Conference 2002: The Cambridge Blue Pencil

Reports from the 2002 conference, Robinson College, Cambridge

More than ever before, workers in the publishing industry need to know about each other. The lines between different activities – writing, editing, proofreading, indexing, design, typesetting, printing – have become increasingly blurred by cost cutting and new technology. Communication across those lines is vital.

  • Publishers need to understand how to brief their freelancers, who in turn should be aware of what is happening in-house.
  • Proofreaders and editors need to be familiar with design and typographical specifications and with the printing costs involved in late changes.
  • Authors need to know something about the production process, or they may inadvertently cause extra cost.

SfEP's very successful 2002 conference sought to involve corporate associates fully, and gave them an opportunity to get together for a discussion session. Commissioning and freelance editors met to discuss how they can work together more effectively, both with each other and with authors, proofreaders, indexers, designers, typesetters and printers.

At the same time, freelance members – many of whom may have never worked in-house – had a chance to learn about production methods. They were also able to find out about some of the many skills, besides the core ones of editing and proofreading, that are offered by fellow members. In this way, they may be able to widen their own portfolios, branching out, perhaps, into writing or typesetting.

A couple of training courses were run just before and just after the conference. We also arranged visits to local places of interest after the conference itself.

The Whitcombe Lecture

This year, the Whitcombe Lecture was given by Professor Paul Richardson, director of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies. Download the full text of Professor Richardson's lecture (43KB PDF).

The rest of the programme

  • Mini-lectures on the publishing process from the points of view of:
    • an author (Nick Hammond, chief executive, Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire & Peterborough)
    • a publisher (Graham Hart, Hart McLeod)
    • an editor (Kathleen Lyle)
    • a proofreader (Gillian Clarke).
  • Bite-sized talks on issues important to freelancers
    • What is Copyright for? (Christina Thomas)
    • SfEPLine: What it is, isn't and ought to be (Rod Cuff)
    • A quick review of Acrobat and PDFs (David Penfold)
    • You're the boss! (Alison Turnbull).
  • Corporate associates' get-together for exchange of views between publishers' representatives.
  • Corporate panel/forum to discuss issues such as briefing freelancers, fact-checking (whose responsibility?), training costs (who pays?), software licences, Digital Asset Management.
  • Workshops and seminars

    Monday morning

    • Starting out (Priscilla Sharland)
    • The structure and coding of electronic documents: Why, what and how (David Penfold)
    • Cropping and sizing illustrations (Barbara Horn)
    • The principles of project management (Martin Stevens, Association for Project Management)
    • Editing for the web (Nancy Duin).

    Tuesday morning

    • Feeling my way: Working with a pioneering educational publisher in Pakistan (Doreen Crawford)
    • Internet reference sources (Krys Bottrill)
    • Editing tables (Sue Thomas)
    • Working with the designer (Dale Tomlinson)
    • Working with Word: Interfacing with typesetting software (Anne Waddingham)
    • Whose line is it anyway? (Penny Poole)
    • Optimizing performance and security on your PC (Mazen Barakat).

    Tuesday afternoon

    • Introduction to the Alexander Technique (Jo Fisher, Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique)
    • Time management (Mark Forster, author of Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play)
    • Indexing for editors (Ann Hudson, Society of Indexers)
    • Copyright issues (Sean Redmond)
    • Printing processes (Nicholas Russell, Larman Printers)
    • Creating a basic website for your business (Shena Deuchars)
    • Scientific writing and editing (Adrian Sumner).