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Connecting Editors, Creating



Issue 1, July 2019
◼ A Journey Back in Time by Vivek Kumar
◼ Making the Re(write) Choice by Kushalrani Gulab
◼ Interview with ICF Founder Vivek Kumar by Priya
◼ Does Copyediting Matter? Why Do We Do It? by
Abha Thapalyal Gandhi
◼ Extensive Reading: The Only Way to Automate
Error Detection by Yateendra Joshi
◼ Events: Chapter Meetings, Conference,
◼ Venkataraman Anantharaman’s The Art of
Copyediting Courses
◼ Editorial Freelancers Association Membership
◼ iEdit Crossword #1 by Geethanjali Tanikella
Vivek Kumar

This inaugural issue of Indian Copyeditors

Forum’s (ICF’s) newsletter, iEdit, goes back in
time and creates a record of the informal Facebook
group’s activities ever since I created the group on
28 June 2015.
In this issue we present some thought-provoking
articles, photos and minutes of chapter meetings
held in 2019, a blog (repost) that captured the spirit
of the 2018 Editors’ Conclave at Chennai, and a
listing of 12 workshops by Yateendra Joshi for you
to choose from.
Then, we have Venkataraman Anantharaman (Dr.
Venkat for short) describing the 25 courses in
copyediting offered by
We conclude with a piece describing editing
association membership benefits. There is also a
link to a video discussion of certifications, training,
and association memberships.
This newsletter would not have been possible
without the contributors, who sent in their pieces
at short notice; the reviewers, in particular
Venkataraman Anantharaman, who provided
feedback on the numerous drafts; Anupam
Choudhury, who worked endless hours to make
the newsletter a reality; and Vidya Ravi, who
proofread the newsletter.
You can also visit the group’s website and read
blogs by editors from all over the world. There is a
photo gallery too, visually capturing all our
meetings held since 2015.
Do send in your feedback and suggestions and do
not forget to send in your contributions for the
next issue too. Mail me at

Vivek Kumar
Founder, Indian Copyeditors Forum

Kushalrani Gulab

here’s a certain irony in how editors of English public), got the flak? In other words, what right did I
language newspapers recruit reporters who may have to rewrite a piece I had not reported myself?
not be able to speak or write English well.
That’s because to do their news-breaking and C ONFIDENCE G AME
information-gathering jobs well, reporters need to
communicate with the people they speak to in the Going through the rewritten version of the story with
languages those people are comfortable with. In India, me, the senior subeditor in my department explained
English is seldom one of those languages. Reporters why I should not worry about these issues.
therefore are not recruited for their writing skills. The “Don’t worry about the writer’s style,” she said. “The
fact that their reports are to be published in English writer does not have a style. The syntax in this piece, as
does not matter—that part of the job is handled by you can see, is Bengali. He has directly translated from
subeditors. the Bengali he was thinking into English on his
typewriter. This is Bonglish, not English. So, rewrites,
in cases like this, have to be in your own words.”
N EW ( S ) TO M E If I worried that I had it wrong, she said, I could simply
ask the writer to go through it and point out errors.
I learned this the hard way in 1992, when I was a 22-
year-old trainee subeditor at The Telegraph in then “What if he hates me for it?” I asked, quivering. “He’s
Calcutta. Barely a month into my training—which so so very senior in the organization, and I am a brand-
far had consisted of editing wire copy that may have new trainee.”
been dull but was grammatically correct—I found
myself gazing at a typed article written in such poor She looked at me and sighed.
English as to be nearly incomprehensible. Then she asked: “Why do you think you’re here?”
“What … what’s this,” I asked my I didn’t know what to reply.
department’s senior subeditor.
“What am I supposed to do with If you’re sure of your basic She tried again: “Didn’t you do a
this? I don’t understand it at all!” copy test before you were given
skills—honestly, diffidence your appointment letter?”
“That’s the point,” she said. gets you absolutely
“You’re supposed to make it I had done the test, I replied, still
nowhere—you can handle puzzled.
understandable. And readable. any kind of edit.
Suitable for the magazine on “Then our bosses have already
Sunday.” agreed that you’re already good
Me? I was to do that? After just a bit more than three with comprehension, précis writing, grammar, and
weeks on the job? How on EARTH? syntax. You’ve used all your skills in this rewrite. The
reporter knows his subject better than you do, true. But
She just laughed and said: “Try. I’ll take a look at it you’re the editor. You communicate better than he
when you’re done.” does.”
So, I tried. I mentally closed my ears to the newsroom
noise, pulled my thoughts away from lunch and other
distractions, and read the piece through slowly,
scribbling notes in my journal about what I understood Not all rewrites in journalism are as drastic as the one
from it. I’ve described above. Some reporters may write
perfectly grammatical English, but need to have their
It took the whole day, but eventually I had a stories restructured in the pyramid style necessary for
comprehensible version of the original piece. Two news pieces—most important point in the first para,
problems remained, however. First, to make this piece followed by other information in descending order of
both understandable and readable, I had to redo it in importance so that if a story has to be cut after it’s
my own words, not the writer’s. That seemed placed on the page, it can be cut from the bottom in
peculiar—wouldn’t the writer hate me? Second, what if the certainty that the crucial parts of it will not be lost.
I had misunderstood the story? What if my version of
it was wrong and the writer, since his byline would Then there are reporters—usually trainees—who need
accompany the piece (subeditors being invisible to the help focusing on the main news point of the story they

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

are reporting. In this case, if there is time before going even while changing the words. This sounds undoable,
to press, the subeditor will speak to the writer about the but if you put your mind and a fair amount of time to
information missing in the story, and what else needs it, it can be done.
to be done to it. If there is no time, the subeditor will
simply hand over the piece to a more senior reporter,
trust that all the holes will be noted and filled, and all E DITOR ’ S M ANTRA
that will be left to do at the last minute will be a simple If you’re sure of your basic skills—honestly, diffidence
copyedit. gets you absolutely nowhere—you can handle any kind
Then there are self-indulgent writers whose stories of edit. Because there is just one purpose: to make sure
need to be redone because they are overstyled or too what is presented to the public is correct in content and
lavishly written for a newspaper that needs direct syntax, comfortable to read, and engaging. You may
communication. Often, the subeditor has to rewrite not get a byline for it, but you know neither the reporter
paras for the sake of instant clarity even if the original nor the newspaper can do without you. ◼
paras are grammatically sound.
And there are also reporters who have absolutely no Freelance editor and writer Kushalrani Gulab has worked in the
command over the language, but, despite that disability, newspaper industry for 27 years.
have such a unique style of expression that the
subeditor wants more than anything to retain the style

Priya Talwar

I discovered the Indian Copyeditors Forum (ICF) a

few months after I had completed a 3-month
developmental editing course online, which
developed in me a newfound and unconditional love
for editing books. The year before, in 2017,
ignorance about what editors do, a freelancer’s biggest
enemy, and the future of ICF. Excerpts from an edited
P: You have worked as a medical editor for almost
two decades, and you are content with what you do
developmental editor Barbara Sjoholm’s book An
and what it has given you. Tell us about your
Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors had made me
experience and views on (medical) editing.
curious about not just editing books but also the
relationship that needs to be built between an author V: It was a fruitful experience handling medical journals
and an editor to create the best book they both can. and books from Wolters Kluwer during my full-time
work with Aptara from 1999 to 2010. I had a brief stint
In my enthusiastic endeavor to understand the world
with SPi in 2007-2008 during which I handled work
of editing and publishing as an industry, I gained much
from publishers such as Elsevier and Oxford
useful information and practical experience, thanks to
University Press. In December 2010, I started
individuals (like Barbara), bloggers
freelancing so that I could devote
and freelance editors, and also
optimum time to my family. And,
organizations such as the Editorial
the journey as a freelance medical
Freelancers Association (EFA) The absence of a feedback editor has been amazing, as I have
who have shared so much (for free mechanism makes been working for a major US
as well as paid). And yet I was also
freelancers confident that medical journal publisher. As an
hugely disappointed.
they are doing a good job editor, it is an amazing feeling to
Why was there no EFA in India, I when the reality might contribute to the process of
thought, where one could learn making an author’s words
different types of editing accord- actually be otherwise. I meaningful, impactful, and clear
ing to one’s experience, or even would also say that it is a for the lay reader. I would say that
learn how to set up an editing question of priorities. it is great to read about cutting-
business and market it too? Why edge research as part of my job.
was there no ACES: The Society
P: In India, there are no registered associations for
for Editing where one could attend conferences meant
editors like ACES: The Society for Editing, EFA,
for all kinds of editors? Why was there no Society for
Editors Canada, SfEP, and the Institute for
Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), where one could, as
Professional Editors. What do you think that says
a member, train others and register to get freelance
about the status quo?
Maybe I was spoilt and daydreaming. You would V: This reflects the sad state of affairs of Indian
certainly think so if you knew that I was paying a book’s freelance editorial professionals. I do not recall any
price for a booklet not even half the size that explained effort being made in this direction, and the reason for
how I could set my quote as a freelance editor. that could be that freelancing is not a very old
phenomenon. Editing (outsourcing) came to India in
In the absence of a unique registered organization for
the late 1980s, and senior editors started freelancing at
freelance and even full-time editors (not just
the start of the 21st century only after they had worked
journalists) in India, I was surprised when I discovered
in-house for quite some years.
the ICF, which aims to (a) create awareness about
editing in India and (b) bring Indian editorial P: Do you think the scenario is changing now?
freelancers together. What about the response ICF is getting? What do
you think changed?
Vivek and I have spoken since 2018, on and off, and
we decided to publish an interview that I conducted V: The scenario is changing in terms of more freelance
over email and phone in 2018 in the context of the ICF opportunities (including work-from-home
newsletter. He has been working as a medical journal arrangements) being available, which makes it
copyeditor for almost two decades now and has worked necessary for freelancers to meet and discuss best
the last 9 years as a freelance copyeditor. Here he talks practices and collaborate. ICF has helped editorial
about not just his love for editing but also a general professionals come together both online and offline

