Hyphens and Compounds: ECE3 Book Club

The second meeting of the Kingston Twig’s ECE3 Book Club, held on October 9, 2019, at the Ongwanada Resource Centre in Kingston, was a success:

  • Shockingly, everyone in the group was discovered to have opinions—in some cases, even feelings—about at least some hyphens to some degree.
  • The hyphen in attributive adjective compounds (a hyphen use discussion / a hyphen-use discussion), on which the Associated Press recently changed its guidelines, was discussed.
  • The suspended hyphen (e.g., three- and four-year-old children) was examined.
  • The en dash was praised.
  • The hyphen table in Chicago was consulted.
  • Style variations in different types of publications were explored.
  • The first two editions of ECE3, brought for show and tell by Lee, were admired.
  • There was a side trip to discussion of the famous spelling variants table, wherein it was revealed that Elizabeth had been responsible for the most recent version thereof.

Clearly, editors know how to have a good time!

Two newcomers to the group—Carolyn, a one-time FEAC member who now works at Queen’s and is updating her skills with the Standards courses, and John, who described himself as someone who currently edits only recreationally—were welcomed.

Snacks were consumed.

The location of the June Editors Canada national conference, its second with an international theme, and expected to have speakers and attendees from the U.S., Europe, and beyond as well as Canada, was announced: Montreal.

An invitation is extended to all: join us next month!

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.


Stephanie Stone and Elizabeth d’Anjou

Editors Kingston coordinators

Coming Up October 9: Hyphens and Compounds (ECE3 Book Club)

“This morning I deleted the hyphen from ‘hell-bound’ and made it one word; this afternoon I redivided it and restored the hyphen.”

The quote is from Edwin Arlington Robinson, an American poet (hugely popular in his day) who died in 1935. But let’s be honest: it could have been any one of us, right?

There’s been a flurry of discussion about hyphenation among online editing groups recently in the wake of changes made this year to the hyphenation guidance in the Associated Press Stylebook online. Thus, it seems as good a time as any to hold the second oh-so-official meeting of the Kingston twig’s Editing Canadian English Book Club, with a focus on Chapter 4, “Compounds and Hyphens.”

The third edition of this flagship Editors Canada publication was published in hardcover by UBC Press in 2016 and as an ebook in 2017, available in all major formats, at the bargain price of $9.99 (or less).<em>Editing Canadian English</em>, 3rd edition

At a 2018 gathering, the twig discussed Chapter 2, “Inclusivity.” The format of using the guide as a jumping-off point for a discussion of the issue in the work of attendees proved so successful that we never got to discussing Chapter 4 as well as we had planned. We meant to schedule it last year, but our guest-speaker dance card (guest speaker dance card?) was so full we couldn’t fit it in!

What with the raging controversy over the AP announcement, we think the time has come.

ECE3 (as it’s affectionately known) is subtitled A Guide for Editors, Writers, and Everyone Who Works with Words. If that includes you, come join us!

Reading the chapter in advance is encouraged but not required. If you have a copy, bring it along. If not, that’s fine; there will be a few extras on hand, and we can project the ebook on our screen. (But, really, at under ten bucks, why not pick one up? See the Editors Canada website for details and links.)

If you’d like to read about the new AP hyphenation guidelines, try this article in Slate; it has a lot more links for anyone who wants to go down the rabbit hole!

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.


Elizabeth d’Anjou and Stephanie Stone

Editors Kingston coordinators



Lessons Learned

Nine members and friends of the twig attended the first meeting after our summer break for a discussion prompted by the phrase “Today I learned …” The acronym “TIL” is widely used on Twitter as a way of introducing a comment; attendees were asked to each share something they had learned recently that was useful to their editing work.

It turns out that twiggers have learned quite a lot lately, from tips for more effective responses to potential client inquiries to thoughtful new ways of approaching structural editing to tricks for using Word that save time and reduce aggravation. One newcomer to the group shared her new knowledge about how many resources are now available to editors, especially online, compared with her memories of a previous foray into editing over a decade ago.

The coffee flowed, the snacks were shared, old friends greeted each other and new visitors were welcomed. We’re back in business!

