Editing classes at BYU work wonders. Each semester we develop many skills and learn strategies for fixing passive voice, sexist language, comma splices, and more. But then summer arrives, and we leave campus behind. Some of us may have an editing job or internship to help keep up on our skills, but what if we don’t?
As it turns out, there are many ways to practice editing skills without having to complete a 350 worksheet, peer edit a paper, or take a test. Here are six things that you can do to practice your skills—and have fun doing it!
Try a Chicago Manual of Style “Workout”
Every so often, the CMOS team posts an editing “workout” on their blog, which tests readers on the basic principles in The Chicago Manual of Style. Currently (as of April 15, 2020) there are forty-two workouts on topics ranging from the serial comma to numerals. Each workout has ten multiple-choice questions—easy!
Check out the list of the workouts and get pumping! With about sixteen weeks of summer vacation, you can do at least two a week. This is basically the HIGH Fitness of editing.
Take a New York Times Copyediting Quiz
If you like editing quizzes, practice on New York Times articles! Similar to Chicago’s workouts, the New York Times has taken created copyediting quizzes based on errors found in their articles. With over 15 to choose from, you can complete at least one a week till you step foot again in our beloved JFSB basement.
Read One Section of Chicago Every Week
Even if you aced ELANG 350, there are too many rules in Chicago to remember them all. That’s why it can be helpful to treat Chicago as the bible for editors and read a section every day. Reading one small section (e.g. 6.19) each day will help refresh your editing mind and build muscle memory.
Perhaps you’d like to read in numerical order or look up a question you’ve been wondering about. Either way, the more you refresh the rules in your mind, the better prepared you’ll be for all your projects in the fall. And if you have an editing job or project during the summer, this habit will still benefit you.
Don’t forget that you can access Chicago online through the Harold B. Lee Library.
Play a Merriam-Webster Game
Take a break from the technical quizzes and play a game that tests your linguistic knowledge. With topics ranging from etymology to anagrams, you can answer true or false questions, name a word based on its descriptions, or fill out a crossword—there are lots of options, just pick one that interests you and have some fun with words.
Edit Wikipedia Pages
Editing quizzes are fun, but they aren’t the same as editing an entire body of work. Perhaps the practice you need is to edit a Wikipedia page! Because Wikipedia is in the public domain, anyone can add or edit pages. With wide variety of topics, you can edit pretty much anything! Perhaps you can find a page about your favorite author or book, or a page about one of your role models. To get started, simply do the following:
- Create a Wikipedia account and log in
- Find a page that interests you
- Select the Edit button at the top of the page (see below)
- Edit till you want to finish
Viola! You have now edited something that will be used by someone else and practiced your impressive skills in the process.
Learn a New Style Guide
Believe it or not, not every organization follows The Chicago Manual of Style. I know, sad right? One of the best ways that you can demonstrate your skills as a capable editor is to familiarize yourself with multiple style guides. Commonly used guides include APA, AP, AMA, MLA, and more (this Wikipedia page has a pretty good list). Knowing more than one style guide not only show that you are capable to a potential employer, but also increase the list of jobs you are qualified for.
How do you learn a new style guide? Here are some ideas:
- Start by reading the key sections
- Look for the differences from Chicago or another manual you know
- Create a spreadsheet of important rules
- Look for quizzes and tests (check their website)
- Seek out information from those who publish/use the style guide
Download an App
There are many apps designed to test your internal dictionary. While they may not be about editing, it’ll help keep your English brain active, and expose you to new words in the process. Try an app like Words with Friends, Battle Text, Word Cookies, or Wordscapes if you need a break from the beach and want to have fun expanding your vocabulary.
There are many ways that you can strengthen your hard-earned editing prowess. The challenge is simply to stick with it! It doesn’t have to be daily, but consistent work with make all the difference when summer comes to a close.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: Choose one (or more) of these sources that you would like to use over the summer, bookmark the needed webpages or download the app, and make a schedule of when you’ll squeeze these in between your time at the pool and the drive-in movies.
Written by Hannah Mortenson.