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

and we have had more than 50 meetings in 18+ cities courses offered by are part of
till now. Our group’s tagline is “Connecting Editors, a WhatsApp Learners’ Group and an email-based
Creating Opportunities” and we have been very Google group. They share and discuss their problem
successful in achieving this objective. We have started sentences first among themselves and then with
offering workshops on different topics (see Venkataraman Ananthraman (Dr. Venkat) in weekly
“Workshops” later in the newsletter for more details), online mentorship sessions. For more details, check out
and we are happy that we have received some support my article “Awesome Sauce.”
from the industry in the form of venue partners.
P: Does ICF intend to cover marketing under its
Abhishek Goel, cofounder of Cactus Communications,
courses? Apart from the copyediting courses, what
Mumbai, offered ICF the use of its conference room
other courses is ICF planning to have?
(even on a Sunday) for conducting workshops-cum-
meetings. We hope that more companies from all over V: Well, our members who are good at marketing are
India come forward and support ICF. welcome to come forward with their proposal, and we
will offer workshops on these topics as well. We are
P: You started the Indian Copyeditors Forum in
also looking at offering workshops on indexing and
June 2015, soon after attending Editing Goes
Alt-Text writing.
Global, the first international conference for
editors held in Toronto, Canada. Would you say P: You say that the aim for ICF is to (a) create
that was a trigger? If so, how? awareness and (b) provide resources. Tell us about
the lack of both—awareness about editing as a
V: Yes, that was definitely a trigger because I met the
skill and editors, the workers who perform the task.
representatives of so many editing societies there and
felt bad that we in India had nothing of that sort. I felt V: There is certainly a lack of awareness about editing
that a freelancer’s biggest enemies are isolation, not as a financially viable career and more so, as many
staying on top of what is editing courses (e.g., those
happening in the industry, lack of conducted by the University of
guidance, and failure to recognize Certification is something Delhi and the Institute of Book
the importance of continuous Publishing) have been discontin-
professional development. I think
that takes time to evolve,
ued (because of a missing aca-
ICF would address all these needs and for the time being we demia–industry link) when there is
as belonging to a group makes offer free vetting, wherein a crying need in the publishing in-
freelancers feel that they have a members can send in their dustry for trained professionals
community to go back to in case who can handle the work that is
samples and get feedback
of any problem. being outsourced to India. India
on what they are doing right, does not have enough skilled free-
P: According to a 2018 survey what they are doing wrong, lance editors, and a solution could
you conducted among ICF
and what they are not doing be for companies to invest some
members on Facebook, most
at all. money in getting not only their in-
freelance editors in India don’t
house freshers but also new
have training and are also not
freelancers trained and then offer
willing to invest in the same.
them freelance projects and work-from-home projects.
Tell us about your views on this.
Even though the rates that companies get from their
V: The absence of a feedback mechanism makes clients have come down, it does not mean they should
freelancers confident that they are doing a good job stop training. They seem to have stopped looking
when the reality might actually be otherwise. I would beyond what they are currently doing. If they continue
also say that it is a question of priorities. Most editors to train, they will be able to create resources that can be
might be happy doing high-volume–low-pay jobs that marketed for getting different types of work. A blog
involve more of styling/mark-up/formatting than real post by Dr. Venkat summarizes the opportunities that
language editing. They do not want to move up the the industry has lost over the past decades—
value chain because that would involve getting out of opportunities that can be pursued even now, with
the comfort zone (change is always painful), getting formal training in the basics.
trained (remember that even trained editors need
P: What kind of resources have you benefited from
refresher training), and looking for global clients (which
as an editor?
would involve marketing, which most editors are bad
at). V: Usage books, dictionaries, newsletters (Editorial Eye
[now discontinued] and Copyediting [now taken over
P: But who will give freelance editors any
by ACES]), association membership, EFA booklets,
feedback? How do you think ICF can fill this gap?
style manuals, blog articles, meeting fellow editors in
V: They can form small groups, post queries on the ICF’s online and offline meetings, online training,
Facebook group and/or on WhatsApp groups, and interacting with foreign editors online and at
meet other editors online or offline and ask for conferences, and finally having a mentor.
feedback. A few ICF members who took some of the


P: I so agree! EFA booklets are priceless. (as of 27 May 2019) did something individually and
Mentoring is a huge necessity, and I found several, collectively.
offline and primarily online! Which brings me to
P: You have mentioned that by 2020 you would
the training or certification ICF plans to offer.
want ICF to be registered and also be invited to
V: Regular meetings are being held all over India, and officially represent India at the second
online training in copyediting is available. People keep international conference for editors in Canada.
on asking for a minimum recommended rate chart, Please tell us more about the same.
what to charge, and how to charge, but forget that all
V: Some members have been requesting that the
these questions come into the picture only after they
informal ICF Facebook group should change into a
can ensure a basic quality. The drive for quality should
formal, legal entity so as to be able to represent its
actually come from companies, which in turn is
members in a better way. I still feel that we have a long
possible only with formal training. Also, many
way to go because there is so much more we can do
companies arbitrarily define a page as 300 words
even as an informal group just as the ELT Freelancers
whereas the international standard is a firm 250 words.
community has done. But it would be good if we can
Certification is something that takes time to evolve, and
get registered and are invited to officially represent
for the time being we offer free vetting, wherein
India at the second international conference for editors,
members can send in their samples and get feedback on
which will be held in Canada in 2020.
what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong,
and what they are not doing at all. P: Is ICF thinking of holding its own conference?
P: What kind of samples do you accept? Who vets V: We are certainly looking at possibilities of having
them? ICF’s own conference in India in
late 2019. I’ll be the happiest if I
V: Nilima Vyas and Dr. Venkat
can manage to bring the
had offered to do free vetting but
People keep on asking for a international conference for
we are sorry to say that not
minimum recommended rate editors to India in my lifetime.
enough editors have come for-
ward for this initiative, which is chart, what to charge, and P: Last two questions. Have
sad because I also see quite a few how to charge, but forget you had trouble explaining
freelancers saying that they do not your role to those completely
that all these questions
receive feedback on the samples outside the industry?
that they do for different compa- come into the picture only
nies. A company using freelance after they can ensure a basic V: Yes, I have had trouble all my
editors will be short of staff to life explaining what I do! People
quality. The drive for quality seem to assume that I work either
provide detailed feedback to those should actually come from
who do not fit the bill, which is in a newspaper or in a TV channel
where the vetting can help them companies, which in turn is because these are the places where
know their skill gaps and they can possible only with formal they see editors. To make matters
then address those areas of worse, a lot of people seem to
concern. confuse proofreading with
P: In your opinion, why is it that an editor does not
even get any formal recognition? Writers get P: What are the biggest myths about editing and
awards and grants (they have their struggles I editors?
know) but editors (print) don’t have any awards in V: The biggest myth is that anyone can do this job
India. Comments? sitting at home! ◼
V: There is no national body representing copyeditors,
so who will give/get an award! The Publishing Next
conference is doing its bit by starting some awards for Priya Talwar loves to edit books because she
the publishing industry, but we need something finds it easy to edit than write her own! You
exclusively for editors. On 25 February 2018, can reach her at @priyatalwar24 or
Visalakshy, Founder and CEO of Onpaper Publishing
Solutions Pvt. Ltd., held India’s first conference for
editors in Chennai and the speakers were facilitated. I
also got the first award, Editors’ Champion, of my life.
So, basically, we need more ICF members to get
actively involved in bringing about a positive change.
Imagine what would happen if all 1443 ICF members

