Sunday, December 25, 2005

Copy Editor, anyone?

The following is an email I sent to PSM, a PlayStation-centric magazine that apparently has no one at the helm of the copy editing department. Enjoy my dissection of their crappy magazine, and if any of you employers out there appreciate this kind of attention to detail, feel free to offer me a job. :)

Mark Buckingham

- Hide quoted text -
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mark Buckingham <>
Date: Dec 25, 2005 12:21 PM
Subject: Copy Editor position


I'd like to submit my resume for the position of Copy Editor for PSM (it can be found at The position MUST be vacant given the sheer number of heinous grammatical and mechanics errors in the magazine. Below are just a few excerpts, the most obvious offenders. I'll forgive more minor infractions for the sake of actually finishing this email sometime today.

All excerpts taken from PSM Issue 104, December 2005

On The Cover
Wrong: "8-pages of screens & info!"
Right: For one thing, never start a sentence (or fragment) with a number; spell it out. For another, spell out numbers less than 10. For yet another, that hyphen doesn't belong there. Now if you said "Eight-page section of screens & info!" that would be correct.

Page 16
DMC3:SE preview
Wrong: "We are the lover of it."
Right: "We are the lovers of it." or simply "We love it."

Ryu Ga Gotoku preview
Wrong: "...a very Shenmue-like budget (20 million!)..."
Right: 20 million what? Yen? Dollars? Rupees? Twenty million in Yen or Pesos is a lot less in Dollars, Pounds, or Euros, so it's important to specify.

Page 22
MGS4 preview
Wrong: "That, and the true power of PS3. Not only to make better looking games, but games that feel 100% totally alive."
Ok, you've got a bunch of fragments here, redundancy, and misuse of conjunctions.
"...he'd be showing us the most amazing videogame we've ever seen, as well as the true power of the PS3, power used not only to make better looking games, but [also] games that feel (use 100% or totally, not both) alive.

Wrong:" utterly decimated urban environment..."
Decimation is when 1/10th of a population is killed. I'm not sure you can "kill" urban environments, but pretending for a moment that killing equals destroying, it looked like a lot more than one-tenth of the surroundings had been damaged to a great degree. Also, it's widely accepted that decimation can only be done to a group of people, not structures and environment.

Wrong: "war-ravage city"
Right: "war-ravaged city"

Page 23
Wrong: "Yes: disarmed."
Right: "Yes, disarmed." (nevermind the fact that it is a fragment)

Page 24
You didn't bother to italicize MGS2 in the same sentence that you DID remember to italicize MGS4.

Page 36
GTA figures
Wrong: world-wide
Right: worldwide

Page 38
Wrong: dwindle down (redundant)
Right: dwindle

Page 40
Wrong: "...because it's a balance, you know?"
Right: "...because it's a balance."
Tagging "you know?" on there weakens your position as an industry authority. Besides, it's not a conversation wherein the other party could say, "Yes, I do know."

Page 48
PoP: Revelations preview
Wrong: puzzle-solving
Right: puzzle solving
There are uses where the hyphen belongs. This was not one of them.

Wrong: noobs
Right: n00bs
Ask any leet-speaker; those Os become zeros.

Wrong: "...appears about a fourth of the way..."
Right: "...appears about one-fourth of the way..."

Page 49
Wrong: stalagtite
Right: stalagmite (from the floor up) or stalactite (from the ceiling down)
"Stalagtite" isn't a word. It doesn't exist. Beyond that, pick the one that accurately represents from which direction these mineral deposits are growing.

Wrong: the air spirt
Right: the air spirit

Wrong: "...seeing as how its lacking..."
Right: "...seeing as how it's lacking..."

Page 52
Wrong: "A third person [game]..."
Right: " A third-person [game]..."

Wrong: Rampant misuse of dashes in the 50 Cent: Bulletproof preview.
Right: I'd have to redo the whole paragraph, and I'm not going to bother till you start paying me.

Page 54
Don't end a paragraph—let alone an entire article—with an ellipsis.

Page 56
Wrong: "...fatherless, sister-less..."
Right: "...fatherless, sisterless..."
If nothing else, at least be consistent!

Page 61
Wrong: pre loaded
Right: pre-loaded
"Pre" is not a word.

Wrong: Technological tinkers
Right: Technological tinkerers

Wrong: (fan created) software
Right: (fan-created) software

Wrong: "...the hole were supposedly plugged..."
Right: "...the holes were supposedly plugged..." or "...the hole was supposedly plugged..."

Wrong: web sites
Right: Web sites
The words "Web" and "Internet" are always capitalized when referring to that wide-area network we all connect to for info, gaming, rumors, and porn.

Wrong: " looked at as opening the door wide open for PSP game piracy..."
Right: " looked at as opening the door wide for PSP game piracy..." or " looked at as kicking the door wide open for PSP game piracy..."

Wrong: You started a parenthesis at the end of the page, but never closed it.
Right: Close it.

Page 62
Wrong: "Games They're made without budgets..."
Right: "Games that are made without budgets..."
You guys managed to miss improper capitalization AND word choice. Bravo. It also appears the text bolding was turned off after "$50" in the pic text box for Homebrew Games.

Page 66
The last half of the second intro paragraph here uses semicolons to separate elements in a list. Problem is that it's not done consistently. However, the bigger problem is that you shouldn't be doing it here in the first place. List items should be divided if they have internal punctuation that would cause confusion otherwise, like commas within list items. The comma used in this paragraph doesn't work that way and should have been a semicolon for consistency's sake, but then, they all should have been commas all along.

Page 67
Wrong: "...they'll know to try and grab it..."
Right: "...they'll know to try to grab it..."

That's about half the magazine, and my mind reels in agony and frustration. If you want me to go on, I can grind my teeth and continue, but I'd rather not. I'd say there's enough evidence here to support my case.

Bear in mind that for at least some portion of your readership, PSM is the ONLY thing they will bother to actually read (Books? What are those?). Aside from the fact that you pose yourself as a professional publication and should naturally adhere to a higher standard for language construction and accuracy than you presently do, if these are the only words some readers set their eyes on, they're learning two important things from PSM:

1. Poor language usage governed by virtually no rules and sloppy execution.

2. It's not important how you represent yourself in print.

I know you write to a third-grade mentality/reading level and don't expect them to notice or care about this, but they will remember it and refer to this as something that "professionals" do, and therefore must be correct.

Clean up your act. Show some pride in your work. If you need help, give me a call. Your mission statement posits that "[We will] never settle for 'just okay' with anything we do." Yeah, right.

Mark Buckingham

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