Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let's Just Go Ahead and Call This Incredible

For as long as I've been at the L.A. Weekly ('bout a year and a quarter now), the proofreading department has had a strong horizontal bias in how it situates its reference books. Every copy editor has three vital stylebooks at his work station: the local stylebook, The Associated Press Stylebook, and The American Heritage College Dictionary.

I consult these books, especially the dictionary, dozens of times per shift. The only downside to this (because I can't think of any others -- reading reference books is the best!) is constantly having to pull a needed book from beneath other books. This presents all sorts of hazards: Books could fall off the desk, books might bump into something else, a hand could get trapped between two books (more on that in a minute). But for months now, I've just considered that part of the job.

Until now. For some reason, Mother Innovation decided to poke me with her Magical Idea Wand today. The moment she did, I made a bold decision in how I arrange my reference books:

That's right: I went vertical. Now I can reach for my stylebook in a snap, without worry of disturbing its fellows. I won't have to constantly rearrange an unwieldy bibliohazardous heap. With the saved time, I figure I'll become .037 times more efficient at the Weekly (and, yes, supervisors o' mine, I'd love a raise to recognize my workplace ecological genius).

Not to mention the fact that I've now made my work station safer. Consider what could happen in the bad old horizontal days:

Ouch! My hand! This immense dictionary is crushing my tender digits! OSHA! OSHA!

But now witness life in our brave new vertical world:

Ah! The new arrangement makes reaching for books positively a joy! Isn't this the kind of thing that made Ralph Nader famous?

So let this be the first step upon the Path to Revolution, my copy-editing comrades! Shake free the chains of horizontal reference-book stacking! Stand up for yourselves and for ecological efficiency! Huzzah!


Blogger Gendy said...

Um, yeah. That wasn't nerdy at all. Oh no. Not at all.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

Gendy, nerdishness permeates The Other Style Council. Nerdishness is our life-giving force, like the sun.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Libertastic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Libertastic said...

That's the kind innovation that made America great. At least the parts that regularly consults reference books.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Steven Rosenberg said...

That's exactly how I do it ... vertical and to the left of the screen, except at the Daily News, we use Webster's New World Dictionary (although I do like the American Heritage).

But on my desk, the "return" portion, on which the computer sits, is slightly lower than the main desktop, providing a nook between desk and PC that keeps the books from falling over. It's a visual, but I have no camera to show it ...

11:30 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

Steven, I'm a Webster's man at heart. I use it at home on my freelance projects. It's one of the Weekly's curious tics that we use AH. First paper I've worked at that uses it.

And I'll have to look into getting one of those nooks. Wonder if I can order one ...

1:36 PM  
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