Hope to see you soon,

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

Elizabeth d’Anjou and Stephanie Stone

Editors Kingston coordinators

Our logo



Coming Up September 11: Today I Learned…

Photo is © alamosbasement, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Share a lesson from the past year and catch up with colleagues!

On “Editor Twitter,” many posts begin with the abbreviation “TIL,” which stands for “Today I learned ….” We thought that would make a good theme for an editor’s gathering. No matter how old we get, there’s something about September that makes us feel like it’s back-to-school time. And goodness knows we could all use a little wisdom.

So, we’re asking everyone to join us on Wednesday, September 11, at our usual place and time, ready to tell about something new you’ve learned recently. It could be a new editing-related skill, an insight that’s helped to improve your business, a quick trick in Word that’s doubled your speed ─ anything new you’ve learned and would like to share.

We’ll also have a short discussion of Twig business and national announcements, and plenty of time to catch up and share, network and mingle. Find out what your old editing friends have been up to and meet some new ones.

Meanwhile, we’re planning our second-ever twig annual general meeting, to be held online as a videoconference, later in the month. Details coming soon!

Hope to see you on the 11th. Bring a friend!

Photo is © alamosbasement, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Elizabeth d’Anjou and Stephanie Stone

Editors Kingston coordinators

Our logo

Coming Up June 12: Summer Social at Merchant Tap Room

YES, summer is coming, despite the lingering chill in the air. Let’s celebrate!

We did well last year at the Merchant Tap Room, so have booked there again: 6a Princess Street, Kingston (just north of the Holiday Inn), 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12.

It’s an accessible, historic stone building and has an extensive menu of food and draft beers.
Merchant Tap House PatioWe won’t be meeting in July and August, so don’t miss this chance to eat, drink, share summer plans, and catch up. (Elizabeth might even have managed to acquire photos of her workspace to share by then. ;-p )

Food and drink are pay-as-you-go. The $5 fee for meeting visitors does *not* apply for this social event. All are welcome; bring a partner or friend!

RSVP to Stephanie If You’re Coming

If you’ll be joining us, please RSVP to Stephanie Stone by Monday, June 10, at sstone4@cogeco.ca.


The closest street parking is on Ontario Street or else Clarence Street. There are also the parking lots on Ontario Street at Brock and opposite the Holiday Inn. There is a walkway just below the pub that takes one to the Brock Street pier and the waterfront park.

See you there!

Workplace Show-and-Tell

Eight of us had a lovely time sharing our workspaces at the gathering on May 8. Even in this small group, there was a surprising diversity even in setups!

Wade's Workspace

Wade’s desk at at co-working space downtown. Pros include no household distractions and encountering actual humans during the workday. Cons include a steady stream of tours for people considering taking desks at the co-working facility for fewer distractions.

Steph's Workspace

Right: Stephanie’s desk. Its generous size and the TWO lamps were much admired.

Mickeelie's Workspace

Middle Row Left: Mickeelie’s desk, submitted even though Mickeelie couldn’t be there. We were in awe. Copper pencil cup, fresh flowers, and carafe: dead giveaways that Mickeelie is of the Instagram generation.

Brenda's Workspace 3

The moment we have all been waiting for: Brenda’s treadmill desk! The treadmill surface folds up when necessary (“Oh, like a Murphy bed!”) to give the unit a very small footprint. Below left: the treadmill desk again. Below right: Brenda’s trusty assistant.

Brenda's Workspace 2Brenda's Workspace 1

Bob's Workspace

Bob’s desk. Computer is an all-in-one (no tower unit). Vintage desk was much admired.  Also the inspirational toy cars at left.


Adrienne's Workspace

Adrienne’s desk. IKEA brackets at the back mount the flat-screen monitor, while the laptop gives a second one. Ultra-wide keyboard tray. A PC-on-a-Stick lets her record versions of her famous instructional videos on using Word and other technology for both Mac and Windows.


And Don’t Miss….

In response to a request, Adrienne supplied links for more info on some of her tech:

Ellie declined to submit a photo (“I didn’t have time to tidy up”), but described her setup, which also includes a keyboard tray.

