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Ragout
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Light Blogging? Blame the Copy Editors


Sorry about the light blogging recently. I've been busy frantically churning out words that are actually going to see print and pdf. Now that I'm at the fighting-with-copy-editors stage, blogging will resume its normal pace.

Ever notice that copy editors have all learned two rules, rules that are mutually exclusive for those of us who write about data? First, they tells us to to eschew the passive voice. Second, they say not to use "I" and "we." How then to rephrase a sentence about data like, "The sample was restricted to those earning between $1 and $50 per hour?" "I restricted the sample ... " is out. "The Ragout organization restricted the sample ..." is allowed, but can I truly claim to speak for the entire organization? Perhaps the sample members can be the actors? "Only those earning between $1 and $50 an hour appear in the sample." But that's misleading, people earning 50 cents an hour appeared in the sample until I excluded them, they didn't exclude themselves.

Learn to love the passive voice. Some actions just aren't very active.
 
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