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Archive | Editing

Editing as an essential service

In a time of crisis, misinformation spreads faster than ever. The current COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Back in the 14th century, the rapid spread of bubonic plague was blamed on a variety of causes, including a divine punishment for collective sin, celestial alignment of the stars and an imbalance in the human body’s ‘four […]

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Email tone detector: helpful tool or cultural imperialism?

I’m always interested to see how automation and artificial intelligence are being deployed to help people write more clearly. The latest innovation to catch my eye is a ‘tone detector’ from the popular writing assistant software developer Grammarly. At the time of writing, the beta version of the tone detector is available as part of […]

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A Style manual for the digital age

Whenever I find myself editing a document, there are two resources I keep close at hand – a dictionary and the Australian Government Style manual. Unlike the dictionary, which I can access online (depending on the version required), the Style manual has always been a physical publication. Hopefully that is soon to change. The Commonwealth […]

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Editing with artificial intelligence

Futurists predict that many of the jobs we do today will cease to exist when human labour is replaced by artificial intelligence (AI). Is the occupation of professional editor likely to be one of them? Much of what is written about AI or automation in the workplace is negative – particularly when it is accompanied […]

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What can copyeditors learn from Hollywood?

Star Wars buffs will love this video essay, but so too will anyone with an interest in editing of any form: How Star Wars was saved in the edit. While editing a feature film is clearly a different proposition to editing a written document, there are some fundamental similarities. In each instance, the editor is […]

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When word choice becomes a political act

Part of our job as editors is to tweak any language that might make readers feel excluded or stereotyped – for example, changing ‘firemen’ to ‘firefighters’. In theory, this could be seen as a political act, but these days ‘some firefighters are women’ is hardly controversial, and we wouldn’t expect any pushback. So it is […]

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Making every word count: improving writing with data

Bad writing can be expensive. This is the conclusion of author Josh Bernoff, whose Harvard Business Review article ‘Bad writing is destroying your company’s productivity’ looks at the hidden costs of poor communication.  Bernoff surveyed 547 businesspeople, discovering they spent an average of 25.5 hours per week reading for work, about a third of which […]

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Leading the reading: wayfinding in document design

‘Wayfinding refers to information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space.’ Wayfinding is especially important in complex built environments such as airports, hospitals and universities. While you’ve probably noticed the more obvious examples of wayfinding – maps and signs – you may have been gently […]

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