Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. My copyeditor has changed “as described below” to “as described following” and has changed “as noted above” to “as noted before.” Is my usage correct, or at least acceptable? I have never seen the usage the copyeditor has suggested. Is this usage becoming a trend, and what does CMOS think about it? Thank you.

A. Your usage is correct and acceptable; your editor’s changes are awkward and unidiomatic. Some overeager editors remove directions like above and below in the fear that once the text in question is typeset it might end up directly across on a facing page or at the top of a page overleaf, in which case the terms above and below will not be literally true. If your pointers refer to illustrations (whose positioning is beyond your control), such precautions are reasonable. Otherwise, it’s silly to think that readers don’t understand that above means “before” and below means “after.” One way to negotiate this might be to consider whether phrases like “as described below” or “as noted above” are truly needed. They suggest a writer who doesn’t trust his readers to keep reading or remember what they’ve read.