Take a Break, Editors!

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2017-11-01

Editing is hard work, and sometimes it's nice to take a break from editing a particularly difficult piece of text and have a bit of fun. I've collected some suggestions for little quizzes, intriguing blog posts, and interactive activities for you to help you perk up and give your brain a break!


OED Blog: Symbols for Sounds: Dictionary Pronunciations Explained

If an interesting distraction is what you’re after, this article from the Oxford English Dictionaries blog is just perfect. It explains the 45 symbols the dictionary uses to show how words are pronounced. If you’re wondering why there are so many, the OED explains thusly: “A big part of the problem for English is that we have just five vowel letters (a, e, i, o, u) but around 20 different vowel sounds.” 


Copy Edit This! The New York Times Grammar Quiz

The NYT has been offering readers a chance to test their mettle against staff copy editors for a while now, and the tests have a reputation for being pretty tough — perfect for switching gears after struggling on a difficult project! The quizzes are based on real-life internal memos sent to staff by the Times’s standards editor, Phillip B. Corbett, and feature real examples from the newspaper. This one can be interesting because you don’t have to identify the error per se, just identify the words you think are wrong, and if he agrees, Corbett will explain his explanation.


OED Blog: Can You Guess the Word?

This is an interesting quiz — watch a series of short clips that illustrate the meaning of commonplace words, and try to figure out which one fits! To check your answer, follow the link beneath the video to the word’s dictionary entry page, where lexicographer extraordinaire Susie Dent will guide you through each of the examples in the supplementary definition video.


Just the Right Book!

No doubt you’ve heard of subscription box services before, but Just the Right Book! is a bit different in that it can help you choose books for other people in your life too, not just yourself. In a world full of algorithms, they’ve created one that becomes your own personal bookseller – tell them your tastes and interests, and they select books for you using their algorithm, which focuses on the uniqueness of each reader. With the holidays coming up, this is a great idea to check out for the readers in your life — or, you know, as a gift to yourself!


OED Blog: Missing Colours

This quiz will keep you guessing — each question includes a book that normally has a colour in its title, but the colour is removed. See if you can figure out what colours are missing!


Test Your Speed Reading

Think you’re a pretty fast reader? Well, now you can find out for sure! This speed reading quiz will test your speed and show you how you match up against the national average. See if you can improve your score over time!


Take 15!

So, the next time you’re stuck on a tricky sentence you just can’t crack, or need a break from a dense book manuscript, take a 15-minute break and switch your brain’s gears to something more fun! Then, when you return to your work, you’ll feel more refreshed and ready to look at the content with new eyes.