To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, I want to highlight three female authors and copyeditors who are influential to the work that I do as a proofreader, copyeditor, documentation specialist, and writer.
When I got my first professional copyediting job with Opera Software, I was elated. Then, I was curious: what should I know exactly about being a copyeditor? I know how to edit, and how to write, but what does a copyeditor actually do?
In came the late Amy Einsohn’s The Copyeditor’s Handbook. This book was and still is my go-to source for understanding the basics and the nuances of the trade. While titles with “handbook” may suggest that the contents within the book are rigid and dry, this cannot be said about Einsohn’s book. Einsohn injected charm into her comprehensive field guide for editing corporate communications, book publishing, and everything in between. It is a fantastic book for beginner, experienced, or expert copyeditor.
Part of my job with Opera Software was to proofread and edit UI text—that is to say, I made sure the text written in our applications were error-free. Any time that I caught errors in our browsers’ copy, I would have flag the error and submit corrections through a relatively complicated version control process. Thus, I felt pained to have to halt production and distribution of a browser update because of a missing comma from a rarely used setting’s description. The omission of that comma would have haunted me for years to come.
Becoming a champion for commas started at university with my journalism studies under the great Dr Thomas Terry, yet it was Lynne Truss who validated by austere attitude towards the use of commas (and other punctuation) through her book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. This highly praised book instills the importance of punctuation in the English language through humor. You will come to appreciate the value of commas, apostrophes, semicolons, colons, and even italic type, brackets, ellipses, and more through this joyful book.
Getting the job as a documentation specialist with Shireburn Software triggered the same experience I had when joining Opera: there was joviality followed by curiosity. I was thrilled to have landed a job in Malta where I would have ownership of a company’s software documentation, but then I had to take a step back and think, “Now, what do I need to know about documenting business software?”
Judith Tarutz delivered the practical skills and wisdom I need for the new role. Technical Editing: The Practical Guide for Editors and Writers is her comprehensive work that guided me to understanding how to approach documentation projects both grand and minor in scale. The book is loaded with examples and case studies, all of which I have used to shape and curate Shireburn’s help articles, FAQs, and even video tutorials. Tarutz does a fantastic job at explaining real-world issues and challenges one will encounter as a technical editor and writer. This book goes beyond grammar and writing issues. You will understand when and how to apply differing levels of edits, how to structure documents, manage large-scale projects, and more. For anyone working with software documentation, this is your guide.