Editing Practice

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"Use 'said.'  A news article is a record of something that has happened.  Those events may be recent, but they are definitely in the past. The present tense 'says' is inappropriate." From Dr. Jerz Copy Editing handout


Uh-oh, I do believe I used "says" a couple times in my peer profile.  I think I had immediacy on mind while writing and "says" just seemed more in the now.  I did have an inkling, perhaps, it wasn't suitable.  Maybe it was because of the way we're taught to write about literary works in the present that influenced my choice.  No matter, I know now to stick with "said."


I liked the section on dates and times, because I felt unsure about these when writing the obituary.  It also states in the stylebook never to use st, nd, rd, or th.  I should've consulted the stylebook more closely earlier, rather than try and rationalize what may or may not be the correct format on my own. 


As for the examples:

1.      Assistant News Editor, Anne O'Nymous read the article.

The comma would be unnecessary here, because "Assistant News Editor" is part of her title.

2.      She was highly appreciated by Jameson for solving the problem. "I really appreciate her work ethic and problem-solving ability," said Jameson.

Redundant. Either use the first sentence alone or use the actual quote from Jameson.

3.      Spunky Inkworthy has only written for The Setonian this year, but Obituaries Editor, Lazarus O'Mortigan, was very complimentary towards Spunky's contributions.
"The" doesn't require capitalization, because it's not part of the paper's title.  Remove the commas from around Lazarus O'Mortigan. Would it be Obituary, Obituaries or Obituary's Editor?  And, "Spunky's" should be replaced with "Inkworthy's," since he is not a child and no other source shares this last name.

4.      In a telephone call from Head Librarian Marian Paroo, she discussed Inkworthy's contributions.
First, this statement is unclear as to who is discussing contributions. Second, would you need to capitalize the title Head Librarian? Would it be better put Marian Paroo, head librarian, etc.? 

5.      "Here is a quote", said Bill Jones freshman.

Comma should be enclosed within quotation marks. Let's try this solution, "Bill Jones, freshman (major)(school), said, 'Here is a quote.'"







Greta Carroll said:

I share your feelings about the said/says issue. In fact, I used “said” when I originally wrote my peer profile and when I was revising it (that is before I turned it in to Google documents even), I remembered being told that news writing is supposed to be made to feel immediate and present to the reader, so I went back through and changed them all to “says.” However, as this copyediting tips sheet says, that is wrong.

Jennifer Prex said:

When writing a first draft, it always does seem to be way too easy to use the wrong tense at the wrong time or to be inconsistent, either because the rule is previously unknown--as in this case--or simply because one doesn't consciously think about it at the time of writing. That's what revisions are for.

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