I don’t spend too much time talking about my work on here… other than to gripe that I have too much of it! And, although I assume that no one really cares what it is I do, I actually hear this quite a bit: “What exactly do you DO, Erin??”
Well, what I DO is edit medical journals and books. What that means (partly) is that I go through articles/chapters and correct grammar and spelling mistakes galore (and insert lots of commas, of course!). But what most people don’t understand is that 90% of what I do is not what I think of as the “proofreading” part — the spelling and grammar. Mostly what I do is make sure that styles are consistent throughout a journal or book. And STYLE has nothing to do with “right” or “wrong”; if only it were that simple!
I currently work on 10-12 different journals and average 1-2 books a month… and they all follow different styles. And, although it would be really nice if everyone could agree on a universal style to be used in these journals, it’s never that easy. Even if half of the journals use the Chicago or AMA Manual of Style (pretty popular little books in my line of work!) as a basis for their style, they all have their own “quirks,” things they want done differently. And it’s my job to keep it all straight… and make sure that, when these journals move on to the typesetting phase, everything “looks” right, according to the clients’ wishes.
I also make sure that things stay consistent… both within a single article (or chapter) and throughout the entire journal (or book). And along with making style choices and changes, I do a lot of formatting… making sure that Tables and Reference Lists are formatted the right way in Word (formatting tables is my least favorite part of the job, in case you were wondering).
When I was first hired as a Journal Production Editor 10 years ago, I thought, “The people writing these articles are wayyyy smarter than I am… how can I possibly edit what they wrote and make it better??” Because, at that point, even I didn’t understand that 90% of my job would be dealing with style issues. Now, I know better. These PhDs and MDs are smart alright, and I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about most of the time (luckily, I don’t need to know, as long as I can tell that they’re writing in complete sentences!)… but grammar is not always their strength, and they have no IDEA what “style” the journal they submit to is supposed to follow. And, well, that’s why I’ve had a job for the past 10 years.
So, that’s a very brief overview of what I spend most of my days (and some of my nights) doing. There’s a lot more I could tell you about my editing job… and maybe I’ll detail some of those points in future posts (because I know this is thrilling stuff that everyone wants to read more about!).