Taking a Different Tack

On our honeymoon my wife and I stayed at a resort that had Sunfish® sailboats available for guest use, so we decided to try sailing. (Actually I must have had to convince my new bride to try sailing. I had nearly drowned her once while we were still dating when our canoe capsized in rapids on the upper Delaware River.) We set off from the beach into a long, narrow inlet. With the breeze at our backs we reached the other end of the inlet in a few minutes.

sunfish sailboat
A Sunfish® sailboat. Source: Oliver McCloud from New York City, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Returning to the resort took much longer. With the breeze blowing into our faces we had to zigzag back and forth across the narrow inlet to move in the direction of the resort. We tipped over several times en route, but eventually we made it back to the safety of the beach. We survived; our marriage survived; and we’ve spent many hours on the water since then in canoes, kayaks, and rowboats, but never again in a small sailboat.

The process of turning a sailing vessel so that it can sail against the wind is known as tacking. According to Merriam-Webster, the use of the word “tack” in that sense began in the early seventeenth century. The figurative use of the verb “tack” to mean change direction, or of the noun “tack” to mean a change in direction, began in the late seventeenth century.

Listening to a weekly interview show recently I heard the person being interviewed use the phrase “take a different tact.” No doubt most listeners would understand what he meant—to change direction—and even listeners who know that the word he should have used is “tack” would not not think ill of the speaker for using an incorrect word.

Editors notice such things, however, and we know that subtle errors such as that can mean the difference between good writing and excellent writing. If you want your writing to be excellent, hire a professional editor.

Thank you for stopping by!


What Value Do You Place on Editorial Services?

How do you view editorial services? Do you view publication project management, copyediting, and quality-assurance activities as commodities to be purchased from the lowest bidder or even as dispensable? Or do you see quality editorial services as adding value to your publications and internal documents? Your answer can make a big difference is the quality of your publications.

Two recently published books that I read illustrate this. Both are  works of nonfiction published by small academic publishers. One, which retails for $35.00, contains misspelled words, misplaced punctuation, and other errors. The author is a friend and a careful writer. If the manuscript was copyedited at all, it appears the copyeditor may have actually introduced errors.

The second book retails for $20.00 and is very clean. The author is a family member. I read a draft of the manuscript last summer and it was clean then, but the final version apparently was carefully edited and proofed. I believe the difference between these two books reflects different philosophies toward, and value attributed to, editorial services.

What value do you place on editorial services? I’d welcome your inquiries on any project, large or small, for which you need such services.

A Second Pair of Eyes

A Second Pair of Eyes

A home-improvement contractor drove down our street and stopped in front of our house recently. He was offering free estimates for driveway sealing. I was not in the market for his services, and so I declined the estimate, but I took a business card to be polite.

Everything on the card is spelled properly, but there are several errors in spacing and punctuation. This contractor isn’t offering AP-English tutoring or résumé-writing services, so why should it matter that there are a few errors on his business card? Any small business owner knows that first impressions are important. Regardless of the service that you are offering, the materials that you use to promote your business should give the impression that you are a professional.

Have a second pair of eyes look at your promotional material and even your internal documents that clients don’t see. Those eyes don’t need to belong to a professional editor or proofreader. A detail-oriented family member or friend may catch any errors and may do it for free. If you don’t have ready access to a smart family member or friend, or if the job is too large to ask someone to do for free, hire a professional editor.

I’ve worked in educational publishing for over thirty years. I have experience with the Chicago Manual of Style. I can work with your organization’s house style sheet as well, or even help you create one! I work in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, PDF, and WordPress. Send me a message if you have a document, online or print, that needs a second pair of eyes. Thank you!