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Monthly Archives: May 2011

There, they’re and their

This should be a popular one as it’s a very common set of mix-ups (and I know it’s not a pair, but a trio: think of it as a Bank Holiday Bonus)

There – regarding a place. “Have you been to Wales? Yes, I’ve been there.”

Their – possessive of “they” – belonging to them “Don’t take their wellies without asking!”

They’re – less formal, abbreviated form of “they are” “Are Linda and Freddie going to be at the party? Yes, they’re going to the party!”

So, if some people are visiting a female relation who lives on the other side of the valley: “They’re visiting their aunt, who lives over there”.

That’s it, really!

For why we don’t add an apostrophe to “theirs”, see my article on the apostrophe.

For more troublesome pairs, have a look at the category cloud to your lower right, or click here!

 
 

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Lead or led?

Another potentially troublesome word pair: “lead” and “led”.

Here, we’re only talking about the sense involved in taking someone or something from one place to another, not the soft metal that’s made into roofing, the thing that connects your computer to your printer, or the thing that connects your hand to your dog …

This is quite a simple one: lead is the present tense, and led is the past tense.

So, we can differentiate thus: “lead” is used in the present, including when we’re requesting something at this moment: “Lead us not into temptation” – “Every morning, I lead the cows into the field and I still do that now”.

Contrast this with use of the past tense: “Every morning last July, I led the cows into the field, but that was in my old job and I do something different now” -  “He led me into temptation”.

“I’ll lead the horse today; you led him yesterday”.

If you want to see more pairs of words, click on the “Troublesome pairs” link in the category cloud to the right of this page …

 

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What does a copyeditor do?

I’ve noticed that people have been finding this website and blog by searching for “what does an editor do”?  So I thought a quick example or two might be in order!

What a copyeditor actually does is make sure the text the author has written doesn’t have spelling, grammar, punctuation and factual errors.  When I’m copyediting a piece, I work in several different ways (according to how my client wants me to work with them):

- a Word document and “track changes” – I turn Track Changes on in Word and it shows up exactly what I do, whether it’s deleting something, moving it, or adding a word here and there.  I also use the “comments” facility to highlight a word or phrase and then ask a question or offer some alternatives.   When the client receives the document from me, they choose “show final markup” in Track Changes (or similar, depending on what word processor they’re using) and then go through accepting or rejecting my changes with the click of a button.  I always work like this with students, so they have to decide whether to accept each change, retaining ownership and authorship over the piece of work.  But some other clients like me to do this too.

- a Word document with the changes already made. This is sometimes called a “clean copy”.  I make the changes I think are needed, and the client trusts that I’m right and doesn’t need me to tell them what I’ve done.  I work like this with some clients from the start; some move over to this format after we’ve worked together for a while.  If a client isn’t a student, I offer them one of each of these two, then they can see what I’ve done but don’t have to go through accepting each change.

- an annotated PDF.  I work this way with clients whose work is already in PDF format, or when I’m copyediting web pages.  I print a copy of each web page to PDF or open the PDF document, and use a dedicated application that allows me to highlight parts of the text and add call-out boxes with comments in.  Clients who use this method include anyone who has a set of web pages, and, for example, magazine publishers, who send me the pages as they will look in the final magazine (check back soon for information on when this constitutes “proofreading”).

So, for an example, I’ve made up a piece of text that’s riddled with errors, and then I present my corrected copy underneath.  So I don’t inadvertently plagiarise someone, I’ve used my own text from another blog post.

———

From the author:

Now I’ve got more flexibility in my time-table, I suggested to my friend Laura who also works from home (and cafes, and her office…that we add in some “co-working” time to our regular lunches. The definition of coworking has extended from its original ‘working with colleauges’ idea to include working in paralell with other people, who are probably not your direct colleagues, in a space which is probably not both of your offices. That sounds a bit muddled – it’s basicly those set of people with laptop’s sitting around a big tables in your local cafe.

So, we decided to try doing this ata local cafe, and now we decided to start writing a irregular series of reviews of local venues with free wifi in which it’s possible (or possible) to work. We’re going to work our way around Queens Heath and then possibly venture farther a field.

