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The TWEED Blog Has Moved

August 19, 2010

Come visit TWEED’s blog, now integrated into TWEEDediting.com proper.

Shhhhh: Silently Altering Quoted Material

August 9, 2010

Sometimes quotes just don’t want to fit within the structure of our sentences. Unless you are in a legal field, some sciences, or writing for a UK publisher, you can silently tame quoted material in a number of permissible ways. This means that you don’t have to flag your insertions, deletions, and changes by using brackets, ellipses, or footnotes. I’ll break the rules down by major academic style guide.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, § 11.8

OK to change silently:

  • case of quotation’s first letter (“paradigms of excellence” to “Paradigms of excellence,” for instance)
  • single quotation marks to double, and vice versa
  • final punctuation that doesn’t fit the grammar of your own sentence, except question marks, exclamation marks, semicolons, colons, and dashes that are not original to the quotation—these must be placed outside the quotation marks
  • endnote and footnote callouts (they can be omitted in quotation)
  • Fraktur and archaic letters (“goodneʃs” to “goodness” and “Vnited” to “United,” for example)

Not OK to change silently:

  • omitted material (use ellipses)
  • inserted material (enclose in brackets)
  • added emphasis, usually expressed in italics (note by inserting “emphasis added” in brackets after the quote)
  • clarifications (“he [James] spoke of troubled times”)

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, § 3.7

OK to change silently:

  • closing punctuation (quoted material woven into the end of your own declarative sentence can take a period even if not in the original)

Not OK to change silently:

  • basically everything else: capitalization, spelling, interior punctuation, omissions, additions, emphasis, inserted explanations

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, § 6.07

OK to change silently:

  • case of quotation’s first letter (“Diamond in the rough” can be changed to “diamond in the rough,” or vice versa)
  • end punctuation (original material ending in a period can be presented as ending in a comma, for instance)
  • single quotation marks to double quotation marks (and double to single)

Not OK to change silently:

  • additions
  • deletions
  • emphasis
  • inserted clarifications

Thus, those in literature (MLA users) are more restricted than those in history, religious studies, and the social sciences (APA and Chicago users). Note that Chicago is a bit more thorough than APA, so APA users may consider following the Chicago rules where APA is vague.

Chicago also embraces what I think is a magnanimous gesture: silently correcting obvious typographical errors. This is preferred to the potentially discourteous use of [sic] to point out the errors of those gone before. (Sic is a Latin term meaning “as such.”) Most of us would rather that others not point out our (or our publisher’s!) errors when quoting us down the line, so be generous when you quote others. Be sure, however, that you are not altering an intentionally unconventional construction or the idiosyncracies of earlier historical moments!

The bottom line is that you always want to be sure that you are reproducing quoted material in good faith—that is, that you are not intentionally or even inadvertently changing the meaning of the original source. But you also want to keep your reader’s eye moving, unobstructed by needless jarring brackets. Always be judicious in your handling of quoted material. Think of those around you: the author of the borrowed material and your reader both.

Parenthe-seize the Divided List!

August 7, 2010

Divided Lists

When we write a list within a sentence, we often want to make the structure absolutely clear by numbering or lettering the items in the series. For students and junior scholars, the divided list is even more important, as it is the well-known writers who can assume that their readers won’t abandon overly complex, understructured passages.

When dividing a list, make sure that:

  • numbers or letters appear within a set of parentheses (rather than simply following the number or letter with one parenthesis)
  • elements are grammatically parallel (all nouns, for instance)
  • appropriate punctuational dividers are used
  • the imposed structure illuminates rather than obscures meaning
  • the divisions do not unintentionally imply hierarchy

That itself could be formatted as a divided list within a sentence:

The key aspects of serializing are the following: (1) numbers or letters appear within a set of parentheses; (2) elements are grammatically parallel; (3) appropriate punctuational dividers are used; (4) the imposed structure illuminates rather than obscures meaning; and (5) the divisions do not unintentionally imply hierarchy.

