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Editors could learn from Apple

One of the trickiest situations in editing arises when dealing with a writer who is stubbornly wrongheaded about grammar, usage, or the merits of his novel metaphors.

Now, thanks to a post on Language Log, we learn how Apple prohibits its employees from using certain “stop” words with customers. Unfortunate, for example, is out. As it turns out is what Apple recommends. That would be handy in editing.

But the really useful sentence, the big prize, is “That’s not recommended.” That, a former Apple employee is quoted as saying, is how to respond when a customer has gone swimming with his iPod, instead of saying “That was really stupid.”

I’m endorsing “That’s not recommended” for immediate use by all my fellow editors.

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 2:00 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Comments

In Evelyn Waugh's novel "Scoop," an editor has to deal with the paper's owner, a man prone to sweepingly wrong statements. Whenever the owner makes one, the editor says, "Up to a point."

Once while shopping for running shoes with my wife, I asked a teenage salesman about my wife's theory that shoes vary slightly in size according to their country of origin. The boy said, "To an extent."

I'm going to make keyboard shortcuts in Word of the following phrases:

that turns out not to be the case
as it turns out
that’s not recommended
to an extent

They're going to come in very handy.

I'm sure there's much in what you say, but ...

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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