Abha Thapalyal Gandhi

T he purpose of written work is communication, and

when it is not finalized carefully, confusions and
even idiocies can occur. The harsh reality is that
once a book or article is published, report circulated,
It was fascinating to discover that the two basic types
of tasks that dramaturgs carry out are analogous to the
work of copyeditors and “developmental editors.” One
set of tasks of the dramaturg is connected to the script
brochure distributed, or any written material has left its itself; the focus is on such matters as the progression of
creator, nothing can be done to change it. the story, the effectiveness of the dialogs, as well as
contradictions or repetitions that may have crept in.
Here is an example:
The other set of tasks is wider in range and requires an
Kanhaiya’s statement in a press conference came after understanding of the social, historical, political, or
two of the seven video clips of events at JNU between other background from which a play has originated.
February 9 and 12 were reportedly found to be doctored
by a Hyderabad-based forensic science lab.1 In the performing arts environment, there is much
emotionally charged debate about the outside observer.
The reader can legitimately ask “Who doctored the Some critics believe that the idea promotes the thought
videos, the lab?” that the people im-
mersed in the artistic
S O , WHAT I S THE W ORK OF A process do not have
the intellectual ca-
We find that some
authors are also
C OPYEDITOR ? pacity to assess their
extremely sensitive
own work. As a par-
Speaking in broad strokes, one can say that editorial allel we find that about someone
work is concerned with the following: some authors are changing their work.
◼ Language, ensuring that the rules of grammar and also extremely sensi- However, the
logic are followed; tive about someone
changing their work. majority are very
◼ Substance/the content, including its tone and
However, the major- appreciative of the
◼ Style/the presentation of the content. ity are very apprecia- changes and
tive of the changes suggestions made
A wonderfully picturesque description of what and suggestions
made by editors.
by editors.
copyeditors do was given by a senior journalist and
copyeditor who has been with the New York Times for The point is that the
many years: editor must be nonjudgmental, sympathetic toward the
They untangle twisted prose. They are surgeons, creative process, and ultimately focused on the quality
removing growths of error and irrelevance; they are of the final outcome.
minimalist chefs, straining fat. … The copy editor’s job,
to the extent possible under deadline, is to slow down,
think things through, do the math and ask the irritating T HE L IMITS TO B E R ESPECTED
The venerable Oxford Dictionary tells us that to edit
means to
“T HE O UTSIDE E YE ” prepare (written material) for publication by correcting,
A very useful concept in relation to the work that condensing, or otherwise modifying it.4
editors do is that of the external observer in the world This definition is categorical and precise. However,
of the theater and other performing arts—the there is a caveat and the careful reader will spot it
“dramaturg,” also known as the “the outside eye.” The immediately. The expression “or otherwise modifying”
dramaturg learns from the insiders what the production provides a clear indicator that discretion is a necessary
is about and what its message is supposed to be. He or part of the process. There is scope for creativity when
she then looks on during the rehearsal process to see if editing, and thus significantly improving the original
the tools and methods being used by the director are writing, but there are boundaries that have to be
achieving their intended purpose. respected.


These limits have been clearly identified by Judith leaflet or complex, wordy brochure and one which is
Butcher. Early in the current edition of her famous lively and appealing.”6
book, Butcher’s Copy-editing, is possibly the most
straightforward explanation of the essence of editorial Consistency: Avoiding
Confusion and Sloppiness
Copy-editing is invisible: it aims to present the book the
author would have written if he or she had had more Consistency comes at the top of the list of style issues.
time or experience ─ not as some new copyeditors think, The end product, a book, printed or electronic, a
their own improved version.5 formal statement, a report, a proposal, an ad copy, any
piece of formal writing, should have consistency in
What Copyediting Is Not! matters such as the spelling of proper names and other
words, abbreviations, dates, and references.
◼ It’s not rewriting or “ghost writing”; Consistency is not a minor issue essentially because
◼ It’s not about making the original writing more when it is not adhered to, the text is confusing and
elegant; annoying for readers.
◼ It’s not about changing it just because the
changed version sounds better. For example, if the names of individuals are spelled
differently on different pages, or other words are
At this point, it will be useful to clarify that spelled at times with an “s” and other times with a “z,”
“developmental editing,” also known as “substantive if dates are written in many different ways, if
editing” or “content editing,” is completely different abbreviations are not explained, capitalization occurs in
from copyediting. The developmental editor takes a a haphazard manner, if references are incomplete or
good hard look at the content itself and also the way it done in different ways, confusion and sloppiness are
has been communicated. He or she may well advise the result.
rewriting or a number of other changes, such as
clarification or development of parts or even reworking The Importance of Style
of the entire script, the addition of more information,
or providing more context and background. A sensitive Manuals
copyeditor may of course raise queries about such Publishers of books, magazines, and journals, research
issues, and quite a few do. This kind of alertness can institutions, and other bodies generally develop or
help young editors to raise their skill level. adopt editorial styles. Editors do all concerned a favor
when they study the relevant style manual and follow it

OF C ONTENT The Look of the Page: Inviting

In the context of writing and editing, style is a tool that the Reader in
is used in aid of substance, the content. In the editorial The way a page looks is also something to be conscious
world, the purpose of style is clarity. It has little to do about. Long headings and chapter names were perfectly
with the most common connotations of the word—the acceptable in earlier times. The following chapter titles
fashion of the mo- are from famous published books, one from the 19th
ment, what’s “in,” century and the other from the 16th:
For communication what’s “out,” and so
on. For communi- Remarks on the Routes by Which an Invading Army
to happen Could Approach the Valley of Nipal 7
cation to happen
successfully, words successfully, words Why the Kingdom of Darius, Conquered by Alexander,
need to be effectively need to be effec- Did Not Rebel Against the Successors of Alexander
woven together and tively woven to- at His Death 8
the final matter gether and the final
matter presented in Now editorial style is very concerned with the
presented in a way a way that allows it readability of a page. Chapter names and level
that allows it to reach to reach the relevant headings, sentences, and paragraphs are very significant
the relevant audience. As we all parts of a page and if they are of a disproportionate
learn at some stage, length, they have an adverse effect on it and can also
audience. turn off a potential reader. As a general rule, these key
life is complicated.
So even grammati- parts of a piece of writing should not be either
cally correct writing on its own is not sufficient for excessively long or too short. Clearly, here is an area
creating publishable material. “Acquiring a grounding where discretion must be used by the editor. However,
in grammar is not enough: the finer points of style and it is safe to say that headings containing more than five
presentation will often make all the difference between to six words or those that require several lines to write
a good and a mediocre publication – between a stodgy should be examined carefully and edited. Single-word
headings can also border on the meaningless.

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

Sentences and paragraphs form the essential content of

a piece of writing and have to be dealt with accordingly. html, accessed June 4, 2019.
Their length, however, can become a style matter as 3. Outside Eye/Writer & Editor (blog),
well. If, for example, sentences take up a quarter of the, accessed
page each and paragraphs take up almost full pages, the March 31, 2019; Matthew Spangler, “Dramaturgy in
good editor sits up and takes notice and breaks them Dialogue: Matthew Spangler,” Outside Eye (blog), January
up carefully. One of the biggest clues for deciding what 15, 2016,,
to do if they appear to be disproportionately long and accessed June 7, 2019.
incomprehensible comes from the identity of the target 4.,
audience. I recall feeling really disheartened when I saw accessed April 8, 2019.
a class 8 civics textbook once. In a discussion about the
5. Judith Butcher, Caroline Drake, and Maureen Leach,
institutions of government, every sentence was at least Butcher’s Copyediting: The Cambridge Handbook for
six to eight lines long. There were even some full Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders, 4th Edition (Delhi,
paragraphs that consisted of a single sentence! The India: Cambridge University Press, 2006/First South Asia
hapless student I was trying to help out did not have Edition 2007), 32.
the faintest idea as to what he was supposed to be
6. John Foster, “The Importance of Style,”
The aim of an editor must be to ensure that the chapter accessed June 21, 2019.
names/headings/sentences/paragraphs convey the 7. Henry Ambrose Oldfield, Sketches from Nipal, Vol 1
intended meaning without unnecessary complexity and (London: WH Allen & Co., 1880).
in words appropriate for the target reader.
8. Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, circa 1513.
Make no mistake: the role of a copyeditor is a very
important one. Judging by the number of
contemporary businesses looking to hire copyeditors Abha Thapalyal Gandhi is Publishing
and writers, full-time, it is safe to conclude that as long Director, South Asia Press, an independent
as communication needs to happen, the significance of academic publishing house that deals in the
editors will only continue to grow. ◼ full range of subjects in the humanities and
the social sciences. It is her conviction that
editorial work is the heart of the publishing
N OTES business. Her earlier roles were Director Commissioning,
1. News18-CNN-IBN Live, “Rohith Vemula Is My Icon, Not LexisNexis India and Senior Commissioning Editor (Law),
Afzal Guru, Says JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar,” OUP India.
kumar-1211739.html, accessed June 21, 2019.
2. Lawrence Downes, “In a Changing World of News, an
Elegy for Copy Editors,” Opinion, June 16, 2008,

