Editors ensure correctness and consistency. We learn the rules of grammar and syntax, and enforce them where they’re relevant and make exceptions when they’re not. Many of us have style rules memorized, but there’s a saying among editors: “when in doubt, look it up.”
This is the editor’s version of “measure twice, cut once.” It means that if there’s any doubt at all about something—a word’s definition or the placement of punctuation, for example—it’s often better to look it up than chance leaving or introducing an error.
Thus, you can bet that a working editor will consult manuals, style guides, reference books, blogs, and each other regularly. Language and writing conventions change over time, so editors are always learning, always keeping up with shifting norms.
In this series, which I’m calling “Always Looking It Up,” I’ll be discussing words, grammar, punctuation, and anything else editing related that I’ve looked up in the course of editing. Subjects will include things that I’ve been unsure of at times or that I’ve seen other writers have issues with.
If you have any questions about usage, grammar, punctuation, or language, leave a comment or contact me, and I’ll do my best to cover it in a future post.