METM17 presentation

Negotiating a client-specific style sheet: adding value to academic author support

Julie Uusinarkaus, Helsinki, Finland
Summary dissertations – or summaries of article-based PhD dissertations – in the Finnish system are usually written by young academics who evidently have some publishing experience (four articles) but are still learning academic writing conventions. Although they are not native speakers of English, they are high-level users: most have developed a good sense of general academic writing style and have attended advanced writing courses, but some issues may have been overlooked. One overlooked area is style consistency in texts about triple the length of typical articles. Examples of issues that can be dealt with in a style sheet are punctuation usage, vocabulary conventions, or the importance of consistency in general. Since the university does not set formal conventions for these dissertations, some decisions must be made case by case. I ask the authors to keep the style sheet as a record of decisions they can apply to last-minute changes.
The approach to style sheet negotiation I will describe gives added value to an editing service for authors. The negotiation process is potentially a learning experience for the author and the sheet itself can serve as a future guide. I will outline the process, specifying the lessons I hope the writer will learn. I will then present a few dissertation excerpts for discussion of what aspects an editor could suggest for inclusion in the style sheet.
Julie Uusinarkaus works as an in-house editor at the University of Helsinki, but also freelances as an editor in the field of design. She was one of the founders of Nordic Editors and Translators and served as its chair for its first three years. She now is Vice Chair responsible for educational opportunities. She has helped develop the style guide for translation at the University of Helsinki and depends on client-specific style sheets for a range of projects and text types.