Yateendra Joshi

opyediting must be the least athletic of
occupations and yet, a line in the book The
Athletic Brain caught my attention because it
said something about how the brain notices
grammatical errors even when the listener or the reader
is not looking out for them. Detecting such errors is an
exercise in pattern matching, something that the human
brain is good at. Tests have confirmed our pattern-
matching abilities even at the subconscious level: in
other words, tests have shown that subjects behave as
though they are aware of a pattern even when they are
unable to articulate it. Every language has its
characteristic patterns, and mastering a language
involves using them correctly.
What has all this to do with copyediting? I argue that if
we are to be good copyeditors, we must be able to spot Reading good books is all the more important to us
grammatical errors and then fix them almost on the because what we read during nearly all our working
fly—and merely studying grammar, whether through hours is English that needs to be copyedited, typically
books or through at- written by L2 writers with expertise in domains other
tending lectures and than English—this places us in a situation similar to
We must read a workshops and so on, that of the Red Queen, who tells Alice that “here we
great deal. More will not give us that must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if
ability. To develop that you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as
specifically, we must ability, to develop a that.” And reading is a time-consuming activity.
read books written sensitive ear, we must Assuming that we can read about 250 words per minute
by good writers read a great deal. More and taking an average nonfiction book to be 60,000
whose first language specifically, we must words long, it will take 4 hours to read it. However, to
read books written by get to the point where we spot grammatical errors
is English: books, good writers whose almost automatically, we need to log in many hundreds
because as products first language is En- of hours (think of the 10,000 hours of practice to be an
they are usually glish: books, because as expert, the number popularized by Malcolm Gladwell
more refined than products they are usu- in his book Outliers).
newspapers and ally more refined than
newspapers and maga- The Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF) offers some
magazines; good zines; good writers be- useful numbers: to attain near-native proficiency,
writers because we cause we would rather according to the ERF website, it takes 370 books and
emulate more compe- 280 hours of systematic reading of progressively
would rather
tent practitioners of the difficult texts. Consider reading as an investment to be
emulate more made over time: in years to come, you will reap the
craft of writing; and L1
competent (which is jargon for dividends. ◼
practitioners of the first language) because
craft of writing. such writing will be Yateendra Joshi has been copyediting
largely error-free with technical and scientific documents for more
respect to two most than 30 years; for more than 15 years, he
common categories of errors made by L2 users, has also been teaching academics and
namely, errors related to prepositions and errors related researchers how to write, publish, and
to articles. present.

Goa, 5 January 2019 preeditors. The copyeditors chimed in with
experiences of editing raw versus preedited texts.
Suggestions were made on how preeditors can
train the copyeditors and/or strive to work
together in teams.
◼ Vivek pointed out existing consistency checkers
and the changes they need in order to maximize
benefit to the copyeditor, and the need to
minimize manual preediting as much as possible.

◼ Typesetters described in detail their process, their
tools, and their challenges while working with
existing tools as well as scope for improvement.
◼ This was followed by a discussion about how
typesetters can take advantage of the new kinds
of services publishers are looking for, and how
We had a casual “nice-to-meet-you” meet. Michelle and typesetters and copyeditors can work together.
I were the only ones who met up (there are only 4 ◼ Challenges faced by typesetters were detailed by
members from Goa in ICF). We both started off with Saleem, with respect to bringing in work and
different careers and have recently entered the managing low rates.
copyediting field.
Freelance Copyediting
We discussed how one of us had too much work and
the other not enough. And how the dependence on one ◼ Gaurav then proceeded to detail his experiences
employer is disadvantageous in both cases. of having worked as an in-house editor with a
team of editors as well as a freelancer, listing the
We lamented the lack of guidance and support for advantages and disadvantages of both.
freelancers from mentors. Guidance and support from ◼ Also compared were experiences working with
mentors would go a long way in improving our editing domestic and international clients, with respect to
skills. rates, working practices, etc.
We discussed Dr. Venkat’s ◼ Vivek talked about why it is ideal that copyeditors
courses and Michelle spoke about her experience with start out in the field by working for a company so
the free vetting process. as to become familiar with the entire process of
editing content, instead of just one aspect of the
Both of us mentioned how editing doesn’t pay enough process.
and how other interests have become side hustles that ◼ This was followed by listing out ways in which
keep us positive and afloat financially. freelancers can bag a variety of projects, primarily,
by becoming a member of editing associations
We hope we have a greater number in the next meet.

Minutes by Tanya Rosebud Fernandes; thanks to Michelle for

her inputs.

NCR, 11 January 2019

This meeting was attended by preeditors, typesetters,
indexers, freelance copyeditors, and a professor. Below
is an overview of what was discussed.

◼ Subrata began by describing what the process of
preediting entails, the ways in which it makes the
copyeditors’ job easy, and the tools used by


such as the SfEP, BELS, EFA, and Editors ◼ publishers

Canada, in addition to regularly refreshing their ◼ professional associations such as the APA
skill set by taking courses. ◼ newspapers and magazines—Economics SG,
New York Times.
In addition, Gopal Sir described in depth his experience 5. Source citations—how citations’ styles vary with
as a professor of English, a writer, and a translator. We journals and style guides.
spoke about how language localization is creating jobs
for translators and toward the end, brainstormed on
Parlez-vous français? Anita Nagarajan
venues for the upcoming workshops in Delhi NCR.
It was fun racking our brains to come up with French
Personally, it was my first meet with the group, and I words frequently used in our daily conversations! Anita
found that there was a lot to be learned from regularly also had a list of French words ready for us and
attending them. I went back with some amazing explained how the meanings of these words originated.
insights and am looking forward to the next meet. Divya joined in with her expertise in the language.
Minutes by Esha Sood.
The “rendezvous” turned out to be an interesting one!
Pune, 12 January 2019 An Editor Writes, A Writer Edits. How?
Discussion Led by Nivedita Kar

Points Discussed
◼ The process of writing;
◼ Editing—a part of the entire process of content
◼ How writers and editors are different from each
◼ Tips to follow while writing and editing;
◼ Can you edit your own work?
This was followed by a discussion on the approaches
adopted by each one of us while writing.
We were introduced to Adobe Experience Manager
(AEM), a web content management system—a topic
that has been set aside for our next meeting.
Speed Networking: Facilitated by Anita
Nagarajan Q&A with Yateendra Joshi on the Proposed
Training Sessions
The idea was to quickly exchange information
regarding developments in our professional lives. We We did a run-through of Yateendra’s topics. The
were short of time, and hence this discussion had to be training session could be covered as:
earmarked for the next meeting.
◼ a 3-day program for all 12 topics;
Happy to have Anita’s colleague Shanti join us! ◼ a 1-day program for 4 topics.

The World of Words: Yateendra Joshi

Once we notify the topics of interest, we could also
merge the training session with our next meeting.
Yateendra introduced us to the books Word by Word
(Kory Stamper) and The Word Detective (John Simpson), Key Takeaways from the Session
followed by a wonderful discussion on dictionaries and
style guides. ◼ Writing is a psychomotor skill that can be
Points Discussed ◼ Read good books extensively to become a better
1. How dictionaries are compiled by lexicographers. ◼ Learn a foreign language!
2. How new words enter the dictionary and how ◼ Editors are all-rounders!
certain words become redundant. Yardsticks say
that the word should be from a published source.
It has to be in use for at least 5 years, should occur
Minutes by Kalyani Laddu-Javadekar.
in multiple sources, and should be meaningful.
3. To use or not to use a word—Words are accepted
on the basis of their usage. Being listed in the
dictionary does not always mean they are correct!
4. Style guides are published by:

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

Mumbai, 23 January 2019 Other Discussions

◼ Lack of interest in reading in children and young
Dictionaries and Style Guides adults, which affects their mastery over a language
This interactive session conducted by Yateendra Joshi (any language) and their ability to communicate
drove home the point that there is no right or wrong well once they join the workforce. There were
when it comes to style. Each institution has its own suggestions and discussions on how to get
preference. The role of the editor is to identify the children excited about reading. There was an
appropriate style guide and to use it consistently. observation that maybe the sustainability of the
Yateendra promised to share the presentation with us, editing profession depends on editors doing their
which included a list of style guides. part to create more readers.
◼ Based on WhatsApp discussions, it appears that
new editors struggle with decision making when
it comes to new assignments. There are questions
on rates at which to take on work, sample edits,
and lack of clarity on other terms. It was decided
that a basic checklist could be created to arm new
editors with information they can use to make
their decisions on new work.

To-Do List
◼ Michelle Pereira will create the checklist for new
editors (mentioned above) by circulating a draft
and asking for inputs from other members on
◼ All Mumbai members should regularly spread the
word on ICF, for those interested to select their
My Experience with the Vetting Process preferences for Yateendra Joshi’s workshops and
send them to Vivek Kumar as soon as possible.
Michelle Pereira shared her experience with the vetting
process in terms of the process itself, the mathematical
rating used for evaluation, and the advantages,
particularly for new editors and freelancers, of getting
yourself vetted. She ended by asking all present to
spread the word and encourage editors to get
themselves vetted. (As an aside, Vivek Kumar has
recommended a blog on this.)

