John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Antique writing equipment
Despite all the writing with Microsoft Word on the computer — blog posts, job applications, e-mail, the manuscript of my long-gestating book on editing — the computer has not entirely effaced previous technology. I should show my children my Bud’s Research Paper Typing Guide.
It is a laminated second sheet to put behind a blank sheet in a typewriter. What shows through on the blank sheet are a black border indicating the top, bottom, and side margins; a vertical dotted line indicating the center of the page, and a set of numbers, 1-51, on the left to help calculate how much space to allow for footnotes. It bears many indentations from a Remington manual typewriter.
And it is about as useful as a shaker of sand to blot ink on the page.
The Remington is long gone, and there is a Brother electronic typewriter on a shelf that I haven’t used in years.
I have a Waterman fountain pen, fine nib, that I use for personal correspondence. Before I was laicized by The Sun, I used it to sign formal documents, such as performance reviews and pardons.
Pilot’s liquid-gel pens, both blue and black, have become a favorite, especially the 05 fine points, which are close to ideal for my cramped, precise handwriting. For paper grading: red for condemnation and green for advice.
I own a couple of Cross ballpoints, but their ink tends to blot irritatingly and get on my hands.
For making notes in books, Paper Mate Sharpwriter, Dixon SenseMatic, and Pentel mechanical pencils, which can be found all over the house, are handy.
While I make notes and sketchy outlines by hand, I almost never draft anything except by keyboard. Lowell Denton told me when I first worked at The Flemingsburg Gazette in the summer of 1968, “John Early, you’ve got to learn to write on the typewriter, because you’re never going to have the time to write it out by hand and then type it.”
I told you that this was a “Who cares?” post. If you’re still reading, you’ve only yourself to blame.
But if you’re keen to waste more time, you can comment on your own tastes in writing equipment.