Elizabeth couldn’t get her photos to upload, and in any case explained that her office was in the midst of a slow makeover. Two new desks (a main computer station and a smaller drop-leaf one for the occasional paper work) have been installed, but the monitor stand arrived in the wrong colour, so a stack of reference books is doing the job for now.

And Lee, now retired, described how she got in the habit of working on her bed, with a big lap-board and, later, a laptop computer on a wall-mounted monitor arm, when there was no corner of a child-filled house for a separate workspace. Later, as an empty nester with a room to dedicate as an office, she couldn’t help but … put a “work bed” in it.

Want to Play?

Post a comment here with a photo of your workspace, or post it on our Facebook group.


The conference is coming up, June 7 to 9. Elizabeth will be attending. She’ll also be at the AGM, which is held on the conference Saturday; if you’d like her to carry a proxy, she’ll be happy to cast votes for you. OR you can attend from home by Zoom. (Info and a proxy form have been sent to all members; if you need help, contact the national office: info@editors.ca .)

We’re hoping to have a Twig AGM in September again. Details to come. Next year we’ll try to move it to May.

Summer Social

Save the date: join us for dinner and/or drinks at a fine Kingston eatery on June 12. Details soon!






Coming Up May 8: Workspace Show-and-Tell


Are you sitting in your usual workspace as you read this? If not, pretend you are. Are you in a home office? In your employer’s office? A café? An oak-lined library? What kind of desk are you sitting at—or standing at? Or is it the dining table? Or is your laptop balanced on your knees?

Do you have two monitors? Three? Is there an ergonomic keyboard that doubles your productivity? Is there a favourite mug always on your desk, full of chamomile tea?


Are you by a window with a lovely view? Is there a bookcase within reach, or are all your go-to resources online these days? How far do you have to go for snacks? Are there by any chance … cats?

At Editors Kingston, we often share about what we do; for our May gathering, we thought it would be fun to talk about where and with what. Come join us and share whatever details you’d like about your workspace.

Share a Photo

LauravillejiquelWhy not snap a photo of your space, and we’ll have a slide show? Email your pic to Stephanie Stone at sstone4@cogeco.ca or post it to the Editors Kingston Facebook group by Tuesday, May 7.

You can do this even if you aren’t able to come to the meeting! The more workspaces, the merrier.


Join Us!

Wednesday, May 8

Ongwanada Resource Centre, 191 Portsmouth Avenue

7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30).

Free for Editors Canada members; $5 fee for visitors (first meeting free).

Coming Up June 12: Spring Social!

Details TBA.


Image Credits: Computer desk by Julien Houbrechts, used under Creative Commons licence SA 2.0. Medieval writing desk from the book South by East: Notes of Travel in Southern Europe by G.F. Rodwell (1877), public domain. Laptop at café table by Laorus, used under Creative Commons licence SA 3.0.

Talking Canadian Linguistics and the Strathy Language Unit

by Wade Guyitt

2019-04-10 20.33.33

You knew Anastasia Riehl’s presentation on Canadian linguistics had to include this slide….

As editors, we’re trained to intervene in written language, whenever needed, to maximize its effects. You’ve heard of helicopter parents? Editors are helicopter readers, always poised, proverbial red pen at the ready, to tighten awkward phrases or tidy inconsistencies of spelling.

But if we’re the zookeepers of language, linguists are more like animal biologists – they watch words just as closely but do so while peering through the bushes, trying not to spook their prey. Linguistics seeks not to correct usage but to draw conclusions about it – although editors, like all who work with words, have much to learn from what linguists have to say.


Anastasia Riehl, director of the Queen’s University Strathy Language Unit

To find out more about some cutting-edge linguistic work happening right in our own back yard, on April 10 Editors Kingston welcomed Anastasia Riehl, director of Queen’s University’s Strathy Language Unit, to speak about “Exploring Canadian English with Linguistic Corpora.” The unit is a research unit founded in 1981 by Queen’s alumnus J. R. Strathy, who, Anastasia says, observed that “English departments tend to focus on literature instead of language.” Strathy felt that looking at English – and Canadian English in particular, compared to other Englishes spoken around the world – was important. Today, thanks to his bequest, the Strathy Language Unit (queensu.ca/strathy/) is internationally renowned as a centre for Canadian English linguistic studies.

