A behind-the-scenes look at the Blue Pencil (Editors BC meeting)

Lower Mainland editors have probably heard of the Vancouver Public Library’s Blue Pencil sessions but may not know what they involve. At January’s Editors BC meeting, moderator Wendy Barron and a panel of editors who’ve participated in them—Sarah Robins, Erin Parker, Meagan Dyer, and Nancy Tinari—set out to demystify the program and encourage other editors to volunteer. Continue reading “A behind-the-scenes look at the Blue Pencil (Editors BC meeting)”

Editors Canada: update on national happenings (Editors BC meeting)

Margaret Shaw, Editors Canada’s regional director of Western Canada’s branches and twigs, attended her first meeting as a member of the National Executive Council (NEC) in September, and at yesterday’s BC branch meeting she gave us a rundown of some of our association’s plans to increase the value of membership and more actively engage members. Here are some highlights:


  • Editors Canada plans to launch its rebranded website later this year and is looking for volunteers to beta test.
  • The association held its first monthly Twitter chat about certification in October, and the topic for November will be finding work and networking. Join in on November 3 at 4 pm PST and follow along with the #EditorsChat hashtag.
  • A private Facebook group has been set up for Editors Canada members.
  • The committee that publishes our magazine, Active Voice, hopes to create a hard copy in April and possibly another in September or October.

Professional development

  • A task force has been struck to develop a national mentoring program, modelled on the Toronto branch’s successful program and named in honour of the late John Eerkes-Medrano.
  • Editors Canada hopes to start offering webinars (three in the year ahead) so that members living outside of Canada’s major centres will have more professional development opportunities.
  • A central repository of professional development ideas has been proposed.
  • Editors Canada launched the third edition Editing Canadian English this past year, along with the companion Editorial Niches volume. Members at yesterday’s meeting suggested having Editors Canada publications available for sale at local branch meetings and seminars.

Member support

  • In the works is a welcome package for new members and a toolkit to support new branches and twigs.
  • A membership survey is planned for the spring, and exit surveys are planned to find out why people who don’t renew their memberships choose to leave the organization.
  • The Online Director of Editors now has its own direct link: findaneditor.ca
  • The national job board will be revamped. Once it is relaunched, employers and clients will no longer have to pay to post a job.
  • Student affiliates will have a new committee to champion student issues.
  • The Standard Freelance Editorial Agreement is being updated.
  • The NEC is also aware of—and aims to solve—server problems affecting affected people with editors.ca addresses.

Standards and certification

Vacancies on committees

Volunteering allows you to build network with colleagues across the country and add skills to your CV. Editors Canada is seeking volunteers for the following committees:

  • nominations committee
  • member services committee
  • communications and marketing committee
  • publications committee
  • standards task force
  • awards committee


At the next NEC meeting, planned for November in Ottawa, the executive will take the first steps to draft a new five-year strategic plan. The plan we have now will expire in 2016–2017.

Indexing Society of Canada and Editors’ Association of Canada conferences 2014—personal highlights

I’m back from four and a half days in Toronto, where I attended ISC’s and EAC’s national conferences. As in previous years, I’ll be posting summaries of some of the talks I attended—a process that, as I’ve learned, will take me several weeks. Both conferences were excellent, featuring a variety of sessions that appealed to novices as well as seasoned pros and that tackled not only the technical aspects of indexing and editing but also the business side of freelancing. Best of all was being able to see old friends and pick up conversations as if no time had passed, as well as meeting new colleagues and putting faces to names.

My days were packed: I had the privilege of introducing indexing superstar Enid Zafran at her talk about indexer–author relations at the ISC conference, and at the EAC conference I ran a two-part senior editors’ unconference: at a lunchtime session on Saturday, editors shouted out topics they wanted to discuss. I recorded the topics on a flip chart, then, with the help of sticky dots, the editors voted on their favourite ones. I ranked the topics based on votes and created our discussion agenda for our session on Sunday. It was impossible to get through all fourteen of the proposed topics, and it would have been great to have more time, but in general I thought the format worked reasonably well. It also helped that we had a great group; I’m consistently amazed by how much can happen when you just get a bunch of smart people talking to each other about what they know.

The highlight of my week, though, was the EAC banquet. Not only did we learn from Moira White that EAC has established a new award—for a person or organization that has helped advance the editing profession—in memory of our late friend Karen Virag, but we also saw Certification Steering Committee co-chairs Anne Brennan and Janice Dyer acknowledged for their enormous volunteer contributions to the association. Both won the President’s Award for Volunteer service—a well-deserved and long-overdue recognition of the hours and hours and hours of work they put into steering the certification program. Congratulations go out to all the President’s Award winners, including Lee d’Anjou Award–winning volunteer of the year, Michelle Boulton. (Just as note to the national executive, I would have loved to hear what these fantastic volunteers had done for EAC, not just their names! Please consider a giving one-sentence summary of each volunteer’s contributions at next year’s banquet.)

Congratulations, also, of course, to Claudette Upton Scholarship winner Daniel Polowin, and to University of Alberta Press’s Peter Midgley, who finally, finally received the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence he so deserves.

For me, the most exciting part of the evening was being able to present, on behalf of the Certification Steering Committee, designations of Honorary Certified Professional Editor to six pioneers of EAC’s certification program. Without them, the program simply wouldn’t exist. As someone who’s benefited tremendously from certification, both as a CPE and as a CSC member who’s had the privilege to work for the past two and half years with some of the most brilliant, funniest people I know, I want to thank and congratulate these champions, mentors, and friends for their dedication: Lee d’Anjou, Peter Moskos, Maureen Nicholson, Jonathan Paterson, Frances Peck, and Ruth Wilson. I would not be where I am today without them.

