Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Category: Editing (page 1 of 3)

Persons over Projects

So I did an impromptu interview the other day in our office about my work as an editor. I wasn’t at all dressed or shaved for the occasion, but it was fun and it gave our media guy a chance to play around with his new toys and editing software. Here’s a piece he put together:

Oh, and there was this as well…


The Oatmeal and Grammar

The Oatmeal creates some of the funniest comics, quizzes, and other things on the interwebs. Their stuff on grammar is perfect for editors, English teachers, and other grammar snobs. Here’s one of my favorites:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, “Avoid ‘very’!”

Came across this very good superb graphic the other day. I was very eager keen to share it with the many very capable accomplished authors with whom I work. I especially thought the Dead Poets Society image and quote was very clever brilliant. I hesitated to post it because I was very worried anxious that some might think the last bit of the quote was very rude vulgar. So I may not be very wise sagacious in posting it now. I trust my readers have very large colossal capacities to forgive me for the very small tiny bit about the invention of language. It is rather sexist, I admit. We all know language has many very serious solemn uses.


Curmudgeon List, pt. 2

About eleven months ago I started a curmudgeon list. I had a handful of gripes I often had as an editor. It was not an exhaustive list. And since I tend toward a curmudgeonly disposition, it is is not a list that will likely ever stop growing. As you can guess, it is a list that can and does include things not associated with editing books and dealing with authors. In the last several months, I’ve had some pressure building up. This blog post is my relief valve. Additions to curmudgeon list after the jump.


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Manichaean Manuscripts

I realize that if Manichaeanism is not exactly at the top of everyone’s interests, then Manichaean manuscripts and codices (fourth–fifth centuries) are perhaps even lower down the list. But a book I am just finishing editing is a fascinating read: James M. Robinson, The Manichaean Codices of Medinet Madi.

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Spoiled Vessels

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled Continue reading

Dynamite ought to do it

At times of the year—and increasingly it is becoming ALL times of the year—there is a steady flow of book projects bobbing their way along the river that is my work. Most of the time I am able to move the logs along like a river pig with a peavey. But every once in a while a project gets caught in a bend and things start to back up—usually smaller logs like emails, copyedit reviews, phone calls, format checks, etc. Nothing ever near as bad as the Great Log Jam of 1883 in the Grand River of Michigan or the Greatest Logjam Ever in 1886 on the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

log jam

Yesterday I wriggled a key log loose. I didn’t have to use too much dynamite.

The Curmudgeon List, pt. 1

I have complained enough in our editorial meetings about the way authors have incorrectly used Forward when they mean Foreword that it has become a running joke. More than once I’ve been told I should add something to my “Curmudgeon List.” I’ve mentioned things before here on the blog that might be considered a part of the list. I thought it might be good to start keeping up with these things more seriously. So, I begin here an actual Curmudgeon List. I’ll add to it from time to time with new installments. I also invite my colleagues to make their own installments when it is their day to blog. And I am sure there are authors who could create a curmudgeon list with things about their editors. Feel free to share in the comments. Without further ado here are the first five things on my curmudgeon list…


  1. It is Foreword NOT Forward (and Afterword NOT Afterward)
  2. Do NOT send an editor your whole manuscript in lieu of the  proposal form.
  3. It is et al. (short for the Latin phrase et alia [and others]). Do not put a period after et; it is not an abbreviation.
  4. If ibid. does not begin a footnote (grammatically treated like a sentence) or a new sentence within a footnote, do not capitalize it.
  5. When using a footnote citation scheme in the body, where you cite Author’s Last Name, Shortened Title, and page number, alphabetize several sources by the same author in your bibliography. Listing them in chronological order is not helpful.

The Doom of Whom

Megan Garber at The Atlantic forecasts the death of a pronoun.

whom simply costs language users more than it benefits them. Correctness is significantly less appealing when its price is the appearance of being—as an editor at The Guardian wrote—a “pompous twerp.”

“Too damn many adverbs” and whiny monks

Yesterday I went looking for a blog post I had clipped last year in preparation for teaching a New Testament Introduction course. The post had a list of complaints medieval monks scribbled in the margins of illuminated manuscripts. I never did use the post in class. I could not find a good time to discuss textual criticism with mostly disinterested undergraduates. But in my digging I noted the content had actually been borrowed from Lapham’s QuarterlySo, as one does, I had to go down that rabbit hole. While there I came across this gem:

After serving as longtime copyeditor for The New Yorker, Wolcott Gibbs in the 1930s moved on to write drama criticism for the magazine and sent editor Harold Ross a document entitled “Theory and Practice of Editing New Yorker Articles.” Among his notes were: “1. Writers always use too damn many adverbs”; “20. The more ‘as a matter of facts,’ ‘howevers,’ ‘for instances,’ etc., etc., you can cut out, the nearer you are to the Kingdom of Heaven”; and lastly, “31. Try to preserve an author’s style if he is an author and has a style.

Disdain for the adverb has not subsided in the last 80 years. Stephen King hates them too! As for the list of the monks’ complaints, why, you might ask, did I go looking for it in the first place. Well, after drudging through some of the tedium of editing manuscripts, I feel their pain. I was looking for commiseration:


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