Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#31)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip # 31 Choosing A Title

Often an editor will find herself/himself involved in choosing the perfect title for a book. Sometimes this will be controversial. Sometimes the controversial choice will be the right one.

A case in point is Alison Wearing’s new book Confessions Of A Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up With A Gay Dad. Many people will recoil from this title. But the chances are that they will not want to read the book, excellent though it is. So the title serves as fair warning for potential readers.


Tip #29: Partial to Partial

Because the adjective “partial” implies “fond of” or even “biased towards,” the adverb “partially” should not be used as a synonym for “partly.”

In fact, “partly” should be the editor’s choice every time, unless bias is specifically involved, and implied. So, no more buildings “partially destroyed” by a great wind, please.


One comment on “Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#31)

  1. Leslie Nadon says:

    Thank you, Douglas for these tips. I think I told you I was writing a book about my three children/young adults who had CF – cystic fibrosis. They were featured in news headlines, front page – third page – 1/2 to full page articles, 10 feature stories between 1970 and 2006 in our local newspaper. The CF Gene was found in our family. I have permission from a co-discoverer of the gene to use any information related to the Genome project which does talk about our family as we were one of only two families in the world to meet all the research criteria. However, I have had quite a battle with the newspaper, because they will not allow me to use any of “their” info, which they got from me. I have gone back and forth with their “copyright” department and we finally agreed to leave it up to the publisher to go back and forth with them on what is acceptable. I am being careful what I write. I do know that there is a VERY fine line here, but certainly reading your tip about it has me thinking about it again. You were right when you said you thought we would meet again, although you will probably be too busy to talk to me. Still, I am making arrangements to go to Toronto to see the “Al Purdy Show” and am looking forward to having a mini-vacation in Toronto Feb 6/7. Once again, thank you for your advice. I don’t answer every one of your posts, but I do read all your tips,

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