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Words you see only in headlines

I am a copy editor, and as part of that job, I write headlines. Last week, I wrote this headline, using a word that we rarely see except in headlines

Defending a perfectly good word

An online reader comment on a headline prompts this post in defense of a word.

Every time a cliche rings, a copy editor gets her wings

The holiday season brings out the familiar and the banal.

Word search: How a copy editor thinks

We work very fast these days with diminished resources, and sometimes my word nerd proclivities have to wait until I am off deadline. Lucky for me, I have shelves filled with dictionaries and usage books at home. I can indulge my need to know more about English.

In defense of editing

John McIntyre, director of the Baltimore Sun's copy desk, has a few things to say about Wikipedia in a recent blog post. But he also has something to say about editing:

"My whole professional effort for nearly three decades has been to make sure that the published texts at the newspapers for which I have worked are, as far as human fallibility and the pressures of time will allow, factually accurate, grammatical and clear. To do this requires knowledgeable, trained editors."

Amen, Brother John. 

Found treasure

I happened across a copy of John B. Bremner's "Words on Words" on a bookshelf in The N&O's computer training center last week. It had been left behind in an editor's office. I was excited to find this copy in good shape. My own copy at home is a bit worn, and the book is out of print. Now I have an extra copy to keep on my desk at work and to share with my fellow copy editors. Subtitled "A Dictionary for Writers and Others Who Care about Words," the book was published in 1980, but it still serves us well when we need a solid reference on usage.If you ever have a chance to get a copy, you should.

Bremner was a teacher at the University of Kansas. He is a legend in copy editing circles for his teaching and his book. The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at KU has a section on its Web site devoted to Bremner. Try his editing test here. You can read Bremner's obituary in the New York Times here.

Everyone needs a copy editor

Gene Weingarten's Under the Beltway column in the Washington Post has a funny take on copy editing. We copy editors appreciate Weingarten's humor.

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