What is Canadian English? It’s typically described as a mixture of US and UK styles, but of course, it has aspects all its own. And it contains multitudes: British English, American English, Canadian French, Aboriginal languages, and a host of immigrant languages from around the world influence what English is in Canada. The Strathy website says, “We are interested in English as it is used by all speakers throughout the country, not just those from a particular region or with a particular background. The variety we find within communities and throughout the country is in part what makes the study of Canadian English such an engaging one.”

What Does the Unit Do?

Probably the Strathy Language Unit’s most prominent achievement – and the one that intersects most directly with the world of editing – is the Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage (full disclosure: I worked on this and other Strathy projects while a student years ago). Falling “somewhere between an encyclopedia and a dictionary,” according to Anastasia, this usage guide uses real examples gathered from quoted Canadian English to explore thorny style questions and offer guidance to help Canadians feel more confident in their writing and speaking, particularly in situations where existing US and UK guidebooks don’t quite fit.

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Wade, Bob, and Kait listen to Anastasia Riehl talk about the Strathy Language Unit’s work.

The Strathy Unit has also produced series of occasional papers, digital publications, corpus projects (more on this later), and an online bibliography for the study of Canadian English (4,000 sources to date). It supports Canadian English courses at Queen’s and also hosts and supports conferences. (One upcoming will focus on “nonbinary pronouns” – not just the generic singular “they,” with which editors must often grapple, but also pronouns preferred by those not identifying with a particular binary gender, an increasingly important social and grammatical issue of recent years.)

A number of exciting projects are in progress. One is a student project on Canadian slang that will include videos on YouTube (“everyone wants to work on slang,” Anastasia says). Another project is a “digital voice map,” allowing contributors to upload samples of their own speech and listen to others, all pegged to location. The unit also contributed to a recent mammoth scholarly achievement, the second edition of A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, which charts changes in Canadian English over time. (To keep up, check out the Strathy blog at queensu.ca/strathy/blog.)

The Strathy Corpus

Much of this work is underpinned by the Strathy Unit’s secret weapon: its corpus. A corpus is essentially a large sample of language that meets the requirements of researchers: in this case, multiple examples of English as written or spoken by Canadians, in different registers and contexts – formal, informal, academic, creative, and so on. By gathering enough examples of usage, a corpus allows language use to be studied systematically, in statistical fashion, rather than based on assumptions that may or may not be correct.

Anastasia recounted a story about an early meeting of the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada (FEAC), at which the editors attending were polled about “preferences when editing for the Canadian market.” As it turned out, she quoted, “the response of a handful of editors to the set ‘mould/mold’ was quite dazzling and typified the confusion, if not mayhem, that we occasionally encounter” (Lydia Burton, 1982, “In search of a Canadian style,” Scholars Publishing 13.4.347–54). The twig members were amused to inform Anastasia that FEAC had ultimately morphed into Editors Canada, and thus the meeting where this polling took place was a precursor to the one at which she was speaking!

Today, with access to a resource like the Strathy Corpus, national preferences can be explored much more precisely. Targeted searches show exactly how often writers use “travelled” compared to “traveled,” say, or which adjectives most often complement which nouns. The group was pleased to learn that the Strathy Corpus is available online at www.english-corpora.org/.

Most linguistic work on Canadian English today, Anastasia says, would be termed “variationist sociolinguistics.” Speaking simply, this means looking at, first, how language changes over time and, second, how it varies based on social factors like gender, race, region, education, class, ethnicity, and so on. By comparing speech patterns of, for instance, young and old speakers, we not only gain insight into how language has changed but can also start to make guesses about how it will change in years to come.

The Wolfe Island English Corpus

The bulk of Anastasia’s presentation looked at a more specific corpus she has been assembling. Because most of the larger Strathy Corpus is written English, Anastasia sought to develop a unique spoken corpus, gathered in partnership with the Wolfe Island Historical Society. Comprising over 90 hours of interviews (with respondents between 55 and 97 years of age), totalling over a million words, the Wolfe Island English Corpus (WIEC) is starting to reveal fascinating conclusions about how the rural island life of the past has shaped language use among residents. Spoken informal usage is the most difficult to capture without subjects becoming self-conscious, distorting their true way of speaking.

