Moira Dann, Editor of the Facts and Arguments page of
The Globe and Mail,
graciously answered the 12 questions posed by the students on her editing
decisions. The original piece, written by their teacher, Brad Hyde, was
edited and then published on April 11, 2000. All agreed that this was an
interesting and valuable class exercise. Ms. Dann's comments are in italics
below each question, following a copy of the original and edited versions.
Learning the Edits, a piece on this class
Original Version; Edited
1. In paragraphs three and four, why did she take off the capitals on
the names of certain programs? (The students felt it would have been
easier to read with capitals.)
Moira Dann's Version: (* where caps removed)
Always in search of new challenges, John returned to school and became
a *vocational rehabilitation counsellor* in the early '80s. At the WCB, he
implemented a job-sharing agreement that took nearly 10 years to achieve,
mentored new employees, helped establish parental leave, served as union
director from 1986 to 1996, and instituted the *employee family assistance
program*. But John was most proud of developing and piloting the first
*disability management program* for WCB employees, a project he likened to
making shoes for a barefoot shoemaker.
**The following paragraph kept the capitals, thus their confusion.
There are 10 pages of rules about capitalization in the 425-plus
page Globe and Mail style guide. Generally, things are more often lower
case, such as 'titles of officers in companies, clubs and organizations'
(vocational rehabilitation counsellor) as are programs, but 'upper case
for proper names of elected or appointed bodies.' (Victoria's Advisory
Planning Commission' and organizations with legal identities (Vancouver
2. Why did you make the change from the late sixties to the late 1960s?
A decade is spelled out and capitalized if referred to as an era
(the swinging Sixties), but figures, including the century, are used if
that's not the case.
3. The change made to the last sentence of the final paragraph where
the word "again" was moved sounds strange and splits the
infinitive verb. Why was it changed?
Brad's Version: Many of us would give anything to pick up the phone
again to the words, "John here".
Moira Dann's Version: Many of us would give anything to again pick up
the phone to the words, "John here."
That's me. Since the phrasal verb 'pick up' is very powerful in this
sentence, I preferred to get the modifiers in before it, even if it splits
the infinitive (an overrated rule). I thought the change made the sentence
more powerful and poetic. Editor's prerogative.
4. The students were curious about the insertion of the word
"but" in first position replacing "however". What was
the reason? Often, they are instructed never to do this in their grammar
classes and texts.
Brad's Version: John was most proud, however, of developing and
piloting the first Disability Management Program for WCB employees, a
project he likened to making shoes for a barefooted shoemaker.
Moira Dann's Version: But John was most proud of developing and
piloting the first disability management program for WCB employees, a
project he likened to making shoes for a barefoot shoemaker.
Me again. I hate "however' breaking up a sentence to
essentially insert a conditional phrase/idea. I want to know right off the
top that's what it is. And Globe style goes for 'barefoot' over
'barefooted,' although both are correct.
5. She took out a whole section on the ceremony and the building
service worker anecdote. Why? If it was to make it shorter, why did she
choose that section to omit?
At the celebration of John's life, many spoke, recounting their stories
to the over 400 people who attended. His union president told of a
building service worker who had taken him aside to say that John had
always stopped for a chat, treating him with the same respect as his
When deciding what to cut, my question to myself is this: Is this
about the subject's life or the subject's death? I want the former. And I
ask if it's original in perception and utterance. This paragraph talked in
generalities about the celebration of life, a new cliché replacement for
memorial service. The union president anecdote repeated (with insufficient
detail) ideas expressed earlier about the subject's 'integrity and
6. In paragraph 4, why did she change the order from first the place
then date to the date first and then the place?
Brad's Version: University drew John to Ottawa in the late sixties
Moira Dann's Version: University drew John in the late 1960s to
Because I knew I would have to change 'sixties' to numbers, and I
hate ending a sentence on a numeral - it can be mistaken for computer
7. She changed a number of that's and which's. Why was this? (occurs
frequently; perhaps just restate the style rule for them; I'm terrible
with this, obviously)
These words are both used to start relative clauses. 'That' is used
for defining clauses - those without commas fore and aft - and relaying
information needed to identify the person or thing being discussed.
"Which' is used for non-defining clauses, with commas fore and aft,
and imparts additional info about the one person or thing we already know
is under discussion. I have to look this one up regularly, but my fast
check is the sentence's demand for commas.
8. Why the placement of the apostrophe in '80s? (rather than between
the 0 and s)
The apostrophe before '80s replaces the numbers signifying the
century. And there's no apostrophe needed in making a word/number plural.
9. What about using "only" instead of "just" in the
seventh paragraph. Why this change?
Brad's Version: Just weeks before he died
Moira Dann's Version: Only weeks before his death
The first meaning of the adverb 'just' in the dictionary isn't 'as
recently as' it's 'precisely, exactly, only a moment ago.' I find the word
'only' more precise.
10. Why did she omit "always busy" and join the two sentences
in the final paragraph? The students felt the meaning was changed by this.
Brad's Version: John lived well and was quick to appreciate life's
gifts. Always busy, he made time for the people he loved.
Moira Dann's Version: John lived well and was quick to appreciate
life's gifts, making time for the people he loved.
Paragraph 5 already said 'despite a busy schedule' I didn't have
room to repeat the idea. I disagree that the use of the gerund alters the
meaning of the sentence.
11. Why the semicolon after schedule rather than use of two sentences?
(They didn't comment on the omitted words, but would you for me?)
Brad's Version: John found time for his community, and despite a busy
schedule, he touched many lives. He helped repair the Vancouver Rape
Relief shelter for women and participated on Victoria's Advisory Planning
Moira Dann's Version: John found time for his community despite a busy
schedule; he helped repair the Vancouver Rape Relief shelter for women and
participated on Victoria's Advisory Planning Commission.
Always the quest for space - punctuation takes less space than does
a word. I wanted to eliminate the phrase 'he touched many lives' because
it is a cliché in this kind of writing and it tells us what the next
sentence shows us. I prefer details to generalities.
12. The change from "though" to "although" in
paragraph 6. Why was this done?
Brad's Version: He'll always be remembered for his cupboards, which
never quite fit, though they went up with amazing speed.
Moira Dann's Version: He'll always be remembered for his cupboards,
which never quite fit, although they went up with amazing speed.
Although and though are considered interchangeable, but although
should always be used at the start of a clause and though used to link
words or phrases such as 'wiser though poorer.'.