Facebook and list mania
If you are on Facebook, you will almost certainly have friends who have completed the list of 25 random facts about themselves and invited you to do the same. It’s like a chain letter. *
Highly unlikely as it is that you have any interest in random personal facts about a paunchy drudge about to turn 58, I am offering you 25 facts about editing.
1. The project will require three times the planned time to achieve one-third of the desired result (McIntyre’s Ratio).
2. Writers will never straighten out it’s and its.
3. No matter how many times an article is edited or proofed, some reader will find a mistake in it.
4. To reporters, all deadlines are fungible.
5. Percentages will have been miscalculated 42 percent of the time.
6. Stories move to the copy desk early or on time only on the eve of a holiday, when the writers and assigning editors are eager to get out of the building.
7. The error no one spots will be in the big type.
8. The Associated Press Stylebook is a set of guidelines, not scripture.
9. The publisher is always right.
10. The statement of fact you don’t check will turn out to be wrong.
11. Whom is on the way out, but it’s not gone yet.
12. A thesaurus in a reporter’s hand is like a pistol in a toddler’s.
13. You can cut any text by 10 percent without anyone noticing.
14. You can cut any text by 25 percent and probably should.
15. A writer’s ego is like a Venetian blown-glass ball: huge, gorgeous and fragile.
16. No one outside a university philosophy department knows any longer what beg the question means.
17. Most of the errors in grammar and usage that readers complain of are not errors.
18. Over time, you will become acquainted with the limitations of all your fellow editors.
19. Over time, all your fellow editors will become acquainted with your limitations.
20. Most pairs of dashes could, and should, be replaced with commas.
21. There will never be enough time to do what ought to be done.
22. You are allowed three exclamation points in your entire career.
23. You will be hampered by idiosyncratic and idiotic decrees by long-gone managers.
24. Editing is just about the most fun you can have legally.
25. Don’t expect gratitude.
* As far as I can tell from the sampling among my own Facebook friends, it seems to attract, um, the mature. Perhaps they just have more to tell about themselves, having lived longer. But now that Facebook is being populated by codgers and coots like me, how long before the young people find somewhere else to go?