Q&A with Yateendra Joshi on the Proposed

Training Sessions
Data shared by Vivek Kumar showed that five
members from Mumbai had responded with their Minutes by Michelle Pereira.
preferences, which were shared with Yateendra Joshi,
who will conduct the sessions. The most popular one Bangalore, 3 March 2019
so far is “Avoiding Common Errors in written
English.” One observation in the discussion that Happy to share here the minutes of the Bangalore
followed was that frequent areas of error in meet.
manuscripts are articles, prepositions, and subject-verb On a personal note, I really enjoyed this meet. I was
agreement issues. quite worn-out after a month of intense activity on
personal and professional fronts. And this meet came
Planning the Next Mumbai Meeting as a welcome break. I am not able to exactly say why I
It was proposed that we have regular meetings quarterly felt so revived after this meet. It feels so cool to meet
and that the next meeting should be held in April 2019. the ones of our kind and share our ups and downs.
One definite item on the agenda will be a workshop. Just wanted to say this to ICF members:
We will use the available time before the next meeting Don’t ever miss these meets. These would be turning
to spread more awareness of the workshop topics points in your career lives.
among Mumbai members so that there is greater
Thanks so much to Vivek for creating such


Key Points
◼ Venkatesh discussed his plans about moving onto
L3 editing, which he felt would be more engaging
for him than line editing. He also shared his
experiences about freelancing for various
◼ Vihang, who has recently cleared the BELS
examination, shared his experiences on the same
and how he plans to leverage this to rope in new
clients. He also shared his experiences as a
freelancer: what volume of work he does, the level
of editing involved, how he gets paid, etc.
◼ Chitraleka threw light on these areas: working
directly as an editor for journals; new markets
opening up for conversion of technical text into opportunity! We sought his guidance on several topics
layman’s language. such as the importance of style editing. He emphasized
◼ Lavanya discussed about challenges in setting up the need for references’ style for better acceptance in
international journals. On a discussion on plagiarism,
he gave tips on how to rephrase to overcome the issue.
We also touched upon payment issues from individual
authors and how an MS can be locked for sharing. We
spoke about time management and were collectively
amazed at Vivek Kumar’s response time on FB. This is
just an excited recounting of this evening. Will share
more later.

It was coffee table talk with a lot of useful tips, leads,

and insights from Yateendra. Catching up with the
fraternity definitely boosts our confidence levels.
Minutes by Deepali Joshi.

Mumbai, 20 March 2019

an in-house team in Mysore. She also mentioned
that the Karnataka government is ready to set up
courses in copyediting for students. She is looking
for trainers who can help her in such a venture.
◼ Archana, who is a writer and editor of trade
books, shared her freelance experiences at various
companies, how she gets paid, etc.
◼ Anupama shared her experiences about working
as a Technical Writer. She also expressed interest
in exploring other areas.
◼ Elizabeth shared her experiences as a journalist,
and expressed interest in exploring other
opportunities in the editing industry.
◼ Visalakshy shared her experiences on how she
built her team and gave an intro on Alt-Text to
interested members.
Key Points
Minutes by Visalakshy Loganathan.
◼ Issues faced by freelancers and editing
professionals: Often, we need to explain the
Bangalore, 10 March 2019 different levels of editing and the value of each
It was indeed a very fruitful evening. We had a stage to clients. Moreover, it becomes difficult to
freewheeling discussion on preparing for the BELS justify our charges as some domestic clients
certification. Yateendra told us it is a test of copyediting expect a lot of work to be done at reduced rates.
rather that life sciences and what encompasses ◼ Importance of collaboration: We spoke about
Diplomate. We realized that we were in the company the importance of collaboration and how we
of “1 in a million” . . . making him a very rare could help each other by building a community of
personality. Indeed, we are thankful for this freelancers and editing professionals.

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

◼ Code of conduct for WhatsApp groups: The Mumbai, 28 April 2019

three of us felt that we should avoid badmouthing
clients on WhatsApp groups. If we want to check
the validity of a particular client, we should
privately message someone who has worked with
that client instead of posting such messages in the
◼ Formalizing ICF: We also felt that it was time
to take some burden off Vivek’s shoulders and
build a core team with representatives from each
chapter of ICF. These representatives would be
responsible for coordinating monthly or quarterly
meetings and organizing professional
development workshops for our members.
◼ Networking and agenda for meetings: During Here are the minutes of the meeting held on 28 April
the meeting, we spoke about the importance of 2019. We had 11 attendees and 2 speakers. Of the
face-to-face networking and a preplanned agenda attendees, 8 were attending their first meeting.
for the meetings so that members would be
prepared and would attend the meetings on a Townhall with Editors: Q&A with Nilima Vyas
regular basis. This moved quickly from a pure Q&A session to a
Minutes by Vidya Ravi. discussion with questions, answers, thoughts, and
experiences being shared by all. Here is a list of the
Mysore, 27 March 2019 topics discussed:
◼ Demand for editors: There is a demand for
editors, but the supply of editors of quality is
limited. The demand for freelance editors may
not always be cyclic or seasonal. Some companies
need freelance resources all the year round, but
the quality of freelance editors is not up to the
standards required for the work they are being
hired to do.
◼ Training and career paths for beginners:
There are hardly any institutes in India that have
courses in editing (there were some comments
that there are no institutes). Besides the initial
training, a new editor must be mentored and
supervised. It is only with training and mentoring
over 2 to 3 years that you get an editor of quality.
◼ While in-house editors receive training in core
It was an honor to have Mr. Yateendra Joshi as chief skills and soft skills as well as regular updates and
guest who provided various inputs related to the editing training related to technology, freelance editors
field. He shared his vast experiences with regard to lose out. Training with international institutes is
editing. expensive for a freelancer to undertake.
◼ Some freelance editors are caught in a cycle of
Key Points
being paid so inadequately that they are unable to
◼ One can undergo BELS exam to get certified in
finance their training. At the same time, without
the field of life sciences editing.
the training, they cannot improve to meet the
◼ Many other such exams (e.g., IELTS) can be industry standards of quality.
undertaken. These will test your proficiency in the
◼ Lack of awareness of editing as a career: Some
English language. There are certain levels of the
of us at the meeting lamented that it was difficult
exam, which prove your efficiency.
for us to explain what editors do, even to family
◼ As a vendor, it is always better to work directly and friends! There is very little general awareness
with authors when concerned with rates and of editing as a career option though college
payments. As a matter of fact, a wide gap can be
campus visits are being undertaken. However, the
filled between authors and editors.
slow growth path does not help to attract
◼ Another important point is to make use of tools students.
such as PerfectIt, which will help editors identify ◼ English language basics in schools: Although
mechanical inconsistencies, such as different
English language skills play a large part in every
heading styles, inconsistent spellings, and
profession, the attention given to it in schools is
undefined abbreviations. cursory. Essay writing is minimal, and reading is
Minutes by Lavanya C.V. not encouraged or nurtured.


◼ Some solutions mentioned to the issues We were meeting after a fair bit of time (almost 2 years),
mentioned above were a co-branded workshop and I was apprehensive about the number of people
and regular online interventions through trainings who will turn up. I was late (as I was stuck in a traffic
and presentations. jam in Haridwar) by 15 minutes, but the main speaker
(Yateendra Joshi) was delayed by around 45 minutes as
Building Your Brand: A Presentation by he too got caught up in traffic at two places along the
Michelle Pereira way from Roorkee.
When I entered the hall, I was happy to see a full hall
(16 editors). They were all (except a couple) in-house
editors from Aptara, MPS, and Sage. There were a fair
bit of females too this time. One had in fact even
brought her young daughter who had passed out from
school a few months back.
I told them about ICF as most of them were in fact not
ICF members. We discussed a lot of other things, and
then we had the workshop “Common Errors in
English” by Yateendra Joshi. A lot of questions were
asked during and after the workshop. After everyone
had tea and snacks, we again sat down to have an
This session focused on how understanding and
informal discussion in which Yateendra Joshi
developing your personal brand could add value to your
work. It began with a discussion on the five factors that
go into creating a personal brand. It then progressed to
how you could apply those five factors to yourself and
come up with your own vision for your personal brand.
Finally, it covered the steps to be taken to build your
brand over time with a practical to-do list.