File:Wolfe island canada.jpg

Wolfe Island (NASA photo)

Today the island links up easily with mainland Kingston, but for most of its history, its four separate communities saw very little interaction, and islanders were likely more closely connected to Cape Vincent, New York, than to Kingston. Pre-ferry, a crossing in winter meant travelling over ice by horse and later by car. Farming, fishing, cheese-making, and boat-building industries gave otherwise specialized vocabulary common currency on the island.

Analysis of the material in the corpus is only just starting, but Canadians will surely be interested to know that “eh” – a “discourse particle, seeking confirmation or analysis” – constitutes a full 0.21 per cent of the WIEC. How that, and other vocabulary, compares to other regional corpora across Canada is sure to turn up fascinating insights into language formation and how – and why – the places we live in help to determine how we speak.

In the brief recording excerpts Anastasia played, we also heard how what we as editors would likely consider “non-standard” usage brings a richness and evocative musical tone to language. For instance, one dramatic story about a horse almost drowning ended with the memorable phrasing “after that I never had any time for crossing the ice none” – no doubt a reminder that editing that removes style is not good editing at all.

Have Your Say!

Do you have ideas about how a corpus could be useful in your editing work? Contact Anastasia Riehl at the Strathy Language Unit, Queen’s University: riehla@queensu.ca.


The meeting included, as usual, some national announcements from coordinator Elizabeth d’Anjou:

  • The conference is coming up in Halifax! Celebrate Editors Canada’s 40th anniversary with hundreds of fellow editors. Full program now available on the conference website.
  • Some great webinars are coming up! Two fantastic instructors in May:
    • Frances Peck presents “Plain Language Tips” on May 8
    • The inimitable Dr. Freelance, Jake Poinier, offers “Strategic Pricing and Persuasive Estimating” on May 21

Also, past webinar recordings are available for sale (you get a download of the video and audio session to watch any time, plus a copy of all the slides and any handouts). Great training at a bargain price! Some more are in the works (including, soon, Elizabeth’s own “Top Ten Things I Wish I’d Known When Starting as a Freelance Editor”); check the webinars website for updates.

Coming Up May 8: Workspace Show-and-Tell

We at the twig often share about what we do; for our May gathering, we thought it would be fun to talk about where and with what. Come join us and share whatever details you’d like about your workspace.

2019-04-10 20.55.14

Does your workspace include easy access to snacks? Our twig meetings do!

Tell us about your desk/chair/monitor(s)/local café/cubicle. Snap a photo if you like and send it to Stephanie Stone (sstone4@cogeco.ca) or post it on the Facebook group’s page — we’ll have a slide show.

(Feel free to participate even if you can’t make the meeting!)

See the blog post for more details.



Coming Up April 10: Exploring Canadian English


The Strathy Language Unit was established at Queen’s University in 1981 with a mission to study standard English usage in Canada. Since that time, the unit has supported a variety of initiatives to examine Canadian English from diverse perspectives as well as the notion of a “standard” in an evolving linguistic landscape.

We are extremely pleased to be welcoming Dr. Anastasia Riehl, Director of the Language Unit, to join us on April 10 to give a presentation on “Exploring Canadian English with Linguistic Corpora.” Given that the Unit is hosted at Queen’s University (it was founded with a bequest from alumnus J.R. Strathy), it seems only natural to have its unique work as the subject of an Editors Kingston gathering.


In her role as Director of the Strathy Language Unit, Dr. Riehl pursues and supports projects that explore Canadian English from linguistic, social and historical perspectives. Her other areas of research interest include phonology (sound patterns) and endangered-language documentation.

The Strathy Language Unit, according to its Queen’s web page, has “produced two editions of the Guide to Canadian English Usage as well as two paper series; established the Strathy Corpus of Canadian English; collaborated on projects such as the Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles; supported an undergraduate course in Canadian English at Queen’s; hosted conferences such as the […] 2014 Change and Variation in Canada; and served as a resource for students, international scholars and members of the public interested in Canadian English.”


