Upcoming Events

Book Club: Editing Canadian English — December 5

We’re reading Editing Canadian English, third edition. Need a copy? Order it from UBC Press, Indigo, Amazon or your favourite bookseller. The Ottawa Public Library has 12 copies in circulation. There’s also a Kobo edition. This meeting will focus on Chapters 1-5.

Tuesday, December 5, 5:30 p.m.

Le Moulin de Provence KD, 30 Metcalfe St., Ottawa (Not the Byward Market location)
Seminars — November 30December 12

Invest in yourself at every stage of your career with our professional development seminars. Take advantage of discounted rates for members. Learn more and register on our website.

Creating a House Style Guide: A Simple Tool for Producing Better Documents Faster: Thursday, November 30

Stylistic Editing: Tuesday, December 12

All seminars are held at the Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert Street, Ottawa, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

My thoughts on Writing and Editing for the Web—By Virginia St-Denis

Note from Bhavana Gopinath, Blog Editor: Editors Canada Ottawa–Gatineau presented Moira White’s seminar, Writing and Editing for the Web, on November 8, 2017. I attended that seminar, and found it be informative and thought-provoking. Here’s another take from an Editors Canada member, who took the same seminar in 2016.

I am a 25-year publishing professional—writing, editing, photographing, desktop publishing and managing newspapers, magazines and journals. The majority of my work has been in print and I have personally experienced the decline in this industry. To help me transition into online and social media platforms, I am taking various courses and seminars.

One such seminar was Writing and Editing for the Web through the Ottawa–Gatineau Branch of Editors Canada. I read printed material differently than I read web pages and I don’t think I’m alone. I wanted to learn the difference so I could better use online platforms to meet my readers’ wants and needs.

Moira White of Ubiquitext and past president of Editors Canada presented the full-day seminar on November 24, 2016. I was particularly interested in learning techniques that draw readers to web pages and creating engaging content to keep them there longer.

For Moira, the answer to my question of how people read online today is simple: They don’t! (How’s that for a quotable quote? lol) Most people skim for information.

As a November 2013 report showed, more people get information on their mobile devices than their laptop and desktop computers. Mobile devices have narrower columns of text, giving the illusion of longer, more intimidating paragraphs. I need to remember to provide bite-sized chunks of information in smaller paragraphs because of that one fact.

As well, people retain less information when reading online, which makes organizing information into small chunks and providing plenty of headings even more important.

Moira suggests writing for the web should answer only three questions in this order:

  1. What?
  2. So what?
  3. Now what?

This gets the take-home message out quickly and succinctly, then provides context before making a call to action.

She also suggests starting each paragraph with a topic sentence (remember those from grade school?) For those who don’t remember, the first sentence of each paragraph introduces what the rest of the paragraph will be about. If readers want more information, they will read it. If not, they go to the next paragraph.

As an Editors Canada member, I get a $125 discount on each of their seminars. (http://www.editors.ca/local-groups/ottawa-gatineau/seminars-ottawa-gatineau) The majority of the six seminars I took last year and two I’ve already taken this year (I have one more in March), have been invaluable. I expect I will take more next year. I highly recommend them.


During the Writing and Editing for the Web seminar for Editors Canada, Moira White explains how writers encode and readers decode information. Depending on which medium the writer chooses to share their message, readers can provide feedback.

Photo by Virginia St-Denis


Meet the Instructor: Electronic Editing for Editors by Cécile Dubois

Cecile Dubois

Are your Electronic Editing skills up to par?

Microsoft Word is ubiquitous. Whether or not it is the primary word processing tool for your work, as a writer and editor, your co-workers and clients generally expect you to be highly proficient. Are you?  We asked Cécile Dubois, who will be leading the Electronic Editing seminar on Friday, March 24th 2017, to tell us a little bit about what to expect.

Q. Who would benefit from taking this seminar?

A. This seminar is targeted for intermediate users who wish to become more efficient with Word, or as a refresher for those who haven’t used Word for a while and want to become familiar with changes and new features in different versions. This session takes you out of the work environment and gives you an opportunity to sharpen your skills.

Q. Is it possible to get though the seminar without a laptop?

A. It would be best to have a laptop to be able to do the exercises along with me. People learn much better by doing than by watching, but a laptop is not absolutely obligatory. I strongly recommend bringing one with MS Word 2010, 2013, or 2016.

Q. How will what I learn be relevant to my work?

A. When we work, we usually use the same familiar set of features that we know well, but we do not always have the time (or the need) to discover what other toolsets are available. We will cover many tips and tricks to make you more efficient and a power user!

