Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catching Mistakes (mine, and others')

(Warning: the following post will be utterly boring to all my non-academic readers, with the possible exception of Wizard Chimp, who used to be a freelance copy editor.)

First of all: thank you to all who offered me congratulations. I really appreciate it.

Now, to my main point: Journal of Excellent Studies (hereafter JES) has a style sheet.

This is nothing unusual for academic journals: Usually, a journal wants its foot- or endnotes in a style similar to MLA, Chicago, or APA, with just enough little quirks that you have to go through and tweak them all. This is what I've been doing for more or less the last 24 hours, and I'm almost done. Time-consuming, but the process of going through and cleaning things up has been valuable: I've been able to correct errors in the notes, which I hadn't read nearly as carefully as I'd read the text. (This includes one fairly major error in which I had conflated two entirely different documents from two entirely different archives in two entirely different cities. ::ahem::)

[Small irritation: I don't like the JES' system (also in Strunk & White) of adding an extra "s" in possessives of personal names already ending in "s" (e.g. "Agnes's shoe"). It looks awkward to me.]

Here's my irritation du jour, and it has nothing to do with JES, but rather with another journal entirely -- we'll call them Foreign Journal of Smart People (FJSP). About 30 years ago, FJSP published an important article that I leaned on rather heavily for about three pages of my article. Now, as a part of my editing, I had to go back and double-check all the inclusive page numbers of the articles I used (rather than just the pages I cite). Before trekking into the stacks, I decided to see how much I could do online. I found a reference to the FJSP article, but with one word in the title spelled slightly differently than I had it. Now, this word was a foreign-language derivative of a Latin personal name, so I had no idea whether I had it right or not. Unfortunately, further online exploration yielded about 50-50 results: half with the spelling I had, half with the "new" spelling.

As the kids say, "WTF?"

Luckily, the library here has a run of FJSP, so I went down and pulled the volume. And guess what? On the title page and in the body of the article, they use my spelling. Along the top of every page of the article and in the table of contents, they use alternate spelling. Seriously.

None of this is very important, but this kind of stuff eats up hours, and I just had to vent.


Susan said...

oof. One book I edited was published with different titles on the title page and spine (and dust jacket). The title page was correct, as was the LC cataloging information, but still. Every review noticed it!

Wizardchimp said...

Who you callin' KIDS? Hrmph. I feel your pain...really, I do. I hope you can put this painful editorial experience behind you!

Interested in Interesting Development said...

Enough of your footnote frippery, woman. What of Interesting Development? What news of him?!

Dr. S said...

Yeah, the fact that it doesn't really seem to matter is precisely why it's so annoying.

I know someone whose book came out with one title on the cover in hardback and another title on the cover in paperback. I think that everything *inside* the books was the same, but because the cover was different, he always knew thereafter whether people were citing the hardback or the paperback, based on whether they used "Masculinity" or "Manhood" in the title.

Speaking of Manhood--is it just me, or does "Interested in Interesting Development" seem, er, just a little self-interested? Tee hee. (sorry, ID, if that actually isn't you there, passing as someone interested in you.)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Yes, S. I wondered about that myself.

ID is now ID, Ph.D. He was resplendent in his doctoral robes. The very angels wept.

Auto Ethnographer said...

My experience is that when there is a discrepancy in spelling, it is typically the running heads v. the title page that contains the mispelling. Many congrats on getting published in JES (and be sure to check your name spelling in the TOC listing, as well as the title page and running heads, although it sounds like JES would never make sure mistakes).

Auto Ethnographer said...

Oops...should say "such" mistakes.

Michael said...

Hey sis. My copy of The Elements of Style is from before you were born. Has it ever been updated that you know of or is one copy as accurate as another?

Michael said...

P.S. He got his Ph.D...awesome. Did you pass onto him what you were told about stealing sandwiches using the sleeves? He could probably use it to get food home from a buffet too if he missed the first opportunity!

Dr. S said...

His new nickname could be Dr. ID.

My academic hood has a pocket so big in the back / at the bottom that I think I could put a whole bottle of wine in. He could try that trick.

Belle said...

Well, late but sincere congrats. And oh yeah, chasing down those odd spellings.

Does Agnes really need another s? Hell no.