If anyone has any photos of the presentation they could send me, I’d be grateful for them. Believe me—the amount of restraint it took to keep from spilling the beans about this surprise was enormous!

Editors’ Association of Canada certification news

As a member of the EAC’s Certification Steering Committee, I should publicize a couple of important certification-related items:

1) Pilot test takers needed

We’d like to recruit a few more EAC members to pilot the Proofreading and Structural Editing certification tests. If you’ve got at least five years’ editing experience and are willing to study for the test as if you were genuinely taking it, consider volunteering.

Pilot tests take place in Vancouver (at SFU Harbour Centre), Toronto (at the EAC National Office), and Ottawa (at the Travel Lodge Hotel on Carling Avenue) on Saturday, September 15. Proofreading runs from 10 am to 1 pm, and Structural Editing runs from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

If you’re thinking about taking certification tests in the future, writing the pilot will give you a practice run, and you’ll get a free copy of the study guide (a $55 value) for whichever test you pilot. For those of you who are already certified but needing to maintain your credentials, studying for and writing a pilot test will count towards your credential maintenance points.

If you’re interested, please get in touch with Helena Aalto.

2) Registration open for proofreading and structural editing tests

The actual certification tests will be held Saturday, November 17, in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. Proofreading runs from 10 am to 1 pm, and Structural Editing runs from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

These tests are open to both EAC members and non-members. For more information about certification or to register online, visit the certification website.

EAC certification

Last evening’s EAC-BC meeting featured a presentation by my fellow Certification Steering Committee members Ann-Marie Metten, Lana Okerlund, and Anne Brennan about dispelling the myths surrounding EAC’s certification program. I started off trying to take some notes so that I could post them here but found that I wasn’t engaged in the same way as I was for some past sessions, because I wasn’t hearing anything I hadn’t heard before and, of course, I’d already been through the process. So perhaps the best way I can contribute to the discussion is to say a few things about my experience and offer some (unabashedly biased) thoughts about the certification program.

When I began working in book publishing, my mentors at D&M Publishers were Nancy Flight and Lucy Kenward—unquestionably two of the best editors in the country. That position gave me extraordinary training and a deep respect for high editorial standards. But it was also enough to give me a serious case of impostor syndrome. A few years in, I wanted to prove—mostly to myself but also to my employer—that I was worth my salt as an editor, and the certification program provided a terrific opportunity to validate my skills.

I feel fortunate that I had experience working in an intense in-house environment in book publishing: I did all of my proofreading and much of my copy editing on paper, meaning I was very familiar with markup, and I dealt day to day with other members of the publishing team and so felt I had a solid grounding in the publishing process. I hear from other certified editors who had never worked in a publishing house that those were two of the most challenging aspects of the certification tests for them.

So I signed up for the knowledge of publishing process and the copy-editing tests (when they were divided that way) in 2008. I worked through the copy-editing study guide, reviewed the Professional Editorial Standards, read through Editing Canadian English, and over a few weeks ended up reading Chicago cover to cover (and in the process discovered stuff I’d been doing wrong for years!).

That year was the first time the certification program offered the structural and stylistic test, and I didn’t feel up to it quite yet. In 2009, knowing that only five candidates had passed that exam the previous year, I registered for it (along with the proofreading test) but mentally prepared myself to write it twice if I needed to; I was fully expecting to fail the first time and was going to use that as a learning experience in preparing for my second kick at the can. As luck would have it, I didn’t need one, and I attained my Certified Professional Editor designation in spring 2010.

To prepare for my last two tests, I again worked through the respective study guides and reread the Professional Editorial Standards. Nervous about the structural and stylistic test, I also dedicated time to doing the substantive editing exercises in Meeting Editorial Standards (now Meeting Professional Editorial Standards) and, on Nancy Flight’s recommendation, read Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams—an extraordinarily lucid read that I would highly recommend. If I had to offer any advice to prospective certification candidates, it would be:

  • to know the Professional Editorial Standards. This is key, as the exams are made to test those specific competencies.
  • to work through the study guides, which are very good exemplars of the tests. In each of them you get not only a practice test and a marking guide but also a sample test of a candidate that had passed the test and another that had failed, allowing you to get a good sense of what to prioritize.

I wish I’d internalized more from the experience (particularly the reading of Chicago, for example), but I can say that the process of studying for certification certainly made me a more conscientious, attentive editor. One of my colleagues asked me why, as an in-house editor, I decided to become certified, since I couldn’t really capitalize on the marketing advantage of being a CPE. At that point, my role in the company had grown from simply editing to developing editorial systems and communicating with freelancers. Being certified gave me the confidence to talk to our freelance editors—some of them veterans of the profession—as their equal. And now that I’ve gone freelance, I am that much more grateful that I’ve gone through the process and can easily prove to prospective clients that I am offering good value.

My commitment to the certification program runs deep; I have a vested interest in seeing my designation retain its value. I was involved in developing the framework for credential maintenance, and I’m now a member of the Certification Steering Committee. Although I’m not required to do any credential maintenance activities, I will anyway, because certification, to me, is not an end-point—it’s an extra motivator to keep learning.

If you’re considering certification and have any questions about my experiences or about the program, feel free to get in touch with me, and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities.