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Copyediting: Three tools for three stages

There are three stages in copyediting a document:

       Processing – preparing a document for copyediting

       Editing – the actual copyediting of a document

       Proofing – checking for mistakes during the copyediting stage.

You may be familiar with a spell checker and a grammar checker. However, professional editors have an arsenal of tools at hand to make the work of each stage more accurate and efficient. If you’re new to editing, or if you’re looking to improve capabilities at your workplace, this article shows how anyone can use three of those tools to improve their editing and reduce the amount of time spent checking.

Stage 1: Processing

This is a mechanical stage. It is where the manuscript is cleaned up, and author excesses (and eccentricities) are laid to rest. Most of it can be handled automatically. For example, the editor changes double spaces to single spaces, double hyphens to em-dashes, removes extra paragraph returns, puts punctuation inside quotation marks and superscripts, etc.

There are many ways to manage this stage. Some users create their own macros, others use Word’s Find & Replace, still others prefer to address each item separately as they edit text. However, using Find & Replace to do one item at a time is slow and requires care to make sure that nothing is missed. Addressing each item separately is even worse. It’s time-consuming, distracting and it takes focus away from the editing itself.

In truth, none of these are necessary. The best solution is using a macro that cleans up more than one thing, such as The Editorium’s FileCleaner, a product developed specifically to address the common cleanup problems that copyeditors deal with routinely. The macros are a professional solution that pre-process a manuscript and get it ready for editing. It takes the drudgery out of the mechanical tasks that need to be done, and takes care of them quickly, efficiently, and accurately, allowing the editor to choose which actions the editor wants completed.

Stage 2: Editing

Editing engages with the text. The focus is on the substance of what is being said and how it is being said, so wherever possible, editors keep the mechanics to Stage I. But they still work faster by using tools that make their editing quick, efficient, and above all, accurate.

EditTools by WordsnSync is a group of macros designed to improve accuracy in the editing process while increasing efficiency. It includes Toggle, a super-fast tool that cuts the time it takes to make each edit. A single keystroke takes care of common corrections such as

       which to that

       about to approximately

       HIV to human immunodeficiency virus

       100 to one hundred

       x to the correct times sign

       hyphen to the correct minus sign

       and hundreds of other things – all it takes is your input

Toggle works off a list that you create, and that list can be thousands of entries long. The list is updateable through the easy-to-use Toggle Manager (no need to understand programming or to open and close lists) at the press of a single key. EditTools contains a myriad of other macros that are all easily accessible.

The Editor’s Toolkit is produced by the same company as FileCleaner. It too provides quick and easy ways of completing common tasks. With the Editor’s Toolkit, a single keystroke helps you find the place you were working, changes the case of text, or changes the appearance of text.

Although, the difference between editing changes and automating changes with single keystrokes may sound trivial, it’s far from it. Each and every change is faster. So the result is more work accomplished in a lot less time.

Stage 3: Proofing

No matter how good an editor is, the editor will have missed something; the more complex the manuscript, the more somethings that will have gotten by!

PerfectIt Pro analyses documents in detail, looking for common errors. Mostly it checks consistency. For example, if ‘time-consuming’ is hyphenated 18 times in a document, but twice it’s used without hyphens, are the two exceptions correct or just missed hyphens? And what about capitalisation of titles? Was it correct to use sentence style in one case when all of the others use title case style?

PerfectIt leaves the user in control. It finds possible errors so that the editor can apply his or her editorial judgement. It checks consistency of:

       hyphenated words, phrases and compounds (e.g. ‘self interest’ and ‘self-interest’)

       words and phrases in capitals (e.g. ‘Government’ and ‘government’)

       international spelling variations (e.g. ‘colour’ and ‘color’)

PerfectIt checks abbreviations. It checks whether abbreviations are used before their definition, defined more than once, or perhaps not even defined at all. PerfectIt also checks bullets, lists, figures, and tables. It checks for punctuation and capital letters, tables and figures that have been numbered in the wrong order, and tables and figures with missing headers.

For advanced users, PerfectIt offers editors the chance to create their own style sheets to store house style preferences. These style sheets can be shared among colleagues or online. For example, it’s possible to download the preferred spellings for WHO style from the PerfectIt User Forum and integrate that list into your own copy of PerfectIt.

PerfectIt makes the proofing stage both faster and more accurate. By quickly reducing the number of errors, it ensures that documents are presented in the best possible way.

Three stages and so much more

Although these three tools help users through all three stages, they also provide a great deal of other options. For example:

       EditTools contains the Journals macro which determines if journal names have been correctly cited. You can create a dataset for any style of journal name, for example, for Chicago style, American Medical Association style, or any other style. As there are more than 10,000 journals in the PubMed database, for example, using Journals macro with a PubMed dataset adds a great deal of power when compared to manual checks!

       EditTools also contains a Superscript Me macro that will automatically take inline reference number callouts and superscript them following the rules of standard styles such as Chicago and AMA.

       PerfectIt automatically generates a table of abbreviations and can find phrases unintentionally left in the text (e.g. ‘insert figure XX here’)

Better together

These three tools, which provide such powerful checking, are now available together. Editor’s Toolkit Ultimate contains the Editor’s Toolkit Plus (including both FileCleaner and the Editor’s Toolkit), EditTools, and PerfectIt. At $149.95 the combined package is actually cheaper than buying PerfectIt with either of the other products. It’s effectively three for less than the price of two, so take advantage of the bundle offer and click to buy now.


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