The snow has melted and the daffodils are up. That can mean only one thing – time for the annual spring clean! Your wardrobe is one issue, but how long is it since you refreshed your reference collection?
I don’t mean discarding the reliable stalwarts – New Hart’s Rules, Elements of Style or Eats, Shoots and Leaves. But maybe it’s time to look at some (fairly) new volumes for inspiration and ideas. Especially as the proofreading role is evolving to often include editing, giving feedback and writing tips, commenting on structure, strength of argument and project management.
So, when you are browsing for your summer holiday reading stash, take a quick peek at the reference shelf too. If you haven’t already discovered Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century your beach reading list is the perfect time to dip into this relatively new English style guide. And Bill Bryson makes even split infinitives fun with his dictionary of Troublesome Words – a golden oldie but a must-read for grammar geeks and language lovers alike.
Is your proofreading taking longer because you’re doing more editing and rewriting? For inspiration and project starter ideas, I found Roy Peter Clark’s Help! for Writers easy to read with fun exercises to use. Clark’s other books include The Glamour of Grammar – also a lucky dip of practical solutions to improving writing.
I also like some of the student guides that are around – even if they only serve to reinforce what you already know. But they can also help when dealing with challenging clients. In small guide format, the Pocket Study Skills series by Palgrave Macmillan are easy to transport to in-house gigs and are a non-threatening way to approach queries and start discussions with authors.
For example, if you find that the report you are working on needs editing and restructuring, it might be easier to mark up some suggestions backed by a short, simple guide such as Report Writing (Michelle Reid) which goes into detail about structure and the best way to present research findings.
And if referencing styles are keeping you up at night, take a look at Cite Them Right: The Essential Referencing Guide (Palgrave Study Skills).
With a spring clean, your reference collection will inspire you to start a new season of work refreshed!