Issue 59, 25 April 2002
In this issue...
Do editors focus on the wrong things?
Copyright and copyleft
Is data a singular or plural noun?
Handy Windows and Word tips for wheel mouse users
Search for trademarked items
Good example of an overview in online help
Have you received spam from an address at one of my domains?
New book - Taming Microsoft Word 2000 now available
Tracking advertising results: Adminder
Diversify your business and your income
Too many editors focus on the details and don't pay enough attention to the bigger picture when reviewing documents.
Is this statement true, or do writers, managers and others only perceive it to be true? If it is true, why does this happen? If it is not true, why do so many people think that is what editors do?
I think the statement is true, and that it is a problem for editors in general. Because some editors focus -- or appear to focus -- mainly on details (spelling, punctuation, formal grammar, word choices), other people are left with the impression that all editors are pedantic, nit-picky people who are more interested in correcting mistakes and enforcing rules than in helping writers create the best document for the intended audience.
Why does this narrow editorial focus occur, or appear to occur? I can think of several reasons, some to do with editors themselves and others associated with the perceptions and priorities of managers, writers and other clients.
Read the full article here: http://www.jeanweber.com/about/focus.htm
Are you familiar with the "copyleft" publishing license? It's a variation on copyright that allows you to freely copy, redistribute and rework copyleft material, as long as you abide by certain terms and conditions. Plagiarism (claiming someone else's work as your own) is still prohibited.
See http://dsl.org/copyleft/dsl.txt for details.
One advantage of a copyleft license to the publisher is wider distribution of material, a useful variation on "word of mouth" marketing, with the potential of higher sales. If you think your work is likely to be copied anyway, you might as well try to take advantage of the situation.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin 2000, says: "The word data is the plural of Latin datum, "something given," but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English... Sometimes scientists think of data as plural, as in "These data do not support the conclusions." But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage [as] in the sentence "We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs," where the quantifier "very little," which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts and results, implies that data here is indeed singular."
Merriam-Webster online says: "Data leads a life of its own quite independent of datum, of which it was originally the plural. It occurs in two constructions: as a plural noun (like earnings), taking a plural verb and plural modifiers (as these, many, a few) but not cardinal numbers, and serving as a referent for plural pronouns (as they, them); and as an abstract mass noun (like information), taking a singular verb and singular modifiers (as this, much, little), and being referred to by a singular pronoun (it). Both constructions are standard. The plural construction is more common in print, evidently because the house style of several publishers mandates it."
Editor Geoff Hart firstname.lastname@example.org notes, 'Although data is a plural noun in a strict Latin sense, and often in practice too, "data" is now commonly used as shorthand for "data set", "group of data", or "collection of data" in the sciences and computer industry, and thus inherently takes the singular form.
'Datum retains its technical meaning both as a single item of data and as a reference point against which other points are measured (e.g., in surveying and mapping); "data are" is both grammatically correct and commonly used when the meaning is plural.
'Compare "the data are contradictory" (one portion contradicts another, thus we're talking about two portions) and "the data is self-contradictory" (same meaning, but with data treated as a single collective entity).
If you have a wheel mouse, you can zoom in and out in Word, Internet Explorer, and numerous other programs by holding down the CTRL key while using the mouse scroll wheel.
If you hold down the SHIFT key while using the mouse scroll wheel, it acts as a Forward/Back button in your web browser.
I only recently got a wheel mouse (it came with my new computer) so I had not realized it had such a handy feature!
A useful website if you need to check whether a word or phrase is trademarked, and by whom: http://www.nameprotect.com/
If you've read my book Editing Online Help, you know I'm an advocate of included overview material in help files, but not in such a way that the overviews clutter up procedural topics. Recently I found what I consider to be a very good example of an overview topic.
"About Tables" in the Word 2000 help file briefly covers the parts of a table, creating and formatting tables, different purposes for which you can use a Word table (including page layout), and other topics, with links to procedural details and more information.
If you're received spam from an address at one of my domains (wrevenge.com.au or jeanweber.com), please be assured that I'm not sending it, nor have I allowed anyone to do so.
The spam is not going out through my ISP or my webhost company; the perpetrators are faking the originating addresses. Some are fairly obviously wrong (abcd@... or similar), but recently some messages are allegedly coming from jean@... or books@... or some other address that I actually use and people might recognize as coming from me.
This was bad enough when the spam was for dubious products and services, worse when it was porn, and has now gone to an ominous new level with virus attachments. There's nothing I can do about it other than warn you to be careful. Please note that I never send attachments unless I've cleared it with you first.
(Yes, some of my legitimate mail -- like this newsletter -- has advertising at the end of the message, but it's never the entire message, nor does it include an attachment.)
My new book, "Taming Microsoft Word 2000" is now available in both printed and downloadable PDF form. You can read the table of contents here: http://www.jeanweber.com/books/tamewd2k.htm.
That page also gives information on pricing and how to order. If you bought "Taming Microsoft Word" after January 1, 2002, you can upgrade to a PDF of the new edition at a reduced price.
I use Adminder, an ad-tracking service, and I recommend it to anyone who is doing any kind of marketing on the Web. For more information, visit this site.
While you've been reading the above, thousands of people all over the world have been working to put money in my pocket. By this time next week, YOU could be making extra money too. Get full no-obligation information here.
© Copyright 2002, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
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