Line Edit

I’ve complained before about the lack of quality copy editing being done in the newspaper biz.  A lot of copy editing is contracted out to Pagemasters, and, well, you get what you pay for.

Here’s the opening sentence from a movie review in today’s National Post:

Among the relationship the enhanced transparency of the online world is forcing us to get a little bit more honest about is our thoughts on honesty.

Betcha had to read that more than once to get the gist. How can our thoughts on honesty be one of the relationships about which the Internet is forcing us to be honest? Thoughts are thoughts, not relationships. (And yes, the article used the singular “relationship.”) Here’s my line edit:

The transparency of the online world is forcing us to be honest about our thoughts on honesty.

Forget about whether or not you agree with the above statement. (Personally, I don’t find the online world particularly transparent at all. The author should have been more precise about what he means, which is that the Internet allows us to readily expose one another’s misdeeds for the all the world to see. This is, after all, a review of The Fifth Estate.) The main thing to remember is to eliminate unnecessary words in the name of clarity. Your readers will thank you. Actually, your readers won’t even notice you; they’ll notice your ideas. And that’s how it should be.


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Filed under editing and writing, line editing

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