Monthly Archives: May 2017

Premier or premiere? What about premium?

Premier or premiere? What about premium?

I’m going to admit now, because there are things that all of us editors have to look up (right? Please share! Better to check than be wrong) and this is one of the ones I have had trouble with in the past and have had to commit to memory. Which one means the most important and which one means the first performance?

Premier means the first in importance or order, and this extends to being used for a head of state (in Australia and Canada, it’s the official title for the chief minister of a state or government, everywhere else it can be used to denote the head of state, “The British premier stated that …”).

A premiere is the first showing of a film or the first performance of a musical work or play. So you go to a film premiere, not a film premier.

Premium has several meanings, one of which is superior and usually more expensive – premium cat food, for example (a premium is also the amount you pay for insurance or a sum added to a normal sum in order to get something better).

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!


Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Errors, Language use



Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

In the first article in this series, we looked at what copy-typing is, the formats it comes in and how to price a copy-typing job. In this article, I will share some of the things I’ve learned doing a couple of large copy-typing projects.

I should say here that it’s not very common for me to get copy-typing projects to do – but when I get them, although they’re hard work, they are usually very interesting and rewarding.

Here are my main hints and tips:

1. Ergonomics, ergonomics, ergonomics

Copy-typing is hard work, especially if you are not used to typing a lot, for long periods of time.

If you’re usually an editor or do other mouse work, do have a careful think about the effect that pounding a keyboard will have on your shoulders, neck and back.

If you do a transcription as part of your job (like I do), you will be more used to typing fast for long periods of time.

I wrote a piece on ergonomics for transcribers a while ago – pop over and read that as it will give you some good pointers.

In summary:

  • Take care to sit up straight with a relaxed posture and level forearms
  • Arrange your chair, desk and keyboard so you’re not hunching or looking up at the screen with a bent neck
  • If your original is in a PDF or a set of images, try to use a screen where you can see it and your page on Word side by side to avoid switching between then, and large enough that you are not straining your eyes
  • If your original is on paper, get a document holder and position it by your monitor to give the same effect as having it on the screen and to avoid bending your head constantly to look at a flat sheet of paper
  • Take regular breaks to stretch, refocus and walk around

When you are quoting for how long a copy-typing job will take, factor in rest-breaks. It’s very difficult to type solidly for multiple hours at a time, and your quality will suffer.

2. Check what the client wants you to do

Does your client want you to type EXACTLY what is on the page in front of you, or do they want you to edit and smooth it out as you go along? I’ve been asked for both, so don’t assume – always ask.

If you are asked to type the document as an exact copy of the original, make sure that you type what you see and not what you want to see – you will need to include any odd phrasing, punctuation or spelling. In one of my jobs, the original writer introduced most quotations with a colon or no comma at all, where I am used to seeing a comma, and I had to be very careful to type as they typed.

3. Decide (with your client) how to deal with corrections and annotations

Many typescripts can have hand-written annotations, or maybe you’re copy-typing a written manuscript that has changes made by the author or another person. How should you deal with those?

First of all, discuss this with your client, as they may have firm ideas of how they want you to handle this.

I worked out a creative and great way to handle the hand-written annotations (including parts that were crossed out, extra parts that were added, asterisks with marginal annotations and paragraphs that needed to be moved) on one job: I typed out the typescript as normal, then turned on Track Changes and added all of the author’s annotations and marks in the appropriate places. Instead of the old type-written manuscript with hand-written corrections, we then had the modern version: a word-processed manuscript with amendments made using Tracked Changes. This worked very well.

In this article I’ve shared my three top copy-typing tips. Do you have any more? Do share them using the comments!

Related articles on this blog

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing hints and tips 1: What it is, what it looks like and how to charge


Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Copy-typing



Copy-typing hints and tips 1: what it is, what it looks like and how to charge

Copy-typing hints and tips 1: what it is, what it looks like and how to charge

In this article I’m going to share my learning points from a job I’ve recently done, copy-typing a manuscript which had originally been typewritten. In this case, it had the added complications of having hand-written alterations and corrections made to the typescript, all of which had to be taken into account. Here’s what I learned, but first a quick round-up of what copy-typing actually is.