Avoiding Common Errors in Written English :

A Workshop by Yateendra Joshi
This workshop took us through various categories of
errors made when writing. We were shown a lot of real- mentioned how they can use CE-L, Chicago Manual of
life examples. The workshop recommended a list of Style Q&A, audio books, and fiction books to enhance
books to help us improve and ended with a discussion their knowledge. He also mentioned the IELTS exams
on common errors that we, the participants, usually as an option to test one’s knowledge of English. He
struggle with. also said that freelancers can explore the authors’
market. He also shared how an Indian editor who had
Lucky Draw a BELS certification managed to bag an international
The winner of the Lucky Draw was Bijal Barot Mehta contract and how Indian freelancers can use the time
who won the book A Sense of Style by Steven Pinker. To zone difference to their advantage.
quote Yateendra Joshi, “Steven Pinker is a cognitive The participants expressed their happiness and said
psychologist who has specialized in the study of that it was the first time that such a session had been
language. He is the author of a number of books organized in Dehra Dun and that they would like to
including The Language Instinct, Words and Rules, and The attend more such sessions. We told them that they need
Stuff of Thought. Being a published writer and a cognitive to provide us more inputs on what they want to learn.
scientist, his book on writing and style carries extra
credibility.” This certainly was a meeting with a difference.

Minutes by Michelle Pereira.

Dehra Dun, 1 June 2019

June has started on a promising note, with two events
(one offline [in Dehra Dun] and one online [for
freelancers]) being held on successive days.
The ICF meeting-cum-workshop held in Dehra Dun
on 1 June was different in many ways from the previous
two meetings held in 2017 (both of which were
attended by 5-6 male editors and a lone female editor
[who attended only the first meeting]). The last meeting
was held on 17 September 2017.

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

The online event held the next day by members from all over India, and we are sure that this was attended by younger initiative will bring about a much-needed qualitative
members. The session was facilitated by Venkataraman change in how training is perceived by editors. This will
Anantharaman (Dr. Venkat). This was held in response certainly make a big difference.
to a post by Dr. Venkat in which he had asked younger
members whether they would be interested in learning Minutes by Vivek Kumar. ◼
academic editing. The online session was attended by


We have had some great venue partners for our ICF meetings.

❖ Bushra Rashid has been hosting ICF meetings in her husband’s

office in Noida.
❖ Manish Keswani has been offering his Paper True office for ICF
meetings in Pune.
❖ Abhishek Goel has offered to host ICF meetings at the Cactus office
in Andheri East, and our 28 April meeting was held there.
o ICF Mumbai’s next meeting will also be held at Cactus’s office
on 31 August.

We are looking for more venue partners in other cities in general and
for Delhi NCR in particular. Please mail us at for
taking this forward.


25 February 2018, Chennai something that always made me remember that only
Pondicherry is known for that craft and somehow, I
ICF member Visalakshy Loganathan successfully connected it to Auroville and the exotic Pondicherry. It
organized India’s first conference for editors at was so nice. It stayed on top of the refrigerator in my
Chennai on 25 February 2018. The following blog post home for long. But when I again met her in Pondy
(originally posted by K. Venkatesh on his website and perhaps a couple of years ago in the ICF meet, she had
reproduced here unedited) brings back nostalgic forgotten all about it. In fact, I had referred her to a
memories, as it seems to have captured the spirit of the customer with whom she had struck a great
2018 Editors’ Conclave at Chennai. relationship. I am really happy about it.

Editors’ Conclave in Chennai, India: Let’s Visa spoke passionately about everything concerned
Have More of Them with copyediting—training editors, bringing them
together, seeking new opportunities, challenges in
I was one of the skeptics of the Indian Copyeditors scaling the business. I used to be amazed at her
Forum (ICF) when it began on June 28, 2015. Vivek business skills and thinking of copyediting as a
Kumar, with whom I have had a brief conversation business. For me, copyediting is a passion and
eons ago and had conveniently forgotten all about it, humanities books are enough for a lifetime. Now I
had conceived an idea of bringing together Indian want to go into unexplored territories thanks to the
copyeditors under a Facebook group to converse, Editors’ Conclave.
discuss, have debates, and
learn from peers.

Chitralekha Manohar, the

new-age copyeditor and
business owner now, fa-
cilitated the first-ever ICF
meeting in Chennai less
than 2 years ago on April
16, 2016. I had known
Chitra earlier and had met
her at the publishing con-
ference, PubNext, in Goa.
Her mentor, Vinutha
Mallya, is my friend as
well. In a gathering of just
four or five editors that
lasted over a couple of
hours at a quiet corner in a Cafe Coffee Day outlet in Visa had called me to discuss the idea of a conference
Chennai, I discovered and learned new stuff—tools for somewhere in November or December 2017 and
editing. Ashwin Krishnan became a friend from there. started to make plans for it. She told me that Apex
Covantage, in which I have good friends like Siva,
We, the editors from Chennai and Pondy, met a couple Ezhil, and Sathya Dalton, is willing to financially back
of times again, but the networking was unmatched to it. We discussed the format and there was silence
my earlier experiences and I made new friends. afterward. I was thinking she would have postponed it
Murugaraj and Arun are the two who still continue to and may announce it sooner or later. Perhaps a month
be friends from the meet at Pondicherry. A vibrant ago, the frenzy began and she asked me for some leads
community has formed thanks to that one step that and ideas. And then nothing. Maybe a week ago, she
Vivek has taken. Thank you, Vivek, for infusing life was raring to go. She had completed the work quietly
into my editing career as a freelancer. I think many behind, having enlisted speakers and finalizing the
editors would share the same sentiment about ICF. venue. She had stuck to her guns and kept her promise
of holding it in February much against Vivek’s advice,
Visalakshy Loganathan, whom we call Visa for short, who wanted it to be held in June when editor mothers
had ventured into copyediting on her own a few years will be free from exam hassles of their children and
back. One of my dear colleagues at work, Namami more wannabe editors will join the conference. I have
Ghosh, had once asked me to help Visa out. I had gone always found her to be very good at executing and at
to her office and had met her briefly at Pondicherry. thinking big.
She was warm, nice, and very pleasant. She gave me a Visit to know
nice artificial bouquet as a gift. I think it was a very more about the conference. I am hoping it will be
fancy bouquet made of some wooden stuff or updated with pictures and videos soon.

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

When I stepped into the conference on Sunday go for certification was succinctly explained by him step
morning, I was really awestruck. Visa has gone a step by step. It was one of the best presentations of the day.
further than Vivek. She had physically brought editors
from all over the country together under one roof in a I have only heard about Dr. Venkat. He gave an in-
charged atmosphere. She always reminds me of the depth presentation on how to sift a manuscript into
cricket umpire Steve Bucknor. He was called the silent components to look for where the slip happens. He
killer. Stephen Brenkley wrote on Bucknor: gave an insight into the stages of an editor’s life. He
harbors ambitions of training an army of copyeditors
To be given out by Steve Bucknor is death by torture. and wants to improve the copyediting quality of the
First the appeal, loud, prolonged, imploring. And then country as a whole. For that, he has started an elaborate
nothing. Only a tense stillness. Time is suspended. website (The Art of Copyediting), which has 22 courses
Packed stadiums freeze. The bowler grimaces in hope, [now 25] offered online.
the batsman tries not to look.
Bucknor’s brain computes. Where did the ball pitch, I was always looking forward to meeting Surit Das. If
how much did it move? Or could it have taken the edge? someone really represented the Bengali intellect to me,
Was there a noise? Or a deviation? You can hear the cogs it is Surit. He was funny and held the audience in splits
turn. He betrays no emotion. And then the slow nod. when he showed a slide simply named “Pubic Woks
Usually, it is just one movement. Slowly comes the final Deportment.” I am sure a Bengali wrote it. When he
blow, the raising, almost reluctantly, of the index finger got into copyediting, his first copy almost drove him
as if to say: “This is hurting me far more than it’s hurting out of the profession. He explained how an editor’s life
you. But sadly I have no choice.”
goes, with a great sense of humor. There were many
If you have ever seen Visa, she is quiet, talks almost in useful tips. But Surit didn’t let out the secrets of saving
whispers, and gives the impression of easily getting money. He went on saying how much investment was
scared. But she is a storm if you would have known her needed.
a bit more. She silently accomplishes and executes. She
is not the silent killer variety, but a methodical go-getter Arpana Shandilya, after a lunch that is sure to drive us
and very decisive like Steve Bucknor. to drowsiness, gave a presentation on social media for
copyeditors. I missed a part of it, but she gave some
Manish had already rolled out an infectiously useful information when I joined the talk a few minutes
enthusiastic video preconference. The cofounder of later.
PaperTrue revealed in his keynote how he accidentally
stumbled upon a business opportunity in editing and Then came Bushra Rashid, a very polished and hep
proofreading. His keynote pushed editors to aim for copyeditor. Bushra and I were colleagues in two
the sky. He was funny, encouraging, and very delightful organizations. She is as nice and as warm as she has
in conveying his message. always been. She gave a forceful presentation on why
you should become a member of various editor
Then came Yateendra Joshi, whom I was seeing for the associations [see “Editorial Freelancers Association
first time. He reminded me of a headmaster about Membership Benefits” toward the end of the
whom I had read in a book. When that headmaster newsletter] and the benefits you get out of it. It was the
wanted to retire, none of the students were willing to most useful presentation of the day for me.
let him go. A very methodical editor that Yateendra is,
Nilima Vyas would have made a great teacher if she
it came through in his presentation. How should you
took up that profession. In the Alt-Text presentation
she gave, I almost went back to
a classroom in my university.
She was clear and succinct, and
illustrated the concept very well.
I really enjoyed her presentation,
which was without a hiccup and
very free flowing. If you ever get
a chance, watch that video and
you’ll know what I am talking
My colleague at a previous
organization, Selvin, came up to
give a keynote after Nilima. I
didn’t recognize him as he is
now sporting spectacles. Selvin’s
hair has grayed a bit, but his
manner has not dimmed in the
last nine years we haven’t met. I
didn’t know he knew so much


