Editorial terms – A

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abbreviation: any short form in which letters are omitted, but more specifically one in which a word is curtailed (that is, the end is cut off, eg Jan, Wed); in this specific sense, contrasted with contraction.

abstract: a summary of an academic work that appears at the beginning of that work and can be published separately.

acronym: a set of capital initials that can be pronounced as a word (eg OPEC). Contrasted with initialism.

active voice: the difference between ‘we made mistakes’ (active) and ‘mistakes were made’ (passive). If you can name the subject it is an easier construction to read, and it sounds less evasive.

adjective: a word or term that describes a noun or pronoun.

adverb: a word that describes a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Many adverbs end with ‘-ly’.

alt tag: the text that describes an online image, to aid accessibility. Also called alt description or alt text.

artwork (a/w): the original material from which images in a publication, such as photographs, line illustrations and other figures, will be reproduced. It usually consists of digital files, but the term is also applied to physical originals, such as photographs or line images. Also any material (such as unusual symbols) that must be supplied to the typesetter already set, in digital form.

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number): Amazon’s equivalent of an ISBN, which can only be used on that platform.

author–date system: a popular citation method where the author and the date are included in the text (eg Fukuyama, 1989) and full details of the cited work appear in an alphabetically ordered reference list or bibliography. Also called the Harvard system. See also short-title system and Vancouver system.

author’s voice: the qualities and features of an author’s writing that make it unique to that person. It conveys the author’s attitude, personality and character, which is why it is important that copyeditors and proofreaders consider very carefully any changes they make to the writing style.