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Hear Elizabeth’s report from the ACES conference in Providence, where 800+ American editors gathered for three days of editorial hijinks and general word nerdery, and where she sold a copy of Editing Canadian English 3 to the New Yorker’s copy editor emerita, Mary Norris.

Join Us!

Wednesday, April 10

Ongwanada Resource Centre, 191 Portsmouth Avenue

7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30).

Free for Editors Canada members; $5 fee for visitors (first meeting free).


Professional Editorial Standards with Elizabeth d’Anjou

2019-03-13 20.37.36

Kingston Twiggers puzzle over the Professional Editorial Standards word game.

Nine people came together on Wednesday, March 13, to learn more about these standards and share their experiences of using them. Afterwards, we tested our knowledge by playing standards matching games.

At the request of student member Monica Laane-Fralick, who isn’t able to attend meetings in person, Brenda Leifso set her up to attend using Zoom. Our meeting venue has wifi, and since Elizabeth was using slides for her presentation, she used the Share Screen function of Zoom to enable Monica to see the slides. Monica reported that she thought the meeting was “terrific.”

As a lead-in to her presentation, Elizabeth d’Anjou talked about her upcoming trip to attend the annual conference of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) on March 30–31, representing Editors Canada. At previous conferences, several people have told her that they use our standards. (There isn’t anything similar in the United States.) Many U.S. editors are also intrigued by our certification program; according to – and thanks in large part to – honorary life member Lee d’Anjou, who said, “We invented it!” Elizabeth will be giving a talk on standards and certification at ACES.

What Are the Professional Editorial Standards?

The Professional Editorial Standards (PES) set out (to quote the 2009 version) “the knowledge, skills, and practices most commonly required for editing English-language material.” They clarify what is expected of Canadian editors working at a professional level, and they define the criteria against which an editor’s knowledge, skills, and practice can be measured. There are five categories: The Fundamentals of Editing, Structural Editing, Stylistic Editing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading. They’re comprehensive but succinct – only 16 pages long. And they’re available to anyone – you don’t need to be a member of Editors Canada – and can be downloaded from the association’s website.

Who Uses PES?

Editors use PES to guide their professional development, expand their editing skills, explain what editing is and what editors do, and prepare for certification. The word professional is key: to call oneself an editor, it isn’t enough to have a flair for noticing grammar errors; the job is more comprehensive than that. Standards provide a method for agreeing on what it is we’re talking about. Cat London suggested that freelance editors can use the standards as a tool for explaining to clients what’s involved in the type of editing they’re planning to do and as a rationale for their fee.

Editors Canada uses PES to develop and maintain certification, explain what editors should do when performing various stages of editing, increase awareness of the value of editing, and design material, seminars, and courses on editing. An example of such material is the set of four Editors Canada workbooks, Meeting Professional Editorial Standards, each of which contains exercises based on the standards in one of the four main areas (plus the fundamentals). A new edition is  in the works – Elizabeth is the project’s volunteer editor-in-chief – under the new title Edit Like a Pro, and it will include downloadable Word and PDF files for realistic, hands-on practice. The Proofreading volume is expected to launch in June and the Structural Editing one in the fall.

Those who hire editors (both employers and freelance clients) use PES to determine what skills will be needed for the level of edit, to define the scope of a project, to help write statements of work, and to train in-house editors.

Instructors of editors use them to prepare and mark teaching material for seminars and editing courses. Twig member Brenda Leifso is currently teaching the Fundamentals of Editing course, which is part of Queen’s University’s Professional Editing Standards Certificate. Each of the five courses is based on one category of the PES. Brenda said that many of her students are taking the course to determine their skill level. Most students have no experience in editing, but some are at the top level.

History of PES

Development of PES began in the 1980s and arose out of discussions about certification as it became clear that a test of editing skills needed to have a clear set of expectations to test against. Developing a set of standards required a long consultation process and approval by the membership. The original categories were Structure and Style Editing, Copy Editing, Proofreading, and Knowledge of the Publishing Process. These were updated in 2009 to Fundamentals, Structural Editing, Stylistic Editing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading.