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing means creating a Word document (usually) out of a document which is not editable in Word. This might be handwritten notes in a notebook, notes made during meetings on large sheets of paper, typescripts or PDFs that it’s not possible to convert using Optical Character Recognition.

What format do copy-typing jobs come in?

The copy-typing jobs that I have done have come in PDF format or sets of images. I’ve worked with photographed hand-written notes and in the latest case, a set of pages that had originally been typed out on a typewriter, then amended by hand, then, a long time afterwards, scanned and put into one big PDF.

You might also copy-type hand-written or typed documents on their original paper (if this is the case, do invest in a document stand). You could also receive a scanned or printed copy of a word-processed document where the original has been lost and only the printed pages are available!

It is possible to convert PDFs of type-written or word-processed script into Word documents using Optical Character recognition.

Why is this not used instead of paying someone to type out every sheet by hand?

  1. Even if you have the document converted, some errors are bound to creep in (ever read a Kindle book that’s been scanned in and notice weird spellings or gaps in words?). So someone will still need to proof-read the resulting text to check it is the same as the original.
  2. Some PDFs are simply not suitable for conversion – the pages may have copied dark, there may be all sorts of annotations and scribblings on the typescript which will confuse the convertor, there might be speckles, blotches and rings of coffee on the typescript, or the type itself might be fuzzy and indistinct.

How do you charge for copy-typing?

It’s difficult to charge a per-word rate for copy-typing because you cannot know how many words the original has.An hourly rate often works well, as this can also take into account any indistinct pages or sections, adding in annotations, etc. none of which would be covered by a per-word rate.

I tend to charge for copy-typing on an hourly basis, although this does have the disadvantage that you don’t know exactly how long the job is going to take so how much it will cost.

In order to quote either a fair (to you and the client) per-word rate or to estimate how many hours a job will take, I recommend doing a test copy-type.

When doing a test copy-type, I will typically spend an hour on a representative sample of pages from the document (usually the most complex and wordy pages, so I over-estimate how long it will take, rather than under-estimating). I will see how many pages I can type out during that hour, then divide the total number of pages by that number to see how long it will take (for example, with my last job, I managed four pages in the hour, so if the document had 60 pages, I knew it would take me around 15 hours. This gave me a ball-park figure of 40 hours for the whole job. I did it in 39 and felt quite smug).

Of course, as with all jobs, if it looks like you are going to go significantly over your original estimate, work out why (had the client only sent you a few pages, and the others had more text or alterations?) and warn your client in good time.

In this article we’ve reminded ourselves what professional copy-typing is, looked at what formats copy-typing jobs can come in and discussed why sometimes conversion from PDF to Word isn’t a viable option. I’ve also given some suggestions on how to price copy-typing. In the next article, you’ll find hints and tips for the actual process.

Other relevant articles on this blog

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing hints and tips 2: how do I do the actual work?



Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Copy-typing, Word


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Breach or breech?

Breach or breech?

I was asked about this one by my lovely friend Linda, a good friend and a super editor, too. It’s sometimes hard to think up new troublesome pairs to write about, so I love it when people suggest them to me, often because they’ve encountered someone else confusing them, sometimes for themselves (it’s the former in Linda’s case).

To breach something (the verb) means to make a hole in it OR to break something like an agreement or a law, or simply a code of conduct. A breach (the noun) is the result of someone breaching something: it’s the act of breaking an agreement or a law (a breach of conduct) or a gap or hole in a wall or other barrier. “By wearing jeans in the dining room, he breached the club’s formal dress policy”. It’s often used in a military sense, but in a general one, too.

The breech (noun only) is the part of a cannon, gun or rifle barrel that is behind the bore. The old-fashioned use of the word means a person’s buttocks, but this survives chiefly in the term “a breech birth” which occurs when a baby is turned around in the womb so that its bottom or feet emerge first.

Breeches (which that last sense of breech comes from) are short trousers, ending just below the knee, which are nowadays used in ceremonial or riding dress.

Breaches are multiple gaps in a wall, etc. or multiple infringements of policy and laws.

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!


Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Errors, Language use