philosophy. He gave a clarion call to all the editors to services market to come together and raise our stocks.
unite against the practice of undercutting prices. Many We need to continue this journey.
editors fondly remember his training at Integra where
he was the chief. One final thought about a discussion that happened.
Will automation eliminate copyeditors, or will artificial
The sweet Chitralekha, whom I have always admired intelligence change the way we work? I think the future
for her approach to copyediting, told the stunned is getting invented now. I learned on-screen
audience how she gradually built a business out of copyediting 20 years ago. And it has bettered editing in
copyediting. Many were gaping at her presentation, many ways. I am sure artificial intelligence will disrupt
wondering how they missed doing what she was doing. to the extent whatever is mechanical will go to the
Many best wishes to her to go further. She was machines. But till the Chinese and Japanese learn to
perceptible enough not to fall into the trap of fast write good English and as long as the nonnative world
editing and competitive pricing (competitive is a keeps writing more English, we are in demand. Let me
euphemism here). She went for niche work and she is say more power to the East European authors as well.
now building her business gradually. This is not to demean them, but because they are not
native speakers lacking knowledge about the intricacies
Then I, Eashwar, Ujwala, and Lakshmi had a panel
discussion on in-house and freelance copyeditors. and nuances of English, we are there to help them.
Eashwar and I had met almost a decade ago when I had They will hopefully keep us in business.
started out as a freelancer. He told the story of his
My take is that the demographics are shifting. We are
starting up, Ujwala was interested in knowing how the
likely to have more nonnative speakers writing
freelancers “manage” their work, and Lakshmi gave an
academic content. There will not be enough native
overview of how she chooses freelance editors for
speakers to handle the volume of content, although
work. After Ujwala revealed how things go awry when
they are now preferred. We need to equip ourselves to
editors miss deadlines, I feel we have to turn a lot
take this opportunity and make the most out of it. We
professional in our ways. One common concern was
need to become better editors and better professionals.
lack of talent although enough work is available. I think
We need to think global. And the demand for
that is another issue we need to address.
copyediting will exist. The Western population is
There are capable Indian copyeditors, but as Bushra getting older and our population is getting younger.
The demographics favor us as of now. As Nandan
lamented, we are not visible outside. We need to get out
Nilekani said, we need to tap into this advantage by
there and tell the world. I think after the publishing
bringing more editors into the business. Those who
markets in the West, we have made a beginning as a
don’t read Chetan Bhagat. ◼

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

Would you like to attend face-to-face workshops conducted by Yateendra Joshi on one or more of the
following topics? You can choose any four topics for a 1-day program. Send Vivek an e-mail at and he will get back to you.
Choose from the following topics:
◼ How long should I wait after submission to
1. Searching the Internet More enquire about the paper’s fate?
The Internet has brought to our doorstep oceans of 3. Reporting Numbers and
information that only a decade ago was not available Quantities in Text
even in well-stocked libraries. But, as consumers, we
need to know how to navigate these waters and tap the Counting and measuring set science apart from other
treasures hidden in deeper recesses of the Internet. pursuits. Yet, techniques of communicating
quantitative information are often ignored in programs
The session on searching offers tips on getting the best on writing skills. Although 2017 marks 60 years of
out of both the Internet and printed information metrication in India, the precise conventions of the SI
sources by answering these and similar questions. system (Système International d’Unités) are often
violated by writers of research papers.
◼ How do I make my Internet searches more
efficient? The session on numbers offers answers to these and
◼ Is there life beyond Google? similar questions.
◼ What should we look for in judging a website’s
◼ How should multidigit numbers be printed
(123,000 or 123 000 or 1,23,000)?
◼ Which is the recommended symbol for the liter,
L or l?
◼ When should data be rounded off drastically and
when not at all?

4. Organizing Quantitative Data

into Tables
Generating first-hand data from your own experiments
is the heart of research. These numbers, produced so
painstakingly, must be presented effectively so that
readers can understand the implications of those
The session on numbers discusses the details of style
2. Publishing Research Papers in and format that govern numbers when they form part
of narrative text, whereas this session on tables answers
High-Impact-Factor Journals these and similar questions.
Research papers published in peer-reviewed journals
remain the single most often used criterion to evaluate ◼ How can I make tables more compact?
scientists. ◼ What is the correct alignment for numbers in a
These days, this is often supplemented with citation ◼ How do I indicate missing data?
counts and impact factors. Publishing papers can be a
game of snakes and ladders, but a well-prepared
manuscript submitted to an appropriately chosen
journal will find more ladders and fewer snakes in its
The session seeks to explain the detailed instructions
journals expect their authors to follow and shows how
to win the game by answering these and similar
◼ How do I select the right journal for my paper?
◼ What are the most common reasons for a paper
being rejected without a review?


5. Handling Illustrations presentations an expensive affair—and only effective

presentations can truly justify the costs.
A botanist may count the number of petals in a flower
and measure their length, but such details are no match The session on presentations offers proven techniques
for a good photograph of the flower in communicating to get technical information across to a live audience,
what it looks like. No directions based on words alone and answers these and similar questions.
will match a map as a way-finding tool. Then there are
charts and graphs, and they have a language of their ◼ Is there a formula to calculate the right font size?
own. ◼ How do I know whether I am speaking too fast
or too slowly?
The session on charts, graphs, and other illustrations ◼ How long should I hold each slide of text for the
addresses these and similar questions. audience to read it?
◼ How do I choose an appropriate chart type (line,
bar, pie, etc.)?
◼ Why does a photo look fine on a web page but
blurry when printed?
◼ What patterns work best for charts to be printed
in black-and-white and photocopied?

8. Designing User-Friendly
Technical Documents
Although word-processing software and laser printers
offer ample opportunities to play with document
design, getting the design right calls for informed
choices. Well-designed documents get their readers to
start reading and keep reading: poorly designed ones
can deter potential readers from even attempting to
read. Effective design brings out the underlying
6. Handling Citations and structure of a document, highlights the more important
parts, and helps readers to find information quickly.
The session on document design seeks to turn writers
Most researchers detest the chore of formatting
into designers by addressing these and similar
references: the task is tedious and seems such a waste
of a researcher’s time. Besides, many researchers see no
difference in their version and the model seen in a ◼ What info should headers and footers provide?
recent issue of their target journal. ◼ What are the pros and cons of using italic and
The session on citations and references will show you bold fonts?
how to manage this task more efficiently and answers ◼ Is there a limit to the levels in numbered headings
these and similar questions. (1, 1.1, 1.1.1, and so on)?

◼ When do I use et al. in citations?

◼ What is the difference between references and a
9. Avoiding Common Errors in
bibliography? Written English
◼ How do I cite web pages and other electronic Sloppy spelling, shaky grammar, and erratic
documents? punctuation often make readers assume that your
research too is substandard—an assumption hard to
7. Delivering Effective justify but equally hard to avoid.
Presentations The session on avoiding common errors tackles these
From defending a doctoral thesis to presenting a and similar questions.
project proposal, today’s research increasingly depends
◼ How to make spell-checkers work for you?
on presentations at meetings and conferences as a
means of communication. The costs of travel, ◼ What are the tell-tale marks of Indian English?
accommodation and food, and venue make the ◼ Which are the most frequent errors in using the

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

10. Becoming a More Over the years, many useful features have been added
to the package. Yet, most researchers are simply
Competent Writer unaware of those features that can save a great deal of
Scientists are required to write not only research papers time and are easy to use.
but also project proposals and reports, and even articles
for magazines. Good writing is not merely error-free The session answers these and similar questions.
writing but effective writing—writing that gets you the ◼ How can I quickly generate a list of all
results that you want. Yet, writing is not often taught as abbreviations used in a document?
a skill that can be acquired with practice. ◼ How can I add some commonly used technical
The session presents a systematic approach to words to the spell-checker?
becoming a more effective writer and answers these ◼ How do I change the default paper size to A4
and similar questions. from US Letter?

◼ What are the characteristics of effective prose?

◼ How long will it take me to be a better writer?
◼ What strategies do good writers use to explain
hard-to-follow concepts?