My corrected version:

Now I’ve got more flexibility in my timetable, I suggested to my friend Laura, who also works from home (and cafes, and her office … ) that we add in some “co-working” time to our regular lunches. The definition of co-working has extended from its original “working with colleagues” idea to include working in parallel with other people, who are probably not your direct colleagues, in a space which is probably not either of your offices. That sounds a bit muddled – it’s basically those sets of people with laptops sitting around a big table in your local cafe.

So, we decided to try doing this at a local cafe, and then we decided to start writing an irregular series of reviews of local venues with free wifi in which it’s possible (or impossible) to work. We’re going to work our way around Kings Heath and then possibly venture further afield.

———-

There are some variants: a substantive copyedit, for example, will include all of the above work, plus I’ll be looking for inconsistencies in the text as a whole: for example, a character in a biography’s name changing, or the layout of a house being inconsistent in a novel – a bit like being a continuity person for a film.

In the next few weeks, I’ll talk about what a proofreader, copy writer and transcriber does (maybe even a copy typist, too!)

 

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Cafe reviews

Ooh look – we’ve inspired someone else to write wifi cafe reviews! I really enjoyed reading this one and will visit the cafe next time I’m in Glasgow …

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Reviews, Writing

 

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Affect or effect?

Welcome to the first of my weekly mini-posts on troublesome pairs of words.  Keep on suggesting new pairs on the comments to my original post!

So, today it’s affect and effect.

Quite a simple one – if you AFFECT something, it means you have an EFFECT on it.

Well, not quite that simple …

Affect is (mainly) a verb, which means “to have an effect on”, or to “make a difference to.”  Effect is used mainly as a noun, the difference that is created when something is affected.  It’s an end result or consequence.

Although you can also “Effect a change in something”, this is a different verb used in a different way.  And an affect is also used in other senses, such as to denote pretending or as a precise term in psychology, but we won’t worry too much about those uses, as they’re not the ones that tend to get mixed up.

Examples:

Bill’s injury affected his ability to play in the team, and had a bad effect on the team’s morale.

Bill affected the morale of the team when he got injured.  The effect was to make them play less well.

I will affect the balance of this blog between grammar and opinions when I post all these mini-posts.

When used in combination with another drug, this drug can affect the side-effects in a positive way.

The effect of the water on the runner was marvellous; he perked up immediately.

Sarah effected a change in the way the meetings were structured.

Thanks as usual to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and New Hart’s Rules for helping back me up!

 
 

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On (not) taking risks

What do you think of when you think of an entrepreneur? Richard Branson grinning from a hot air balloon basket, secure with his millions? Those people who started off selling eggs when they were 3 and were always selling something, so now they’ve got an empire? After writing the introduction to my latest guest post, I was thinking about what an unlikely entrepreneur I am. I never showed a flair for business as a child. I kept my head down, did mainly admin jobs; was a good problem solver and solid worker, but not that exciting or, frankly entrepreneurial. Did anyone who knows me see Libro coming, and being the success it is now?

Now, I’m not setting myself up to be a business guru. But I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I feel I have some insights and experience which it might be useful to share. So: I think there are different ways of being an entrepreneur. Some people throw everything into it and take lots of risks (aha – the title is coming in now …). Others, like me, are more careful. And maybe we won’t get the multi-million rewards (and the failures, and the lack of time for family and friends, and the stress …) but we’re still brave.

I started my business. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I didn’t take a risk with my finances and lifestyle: I ‘soft-launched’, which means that I started the business part-time while working, full-time at first, at my day job. Some people think doing this shows a lack of commitment – I don’t think I show a lack of commitment to Libro, but I do want to protect my own interests while proceeding with the business.

I went part-time at my day job. But I wasn’t taking too much of a risk, because I’d made sure in advance that I was making enough money with Libro to cover the loss of earnings – both times that I decreased my hours at the Library.

I’ve reached out to potential clients via Twitter and Facebook. But I did it more personally, subtly, answering tweets for help, reminding people of what I’m doing, rather than taking out expensive ads on all the social media. I’ve used social media and have gained clients through it, but at no cost apart from my time.