Let’s say that Michel Foucault wanted to make this complicated sentence a bit more organized to the reading eye:

Bentham’s Panopticon is the architectural figure of this composition. We know the principle on which it was based: at the periphery, an annular building; at the centre, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building; they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; the other, on the outer side, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other.

—Discipline and Punish (New York: Vintage, 1995), 200

We might insert letters thusly:

Bentham’s Panopticon is the architectural figure of this composition. We know the principle on which it was based: (a) at the periphery, an annular building; (b) at the centre, a tower; (c) this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; (d) the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building; (e) they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; (f) the other, on the outer side, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other.

We’ve chosen letters as opposed to numbers so as not to imply a hierarchy. Numbers would work as well, however, as they might in this example:

It is opposed, therefore, term by term, to a judicial penality whose essential function is to refer, not to a set of observable phenomena, but to a corpus of laws and texts that must be remembered; that operates not by differentiating individuals, but by specifying acts according to a number of general categories; not by hierarchizing, but quite simply by bringing into play the binary opposition of the permitted and the forbidden; not by homogenizing, but by operating the division, acquired once and for all, of condemnation.

—Discipline and Punish, 183

This passage can be structured in the following way:

It is opposed, therefore, term by term, to a judicial penality (1) whose essential function is to refer, not to a set of observable phenomena, but to a corpus of laws and texts that must be remembered; (2) that operates not by differentiating individuals, but by specifying acts according to a number of general categories; (3) not by hierarchizing, but quite simply by bringing into play the binary opposition of the permitted and the forbidden; (4) not by homogenizing, but by operating the division, acquired once and for all, of condemnation.

Now we can see clearly that he mentions four qualities of the “penality” in question. If this were our own writing, we would probably also want to impose some parallelism so that each item in the series has the same grammatical structure (beginning with that, perhaps), but, as this is the inimitable Foucault we’re dealing with, we’ll leave it as is.

The following list is made much clearer by its use of numbered divisions:

Machines (1) are made up of parts, (2) give particulate information about the world, (3) are based on order and regularity (perform operations in an ordered sequence), (4) operate in a limited, precisely defined domain of the total context, and (5) give us power over nature.

—Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1989), 234

Here we see that a complex divided list need not be separated by semicolons, even when items contain internal commas. The decision whether to use semicolons or commas is a subjective one.

One could, as Judith Butler does, foreshadow the number of elements in a divided list.

This Lacanian trajectory will be shown to become problematic on (at least) two counts: (1) the morphological scheme which becomes the epistemic condition for the world of objects and others to appear is marked as masculine, and, hence, becomes the basis for an anthropocentric and androcentric epistemological imperialism (this is one criticism of Lacan offered by Luce Irigaray and supplies the compelling reason for her project to articulate a feminine imaginary); and (2) the idealization of the body as a center of control sketched in “The Mirror Stage” is rearticulated in Lacan’s notion of the phallus as that which controls significations in discourse, in “The Signification of the Phallus” (1958).

Bodies That Matter (New York: Routledge, 1993), 73

Clearly, the complexity of Butler’s prose makes the numbering rather useful. The structure would have been buried if not for the divisions. She actually has the option, since each problematic “count” is an independent clause and then some, to separate the elements with periods rather than using her colon-semicolon approach. See, for example, what Claude Lévi-Strauss has done here:

Let me recall, then, some of the conclusions that were reached about the skunk in The Raw and the Cooked. (1) In both North and South America, this member of the family of the mustelidae and the opossum form a pair of opposites. (2) North American myths expressly associate the opossum with the rotten, the skunk with the burnt. At the same time, the skunk is shown to have a direct affinity with the rainbow and has the power to resuscitate the dead. (3) In South America, on the other hand…

From Honey to Ashes (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 80

The list continues from there. Each numbered element contains at least one complete sentence.

Armed with the five key issues to remember and informed by these admittedly verbose examples, out we go into the wide world, where we will divide lists with skill and glee.


TWEED Does Documentation

July 29, 2010

You already know how important documentation is for academic writing. You want to give credit where credit is due, leave breadcrumbs for readers interested in following up on sources you used, and simply produce professional-looking writing. All of these aims are achieved by thorough, consistent, and clear documentation.

