Editorial terms – S

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saddle stitch binding: a method of book binding that collates and folds the pages, then binds them and the cover together using thread or staples. Typically used for thinner publications than perfect binding.

sans-serif typeface: a typeface that does not incorporate extending lines or strokes at the end of larger strokes in letters or symbols. Examples of commonly used sans-serif typefaces are Arial and Helvetica.

scare quotes: quotation marks used to transmit the meaning ‘so called’; they are used for nicknames, colloquialisms, special terms and to indicate irony; avoid overuse.

script typeface: fonts that resemble handwriting.

sentence case: see minimum capitalisation

serial comma: a comma that appears before ‘and’ or ‘or’ in a list, for example: ‘apples, oranges, and pears’. Texts not using this style of punctuation would give the list as ‘apples, oranges and pears’. This is commonly seen in texts using US styles. If it is used, it should be used consistently throughout a text. It is sometimes known as the Oxford comma as it forms part of the house style of Oxford University Press. Occasionally a serial comma is used for clarity in a text that doesn’t otherwise use one. This might happen if the last element in a list itself contains an ‘and’: ‘The work involved staff from the operations, logistics, and health and safety departments.’

serif typeface: a typeface where a small line or stroke is regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol. Examples of commonly used serif typefaces are Times New Roman and Garamond.

set apart: see displayed matter

short list: a list where each entry comprises short phrases but not complete sentences.

short-title system: a citation method using footnotes or endnotes, where a marker, usually in superscript, is inserted where a citation is needed. The corresponding note gives full reference details the first time a work is mentioned, then a shorter version (typically the author surname and an abbreviated form of the work’s title) in subsequent notes. See also author–date system and Vancouver system.

shoulder head: a heading that sits on the left-hand side of the paragraph it relates to, often in the margin, with the text following on directly from it. See also run-in headings.

signature: a section of a book, consisting of a large sheet of paper folded multiple times and trimmed to produce pages (in multiples of 4, 8, 16 and so on); in a book with sewn binding (usually a hardback), only the outer three edges are trimmed and the folding at the inner edge is visible down the spine of the book; in a book with glued binding (usually a paperback), all four edges are trimmed.

silent corrections: correcting routine issues such as unwanted spaces between words or lines, and imposing elements of house style, with Track Changes switched off so that these changes are not marked in the text. This is done to eliminate clutter in the document and make it easier for the client to review the substantive changes that are tracked.

special sort: a character that isn’t usually included in standard fonts and therefore should be highlighted for the typesetter.

splash: the story with the biggest headline on the front page of a newspaper, or the lead item in online, social or broadcast media.

spread: when you open a book at any point, you have one page on the left and one on the right. In publishing, these pages together are called a spread, a two-page spread or a double-page spread (or DPS). See also verso and recto.

standfirst: usually the first sentence of a journalistic piece set in larger type and apart from the main text to catch the reader’s eye and give an idea of what the article is about.

stet: ‘let it stand’. Added to an earlier amendment to the text, ‘stet’ means to ignore this and revert to the way the text was before the instruction was made.

stub: technical term for the first column in a table.

style sheet: a detailed record of the variable spellings, hyphenation, capitalisation, etc used in a particular document, which records in detail the editorial style applied in the text. Copyeditors should routinely compile a style sheet when working on a text and this may be passed to the proofreader so they can see what style was intended to be applied consistently.

subediting: checking and correcting text, usually in a newspaper or magazine, to prepare it for print. A subeditor will often write headlines and captions, too.

subheading: a heading in the text that falls under a larger heading such as a chapter title or a section title. Subheadings break up the text into smaller, more easily navigated sections. The term is also given to a section of a heading that is subordinate to a main one and might come after a colon, as in ‘Glossaries: their joys and sorrows’.

subject: the person or thing that performs the action in a sentence.

subscript: position of a character below the imaginary baseline on which characters sit (eg H2O). Also called inferior.

superscript: position of a character above the imaginary baseline on which characters sit (eg 3cm2). Also called superior.