About the Trainer

Yateendra Joshi has been editing technical documents
for nearly 30 years, a career change he made after
working for a decade as a scientist with the Indian
Council of Agricultural Research (1978–1988).
11. Writing Effective Emails, Fax He was with TERI (The Energy and Resources
Messages, and Letters Institute) in New Delhi for 15 years, moved to Pune to
work with WISE (World Institute of Sustainable
Although researchers read and write papers, listen to Energy) in 2005, and has been on his own since 2007,
and deliver presentations, and visit laboratories and dividing his time between freelance copyediting and
field sites, these activities are facilitated through emails, teaching.
faxes, and letters.
He has copyedited more than 400 papers in the past
In this session, you will find answers to these and
few years for an international agency.
similar questions.
He is an accredited editor with Diplomate status
◼ How can I prevent junk characters from
certified by the Board of Editors in Life Sciences, USA.
appearing in my emails?
Diplomate status is awarded only to those who
◼ Which font works best for faxes?
demonstrate exceptional editorial proficiency
◼ Will “Dear Sir” do when I am not sure whether I (currently, only 30 editors worldwide have the
am writing to a man or a woman? diplomate status, and Yateendra is the only one in
India). ◼
12. Using Microsoft Word More
Microsoft Word continues to be the most commonly
used word-processing application.

Imagine the following:
◼ Access to course videos for self-paced study from
the convenience of your homes;
◼ Replay videos any number of times;
◼ A facility to nevertheless interact with course
participants and the course instructor via course
comments on every course module;
◼ World-class training at affordable prices, which
can also be paid as part-payments (imagine a 27%
reduction from current pricing and also part-
payments for that reduced pricing);
◼ The courses can be taken up by anyone—
students, freelancers, and full-time employees.
Does it sound too good to be true?
I’m happy that God has helped me to serve you better
In January 2018 I founded The Art of Copyediting with by making this a reality! At the bottom of this piece is
the sole aim of providing editorial training for the a link that will give you all the details you may want and
publishing industry. The only things I knew well were also help you to choose your options for the first course
the subject itself and the art of teaching/training. that I’m offering in this format.
Being new to social media, I felt it might be safest to You guessed it right: I’m offering the most popular
start off with live webinars, as I simply had to use a course, Basic Course on Writing/Editing (rechristened
platform such as Zoom to see, connect, and talk with Essentials of Written English) as the first course in this
my audience. new format.
My interactions with people over the months gave me The second course is on Article Use in the English
indications of some clear patterns: language. And slowly, over months, all the 25 courses
offered by The Art of
◼ People want to grow in their careers and are
Copyediting will be put
willing to put in effort, but time is always an issue,
up one by one. Assessments,
more so because of the unpredictable demands of
modern life. Assessments, assign- assignments, and
◼ And when we have a webinar, the timing is fixed; ments, and certifica- certifications will all
what suits one doesn’t suit another; and even tions will all come in
when people opt in, some are not able to attend come in gradually,
gradually, over time.
on some days because of some urgency and want The simple truth is that over time. The
to know if they can access these sessions as a all these won’t mean simple truth is that
recording. anything if a person all these won’t
◼ And even if all these complexities are somehow has not had formal mean anything if a
factored in, a live webinar is still a pricey affair training and developed
because it implies the presence of the a certain skill set. I’ll
person has not had
instructor/expert all through the sessions. write more of this later. formal training and
◼ And the more detailed the training—I’m a firm developed a certain
believer of this—the longer the sessions, and the To sum up, all limiting
factors have been
skill set. I’ll write
costlier the course becomes for an average Indian
writer/editor. I’ve been thinking of all these removed, and every- more of this later.
repeatedly and have finally found a way to address one—students, free-
ALL your concerns—yes, I repeat: I have taken lancers, and full-time
an approach that will address ALL YOUR employees—can get
NEEDS. trained, perform well, and grow in their careers!

iEdit Issue 1, July 2019

first step! Also, do share this post with every social

media group you are a member of so that this post
reaches every nook and corner of India.
Just remember that this is, as before, only for resident
Indians. So, share it only within Indian groups. There
is a possibility that we may have a dot-in website for
Indians alone and the current dot-com website will
serve the rest of the world.
The link for the course on writing/editing is here:
With all limitations removed, I expect most of you to available. ◼
take this training and surge ahead to become specialists
in your own fields. Have a look at the link and take the

Online Zoom Session on Editing Certifications, Training, and Editing
Association Memberships

Here is the link for the recording of the online Zoom session on
editing certifications, training, and editing association memberships.
Listen to the views of Bushra Rashid, Yateendra Joshi, and
Venkataraman Anantharaman on these topics.

I f you want to become a professional editor, then you 10. EFA Logo: You can use it in your email signature
need to be serious about continuous professional line.
development and consider taking on the 11. EFA Facebook group: Join and get connected
membership of an editing association. with other EFA members.
12. EFA LinkedIn group: Join and find out who the
Whether you are just starting out, are coming back to other EFA members are.
editing after a long break, or are transitioning from 13. EFA Twitter chats: Another way to get advice.
another career, membership of an editing association 14. EFA webinars: Still another way to learn.
(the Editorial Freelancers Association [USA], the 15. EFA booths: Be a volunteer at EFA booths at
Society for Editors and Proofreaders [UK], Editors other associations’ conferences.
Canada [Canada], the Institute of Professional Editors 16. Group benefits: EFA offers group medical
[Australia], the Council for Science Editors [USA], the insurance, car rental benefit, and so forth in the
Board of Editors in Life Sciences [USA], the American United States to its members.
Copy Editors Society [ACES], etc.) will provide you all 17. EFA publications: EFA brings out a lot of
the support and resources you need. informative booklets on issues of importance to a
If five or more members from a particular city start a freelancer. EFA members of a chapter get access
chapter of an association, for example, Editorial Free- to these booklets.
lancers Association, then the 18. Trainer for EFA courses: EFA is always looking
benefits multiply. India for good trainers for its
(NCR Delhi) was the first courses.
country to have a chapter of 19. Networking hub:
Editorial Freelancers Asso- Provides a great networking
ciation outside the United community.
States. Perhaps, it is time to 20. EFA booklets
revive the chapter. Any tak- writer: EFA offers you a
ers considering all the bene- chance to write small
fits listed below? booklets on topics of interest to freelancers. You
are free to suggest a topic of your choice.
1. Job Board (clients’ requirements straight in your 21. Annual conferences: EFA annual conferences are
inbox). a great way to mingle with like-minded folks and
2. Members Directory (helps people from your area get some hands-on practical training as well. The
contact you directly). third annual conference was held in 2016 in New
3. Newsletter (great articles): Guest members get York.
access to the newsletter. 22. EFA Website: The EFA website is a great
4. Discounts on EFA courses. resource in itself.
5. Discounts on attending conferences of other 23. Rates: You get information about rates from the
associations. EFA website and from the rates mentioned by
6. Opportunity to write articles for EFA newsletter clients on the EFA Job Board.
The Freelancer. You retain the copyright and can 24. Skill sets: The EFA Job board provides an insight
print your article elsewhere also by providing a into what skills are in demand in the market so
credit line mentioning that the article was first that you can upgrade your skill set.
published in EFA newsletter. 25. Points when applying for SfEP membership: You
7. Access to EFA newsletter archives. get points toward fulfilling SfEP membership
8. Opportunity to volunteer for various tasks (you requirements if you are a member of an editing
can volunteer to bring out the newsletter, etc.). association.
9. EFA Email group (post your doubts, queries, 26. Possibilities of putting up the EFA booth at book
suggestions, and so on): You might even get a fairs, literature festivals, writers’ events, and
client through the email list if an EFA member colleges/schools/universities to bring writers
decides to use another freelancer in case of more (clients) and editors face to face. ◼
work than he or she can handle or in case there is
a medical emergency.

Geethanjali Tanikella

1 2 3 4

7 8 9



12 13


1. Clipped from elsewhere, not part of running text, usually with a left indent
3. __-ed, is that from a newspaper?
4. Commonly found in Spanish or Portuguese, more or less
6. Simple declarative sentence with one verb
8. Is that the second footnote?
9. Make them lean
10. Position, w.r.t. margins
13 down, 14 across The stroke that separates the equals

2. I missed the point above, in code
5. Points to part of the document
6. The boss ordered to remove it
7. The version boundary, colored
11. I slogged like a slave for the first proof
12. Killer comma debate

For solutions, please visit ICF website at

Geethanjali Tanikella is the VP Corporate Communication at Mapmygenome, where her core domains of focus include
media relations, content development, and publishing. She has 15+ years of experience in various domains such as
STM publishing, journalism, technical communication, and corporate communication. She has worked as a technical
writer, content developer, and copyeditor. She has a master’s degree in Chemical Sciences from Pondicherry University,
Diploma in Web Content Development from ContentEd New Zealand, and Diploma in Media & Advertising
Management from WE School.