Good news! TWEED does Cite Management: editing, formatting, and wrangling your source documentation. Taking care of footnotes, parenthetical citations, and reference lists can all be so frustrating and time-consuming. Documentation is one area of scholarly writing that can be rather easily delegated to a professional, and doing so ultimately saves you a bundle in time, energy, and sanity.

You can hand the documentation portion of your writing projects over to TWEED. What’s vexing you?

  • Generating a bibliography, reference list, or works cited page from sources cited in your main-body text
  • Formatting citations: parenthetical, footnotes, endnotes
  • Managing subsequent notes: shortened references and instances of Ibid.
  • Locating proper citation paradigms for tricky sources: public documents, legal works, unpublished manuscripts, and online content
  • Handling ethnographic research
  • Elegantly combining citations and substantive notes
  • Formatting bibliographies (single-spaced but with double spacing between entries?!)
  • Double-checking references created by citation software (these programs make mistakes—and they rely on information being correctly input into their databases first)

All major scholarly citation styles are supported: Chicago, MLA, and APA.

TWEED can also standardize the treatment of headings and subheadings throughout your document(s), create tables of contents, and implement complex page numbering systems.

Hand over your thorniest, most tangled documentation projects! You’ll be relieved to be free of them, and TWEED will present you with professionally formatted citations and source lists tailored specifically to your work and your needs. Fast turnaround times are possible.

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TWEED offers services and packages for all your academic editing needs.

TWEED Dissertation-to-Book Guide No. 4: The Curious Beasts That Are Scholarly Presses & Acquisitions Editors

July 21, 2010

New TWEED Dissertation-to-Book Guide! We’re really getting down to the side of things that you’re most curious about: connecting with publishers and seeing your project in print.

Last time, we discussed in detail the process of revising a dissertation for publication as a book. Now, Guide No. 4: The Curious Beasts That Are Scholarly Presses & Acquisitions Editors introduces the backgrounds and modi operandi of publishing gatekeepers and helps you find a good match for your manuscript.

Stay tuned, of course, for the next installment, Guide No. 5: Inquiring Minds Want to Propose!

Guide No. 1, A Dissertation is an Auspicious Beginning, is available here. Guide No. 2 is Envisioning Your Dissertation as Something Else Entirely.

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TWEED offers services and packages for all your academic editing needs.

TWEED Dissertation-to-Book Guide No. 3: Revising Your Manuscript

June 23, 2010

Revising Your Dissertation

It’s here! Again, for the First Time: Revising Your Dissertation is the third installment in TWEED’s Dissertation-to-Book series of guides.

The longest guide yet, this issue tackles five stages of revising your dissertation for publication:

  • Crafting a concept
  • Conducting extra research
  • Paring down
  • Organizing the material that remains
  • Polishing your style

You’ll begin to see your dissertation project in narrative terms and identify not only its concept but also its main characters and plot. No matter the subject, all scholarly books can capitalize on strategies normally associated with literature and creative nonfiction. Seriously.

Crack open Again, for the First Time: Revising Your Dissertation for some macro- and micro-level advice aimed at the junior scholar eager to publish.

Next up, The Curious Beasts that are Scholarly Presses & Acquisitions Editors! You’ll read about identifying publishers for your project and approaching them with savvy and excellent timing.

Guide No. 1, A Dissertation is an Auspicious Beginning, is available here. Guide No. 2 is Envisioning Your Dissertation as Something Else Entirely.

And have a look at TWEED’s complete library of resources.

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TWEED offers services and packages for all your academic editing needs.

Distraction-free Word Processors

June 21, 2010

WriteRoom and Dark Room are distraction-free word processors for Mac and PC, respectively. The advantage is that these programs are full-screen, meaning that you can’t see your other programs. No more email messages popping up and interrupting your flow. No quick switching between IM and your scholarly article.

You can change the color scheme, but the default looks like working in the Matrix! They’re also both free applications.

What other programs or technological do you use to stay productive?

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TWEED offers services and packages for all your academic editing needs.