Dear Ed ...

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dearedDear Mr Ed

I really really REALLY wanted to sit the accreditation exam. But I reviewed a sample exam paper on the IPEd website and got completely disillusioned because it had an editing exercise about sailing ships. Also, I know that some years ago an exam had an editing exercise about racehorses. I don't know anything about sailing ships or racehorses, so how could I sit the exam? And when can I expect an exam tailored to my own areas of expertise?


Hi Muriel

Sorry it took me so long to respond, but I snorted into my coffee when I read your email and it spurted all over the screen. At least I didn't go for the double bonus and knock the remainder of the coffee over the keyboard. That would have led to a longer response time, involving a lengthy detour to the computer shop for a new keyboard and a consolatory cup of coffee at a cafe where I could sit and look morosely out the window at all the people walking past who hadn't just attempted filtering their favourite single blend through a computer keyboard and been unable to get it back into the cup.

However, to the matter at hand. Luckily, being Mr Ed AE, I know everything about sailing ships and racehorses. I put this down to having gone sailing once (when the alleged ocean-going yacht decided to lift its rudder out of Port Phillip Bay to wave at seagulls), and having worked once on the bar at the Stony Creek Cup (in another lifetime, when I had a different face and a different set of memories).

But, putting sailing ships and racehorses to one side, possibly cramming both into one of those stylish Quest apartments at Flemington Racecourse and opening the windows to accommodate the masts, I think you're largely missing the point.

What do both editing exercises have in common? I'll answer for you from my very loose memory, being one of the very few editors in the known universe to have sat an IPEd exam twice: names, numbers, dates, proper nouns, style decisions, italics, grammar points, compound phrases, colons, commas, brackets. I could go on, and probably will.

The editing exercises aren't requesting specialist knowledge about sailing ships and racehorses. They're asking you to reveal your knowledge of the tools of your trade. The idea of an exam is to create a benchmark where candidates can measure themselves against other candidates. An exam tailored for one editor kind of runs against this idea, don't you think?

All right, I agree: I am getting a bit snarky. I don't know if I've done a snarky Dear Ed column before, and I don't want to do one again, so ask me something clever next time.


Ed, President of the Keyboard Preservation Society