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Why Consistency Matters

You’ve seen it at some point in your editing careers—heck, you’ve probably seen it in digital books as well: the spelling of the same word in three different ways; the use of the Oxford comma when the mood strikes; perhaps even a snippet of Vogon poetry.

Wait, sorry, probably not the Vogon poetry. Though, we do think that a certain United States presidential candidate does bear a striking resemblance to a Vogon... ????

Political banter aside, we want to cover how to tackle inconsistency in a manuscript, using the Accdon editor guidelines as a blueprint. (Don’t know what our guidelines are? They’re attached!)

Fig. versus Figure

You might notice, about halfway through the paper when the author’s energy is just about spent, that “Figure #” suddenly becomes “Fig. #” instead. No bueno. The author is required to use the same notation of figure throughout. As the editor, you can change the outlying instances into the one that appears more frequently. E.g.: If “Figure” appears more often than “Fig.,” then change “Fig.” to “Figure”—or vice versa.

Just make sure, when you make the change, that you leave a comment for the author, telling them why you made the change: “Editor has changed this term to maintain consistency throughout the manuscript” or something along those lines.

Numbers

They’re baaaack! Sometimes, the numbering system the author uses in their manuscript will be indecipherable.

Why did the author say “two kumquats” and “2 oranges” in the same sentence? The world may never know.

The AMA style guide recommends the use of numerals (e.g.: 1, 2, 3,...) throughout the manuscript. Unless, of course, the situation falls under one of a few instances. These are covered in the attached Accdon editor guidelines. (Ordinals, however, are a different story. Any ordinal under 10th must be written out.)

How to fix this? If you see a number written out, and it doesn’t fall under one of those few instances, then simply change it over to our preferred style, and mark it with a comment: “Editor has changed this number to conform to the AMA Style Guide” or something similar to that effect.

There is actually a really easy method (for numbers 2+, at least) that utilizes the advanced settings in the Find/Replace tool to do this, but that will be a tech update. Stay tuned!

The Oxford Comma

Hint: we love it. If we could write sonnets to it, we would. However, this being a professional setting, our ode to the Oxford comma must wait.

You’ll notice that, throughout a manuscript, the presence of an Oxford comma might be sparse at best. We are not asking you to painstakingly add in the Oxford comma throughout the document, but to treat it on a case-by-case basis:

If there are more Oxford commas than not, add it in where it is lacking. If the author just got a little artsy in one section of the manuscript, and left it out everywhere else, then delete the Oxford comma in that section. Leave a note, of course, explaining why: “Editor removed Oxford (serial) commas here to maintain consistency in document. If author wants them in the document, they must be added throughout.” Again, no need to quote verbatim. The same goes if you decide to be the hero(ine) and add them in.

Of course, we prefer the Oxford comma, but it is a stylistic choice on the author’s part—and depends whether or not they are utilizing UK or US English!

That is our newsletter update this month. Again, we’ve attached our style guide from a couple years back. If you think there is something missing on here, we would love to know. We want to update it to make it more applicable to your editing needs!

In the meantime, try not to panic, and don’t let that Vogon poetry give you a brain hemorrhage. It’s been shown to have that effect on non-Vogons...


(Please retain the reference in reprint: http://www.letpub.com/index.php?page=author_education_why_consistency_matters)

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