Some Things You Just Gotta Know


Years ago, I worked for a team of editors who hired someone from another department in the company. It became clear pretty quickly that the newly minted editor was out of his element — not the born wordsmith his colleagues were.

Like those other editors, he would send me, the copy editor, an email to tell me when an article was waiting to be reviewed in a shared computer folder.
But, whereas the others would tell me there was a story waiting for me in the queue, he would report he’d sent me something in the “cue.”

Some things you’ve just got to know. If you’ve heard the expression “eek out a living,” you’re not going to check your dictionary to see if that’s a valid definition of “eek.” Only by having read and noted, either consciously or subconsciously, that the correct term is “eke out a living,” would you understand that “eek” is an error.

My recent column looks at some other things that, as I’ve learned in my editing career, you’ve just got to know: ordnance, till, sleight and why you shouldn’t use a serial comma before an ampersand even if you use a serial comma before “and.”

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