Q. What if I have some specific questions or needs?

A. I try to make sure that everyone leaves the seminar feeling more competent and confident about using Word. The seminar is interactive, and I will try to make sure your questions and needs are answered.

Cécile Dubois has six years of experience as a software instructor. She is a creative professional who conveys a high level of preparation and enthusiasm to the classroom and to her relationships with her students. This is her first time delivering  Electronic Editing for Editors Ottawa-Gatineau.

Register at www.editors.ca/local-groups/ottawa-gatineau/electronic-editing 





Elizabeth Macfie


In a way, proofreaders are like magicians in that they can find errors that other people can’t see. The trick is to realize where document errors commonly hide and, in the Practical Proofreading seminar, participants will watch the 19 places where errors lurk in text and layout. Trained proofreaders also see the errors that escape other eyes because they read in a special way using tools and techniques that focus their attention on everything in the document. This is important because every error that a reader notices erodes their trust in the document and the organization that produced it. And missing or incorrect content can make a document worthless.

Instructor Elizabeth Macfie has 18 years’ experience as a freelance editor, proofreader, and indexer for government departments, university presses, research organizations and authors. She says “the principles and techniques that you’ll learn in this workshop apply to any document or other product you may work on: on paper, on-screen, on a bus board — anything.” To sign up for this January 19, 2016, seminar, go to https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352. Registration closes one week prior to the event.



Meet the Instructor – Plain Language: Building Results

Graham Young

Graham Young is an independent writer, trainer and communications consultant with more than 30 years’ experience helping business and government clients communicate at work. It is not an understatement to say that he can compose anything. He writes web content, annual reports, brochures, promotional flyers, data sheets, case studies, white papers, sales letters, advertorials, magazine and newsletter articles, news releases and speeches. Since 2000, he has conducted more than 500 writing and presentation-skills seminars and taught some 6,000 participants from the public, private, and non-profit sectors how to write and speak effectively.

The most powerful language is also the simplest. When each word has a clear meaning and purpose, readers can move easily through a text and focus on its message. Unfortunately, much writing today is needlessly bureaucratic and difficult to read. The challenges include poor organization, wordiness, jargon and poor page design. Plain Language: Building Results will help you overcome these pitfalls and create documents that say what they mean—efficiently. Throughout the day, individual and group exercises will give you a chance to apply plain language to real-life passages. Whether you’re a seasoned editor looking to affirm your approach or a newcomer eager to jumpstart your career, Plain Language: Building Results will help you achieve your writing goals.

To sign up, go to https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352. Registration closes on October 23, 2015.

Fall 2015 Seminars by Elaine Vininsky, Seminar Chair

Things are busy as the National Capital Region Branch is offering six seminars this fall. First up at bat is writer and Certified Professional Editor Frances Peck with two courses. Secrets of Syntax will help you become more adept at manipulating word order—or syntax—to improve prose. Grammar Boot Camp focuses on high-level grammar errors— the ones that make it past editors and proofreaders and into print.  Frances is always up for a challenge, and invites participants to bring along any difficult examples they’ve encountered in their work. These courses are offered back-to-back on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1.

Creating a House Style is next, on Friday, October 23. Elizabeth Macfie is an EAC-certified copy editor, stylistic editor and proofreader. Though dictionaries and style manuals provide answers and rules, there is often more than one way to write. Accordingly, every organization should have a house style, as it offers consistency and saves editing time.

Plain Language: Building Results will help you create documents that say what they mean—efficiently. Instructor Graham Young is an independent writer, trainer, and communications  consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in helping business and government clients communicate at work. He’ll be giving this seminar on Thursday, October 29.

We’ve listened to those who’ve been requesting more business-oriented courses, and have engaged Adrienne Montgomerie to teach Marketing for Freelance Editors. Adrienne is a certified copy editor and an educational editor with more than 180 titles and 18 years of experience. She’ll suggest ideas of how to market to your clients, whether they are publishers, businesses, or authors. This half-day seminar is offered on Tuesday, November 10.

Carolyn Brown offers Editing Scientific Papers and Reports on Wednesday, November 25. Carolyn is a Certified Professional Editor and accredited Editor in the Life Sciences, and is a scientific and medical publishing consultant for two of Canada’s two largest scientific publishers. In this seminar, editors will learn how to help researchers communicate clearly and effectively to their peers and the greater community.

All seminars will be held at Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5E9.

Click here to register for any of these exciting fall seminars.