Thursday, February 17, 2005

Copy editing: A look from the inside

Don Podesta, AME of copy desks at The Washington Post, and Bill Walsh, national copy desk chief (and author of "Lapsing into a Comma" and "The Elephants of Style") have an excellent Web chat on the job of copy editors and how it all works.

And the readers ask some really astute questions, among them the disposition, it seems these days, of not punctuating quotes correctly with two independent clauses.

Podesta's three things everyone should know about copy editors:

1) Copy editors are your friends. Their questions are not meant as challenges to your integrity but to make your story better and ensure accuracy.

2) That said, while copy editors can save you from yourself, don't expect them to do your fact-checking for you. Don't submit stories with holes in them and expect the copy desk to fill them in.

3) Respect the art of headline writing. The copy editor is pulling the reader into your story in just a few words that summarize the 800 words you've written, and it's not easy to do.

Good stuff.


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