I certainly felt a bit nervous when I went to my first networking meeting. “Wear your normal business attire,” they said. What? My pajamas, or tracky bottoms and a hoody? But I suited up and went for it, and made some good contacts. Later on, I started going to the Social Media Cafe and now I’m helping out at the Social Media Surgeries. But I didn’t risk a lot of money on expensive memberships, or put everything into one form of networking; at the time of my first meeting, I was working full-time still and could not have coped if I’d suddenly developed lots of new customers. And I’m still evaluating the cost-benefit analysis of the bigger networking groups, and actively seeking new smaller, local ones to join.

So what I’m saying is, you don’t have to go out all guns blazing. If you’ve got an idea for a business but you’re not sure what to do next, think about it and start small. If you fail, you haven’t risked everything and lost it. If you succeed, you can grow slowly and carefully. It won’t work for everyone, but nothing does. This maybe offers an alternative to jumping in, if you’re not a natural risk-taker.

Good luck!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Business, New skills

 

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(Co)Working our way around town Part 1

Now I’ve got more flexibility in my timetable, I suggested to my friend Laura, who also works from home (and cafes, and her office … ) that we add in some “co-working” time to our regular lunches. The definition of co-working has extended from its original “working with colleagues” idea to include working in parallel with other people, who are probably not your direct colleagues, in a space which is probably not either of your offices. That sounds a bit muddled – it’s basically those sets of people with laptops sitting around a big table in your local cafe.

So, we decided to try doing this at a local cafe, and then we decided to start writing an irregular series of reviews of local venues with free wifi in which it’s possible (or impossible) to work. We’re going to work our way around Kings Heath and then possibly venture further afield.

Our reviews will appear on both of our blogs and appear at the same time – I wonder if we’ll have the same opinion of all of them!

Loco Lounge, High Street, Kings Heath

This large, relaxed cafe bar hasn’t been open long but seems popular with the locals, with the outside section being full on these sunny Easter days. It was pretty empty when I arrived at around 10.30 am – but this was a good thing, as I was a bit nervous about taking the laptop out and about.

First things first – a decent pot of tea can be had for £3, and they have soya milk if not skimmed (I am on a special diet for health reasons – you’ll see a lot about milk from me!) although the server didn’t seem sure about how to access the free wifi that was advertised at the front of the cafe. But she asked a manager and we were told that, instead of being given a generic username and password, we needed to set up our own logins. Fair enough, although not something I’ve come across before. The wifi was through something called U2com and I think it’s probably used across a number of locations, perhaps all of the “lounge” cafes. Fair enough, again, but it was *really* complicated to log on and use it – first of all we had to wait ages for the relevant page to come up, and then you put in a username and password, which did actually give access to the wifi connection, had we but known it, but it then redirected me to another login page, which proceeded to tell me the username was already in use (by me!) and sent Laura off to a validation page which never quite worked. I got a validation email too, which I didn’t seem to need to use.

So that was annoying, and the connection was quite slow and did drop from time to time. The other slight annoyance was the lack of electricity sockets – the only ones we could see were occupied by the plugs for standard lamps, which weren’t on. My other experiences of using the laptop in cafes suggests that there are usually more points available. Luckily I was fully charged up and it wasn’t a problem this time, but it might have been.

Points in Loco Lounge’s favour: it was nice and quiet; the tables were big and well-spaced, so it felt safe to have the laptops out and open, with less risk of spillage and other accidents than some other places I’ve visited. The staff were discreet and subtle and we weren’t hassled to buy more drinks, although we did end up having another drink (me) and lunch (Laura). No comment on the food from me, as I didn’t have any, but the prices seemed a little high for snacks, although there were a good few options for my diet, which was refreshing. The lighting is comfortable, there are free newspapers available to browse, and I certainly felt secure enough to sit and work there for a morning or afternoon.

In summary: tweak the internet connection and login and this is a great and recommended place for co-working as well as other kinds of visit.

For Laura’s review, go here!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Business, Organisation, Reviews

 

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