The update in 2016 kept the same categories, but with a number of smaller changes – in particular, updating many examples. It also changed some standards and added a few more to improve clarity and reflect new realities. For example, in The Fundamentals of Editing, the introduction was updated to define the difference between knowledge and practice. A new standard was added (A11.1: Ensure everyone on the team is aware of the appropriate level of intervention for the edit). Standard A6.1 added “and accessibility in print and electronic media,” and A8.1 added “Use editorial judgment when deciding whether to intervene, leave as is, query, change, or recommend a change.”

Structural Editing has two new standards – B3: If necessary, recommend headings and navigation aids to clarify or highlight organization of material; and B4: Recommend or implement the most effective positioning of auxiliary textual material (e.g., sidebars and pull quotes). Stylistic Editing was reorganized to add an explanation to the preamble and explain when a stylistic edit is performed, and it includes one new standard (C1: Improve paragraph construction to more effectively convey meaning). Standard C4 changed “rewrite” to “revise,” and C11 was changed to “Establish, maintain, or enhance tone, mood, style, and authorial voice or level of formality … (e.g., making text more engaging or entertaining).” Elizabeth likes to call this the “make it not be boring!” standard.

Copy Editing has one new standard (D6: Review visual materials and organizational information to ensure they are accurate and correct, or query as required). Standard D5 added “historical details, narrative timelines” to the examples, and D11 changed the wording to include “arbitrary and confusing shifts and variations in terminology, logic, and mechanics.” Proofreading has two new standards – E6: Whenever possible, proofread the material in its intended medium; and E7: Understand English spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and correct errors within the limits of the proofreading role.

More Information on Standards

Did you know that Editors Canada has a YouTube channel? Watch “Professional Editorial Standards: Do They Matter?” (1:15 minutes) at


Editors Canada hosts the Editors Weekly blog, which has featured a series of posts on PES, starting with “Professional Editorial Standards: What Does an Editor Do Today?”

Follow PES on Twitter! @ProEdStandards tweets excerpts from the standards about twice a week, and sometimes examples from other people’s tweets are connected to the standards.

Our Own Standards

We had a brief session of sharing examples from our own editing that represented various standards and using the standards in our editing work (for example, to justify fees for a job or make clear that a particular task was an expected part of an edit).

Fun with Standards

Elizabeth passed out brightly coloured standards stickers, and then we matched our wits against the PES matching games. Each game listed five random standards on the left side of a page and the five standards categories on the right; several letters were printed in the middle. As we drew a line from each standard to its category, the line would pass through a letter. We then had to unscramble the letters to reveal the hidden word. If no word emerged, we hadn’t matched a standard to the correct category. Each game was challenging and a lot of fun. (Most of us had little trouble matching the standards, but struggled with the unscrambling!)


Upcoming Editors Canada Webinars:

  • What’s the GST? with Michelle Waitzman – April 2 – Everything a freelance editor needs to know about GST/HST.
  • Starting a Freelance Editing or Writing Career with Christine LeBlanc – April 6 & 13 – Learn the basic steps to your dream job!
  • Usage Traps and Myths with Frances Peck – April 10 – Is impact accepted as a verb? Why are prevent and avoid so often confused? Is it okay to verbify? Learn the answers to these and many more scintillating syntax questions from one of Editors Canada’s most accomplished members and best presenters.

Visit the Editors Canada training site for more info on upcoming webinars. You can also purchase past webinar recordings.

Conference – June 7–9 in Halifax. It’s Editors Canada’s 40th anniversary!

Twig and Branch Zoom Meeting Report

Stephanie and Elizabeth attended a conference call with other twig and branch leaders in February. After learning about the governance of the organization from President Gael Spivak, we had a lively discussion about attracting and retaining members. All groups find this a challenge, and several people offered their trials and tribulations. One branch finds that people join when they’re working as freelancers but stop renewing their membership when they’re hired for in-house jobs. Attendance at meetings is often low. Two groups give presentations to students: Quebec and Barrie (the latter meets at the local community college, which has a writing and editing program).

Graduated Student Member Fees

Student members can now transition to regular membership over two years instead of paying for full membership in one shot. They’ll pay $100 the first year after they’ve graduated from their program, then the regular membership fee starting the second year. Editors Canada wants to encourage student members to become full members.