumé-reading software), I am quite confident that what I’m about to tell you can be of some value. In this post, I will focus on micro issues and, gradually, in other posts, move to macro issues. Some of the most banal things are the easiest to overlook, which is why they’re the most revealing. An editor, after all, must be meticulous.

Let’s begin with something very banal. There are three ways you can write the word resumé, but only one is right as far as I’m concerned. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary backs me up—resumé is correct. It makes sense, because that’s how you pronounce it. Yet in my experience, about two-thirds of resumé writers use the incorrect versions: resume, which rhymes with legume and means to begin again, and résumé, which makes me mispronounce it. I can’t help but mention this. It’s a clear sign that someone didn’t take the time to look it up (Wikipedia doesn’t count). A few people choose to call their resumé a CV, but it’s a different type of document, and in North America it’s not the right choice outside of the academic, research, and educational fields. (more…)