An American Editor

April 24, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap X

In The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IX, I discussed the Enhanced Search, Count, and Replace (SCR) macro and how I use it while editing manuscript. This essay deals with inserting queries/comments into the manuscript during editing.

When I first began freelancing, a client (an in-house production editor) told me that as important as good editing skills are, even more important is how authors are queried. The reason, the editor said, is that when I speak to the author, I am speaking on behalf of the client. Of course, that got me thinking about comments and led me to the realization that comments are not only important as alerts to clients and authors about potential problems, but as a marketing tool for me. I wish I could say that I never let frustration with a manuscript or a client appear in comments I have inserted, but I can say that when the frustration appeared, I had made a conscious decision to let it appear.

Querying the author or the in-house editor or the compositor is usually done in one of two ways: (a) inserting the comment inline in the text or (b) inserting the comment as balloon text such as is done using Word’s Comment feature. Because time is money in my editorial business, I rely on EditTools’ Insert Query and Comment Editor macros to insert queries. (For this essay, “queries” and “comments” are used interchangeably and the one includes the other. The oft-stated distinction between the two terms is that a query asks a question whereas a comment makes a statement [e.g., “AQ: Is it OK/correct that I changed 1 to 2 to conform with the previous quantity?” is a query, whereas “Ed/COMP: This needs to be set in sans serif.” is a comment].) Insert Query lets you choose between inserting the comment as a Word comment (balloon text) or inline, as shown here (you can make an image in this essay larger by clicking on the image):

Choose method for inserting a query

I have repeatedly said that time is money when editing. My goal is to minimize the time I need to spend doing “routine” tasks and maximize the time I have available for actual editing. Prior to Insert Query, I had to keyboard every query, even if it was the same query, perhaps with some modification, as inserted a dozen times before in the manuscript. Keyboarding slowed me down considerably. Although I have become a fairly decent typist over the years, I still am neither a fast typist nor one with 100% accuracy. So, keyboarding a query longer than a few words took (takes) time — time for the original keyboarding and time to review that keyboarding and time to correct the errors in my keyboarding.

Using keyboard shortcuts sped up the process but was limited for many reasons. After a while it became difficult to remember all of my keyboard shortcuts — I had them for everything, not just for queries — and there was a limit to how many quickly accessible keyboard shortcuts I could create. I eventually kept a list of my keyboard shortcuts, but that wasn’t a panacea because as the list grew, I had to take the time to look up the shortcut. Also complicating the situation was when I needed to modify a query: the original query was written for Jones on Capitalistic Medicine and now needs to be modified for Smith on Mercy Medicine. These and other limitations and problems led to the Insert Query macro.

As the image below shows, using Insert Query I am able to store a large number of “standard” queries (#A in image; the count shows the number of saved queries for the Reference Queries tab [#1] only) and access them as I need them. To make it easier and quicker to access a query, I separate the queries into categories (#2) that I create. After selecting the category, I select the query (#3) I want to insert. The selected query appears in the “insert” windows (#4), where I can modify the query if necessary. In this example, there are three underscores that need to be replaced with the relevant information. It is in this field (#4) that I make the change, after which I click Insert to have the query inserted in the text as a balloon comment.

Selecting, modifying, & inserting a query

One of the tabs is a project-specific tab (#5 in the image below; all of the tabs work the same, so you can not only rename any of the tabs, but you can have multiple project-specific tabs). As is shown at #B, this tab has 104 available project-specific queries from which I can choose. What I do is copy a query that I need for a project from one of the other tabs and add it (clicking Add to add it to the dataset rather than Insert to add it to the document) to the project-specific dataset. When I am done with a project, I copy those queries that I specially created for the project and that did not come from another tab that I think will be usable for other projects to one of the other tabs.

Project-specific queries

Take a look at the query shown in the above image (#6). How many times would you like to type it? Once was enough for me. Yet look at the query. The query packs a lot of information and shows that I did my job. It tells both the client and the author that I am competent and knowledgeable. Most importantly, as several clients have commented on seeing this and similar queries, it tells the author that the client has selected a professional editor and that the client cares about the author’s book; it gives the author confidence in the quality of the editing and competency of the editor; and it confirms to the client that a wise choice was made when I was selected to edit the book. In other words, it acts as a marketing tool.

It is easy to “perfect” a query when you only have to think of it once and only have to keyboard it once. In addition, it is easy, with a tool like Insert Query, to maintain a library of queries. Because I can create as many categories as I want (#7), I can organize the queries into logical groups that make finding the right query quick.

I use Insert Query to insert every comment that gets inserted in a manuscript. Even if I do not have the exact query I want in a dataset, I have found that using Insert Query to modify an existing comment or to create a new comment works best for me. Using Insert Query gives me the opportunity to add the revised or new query to my dataset without having to enter it twice.

Remember that the idea is to create the wheel once and reuse it, not recreate it each time. Comments can be time-consuming. Insert Query saves me time, thus making me more profitable; even a savings of just a few seconds per query can add up over time to a significant increase in profit. Additionally, Insert Query reduces the number of embarrassing typing mistakes that are made, thereby making me look more professional.

Sometimes a comment needs to be modified, deleted, or reviewed. The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap XI discusses how I use Comment Editor when I need to access an already inserted comment.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

April 17, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IX

In The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VIII, I began discussing the macros I use during editing. My discussion continues with the Enhanced Search, Count, and Replace (SCR) macro.

I use SCR frequently during editing. The macro searches the text looking for a selected word or phrase (in the example shown below, “Ebola virus disease (EVD)”) and tells me how many times it appears in the text and in what form. The first step is to select the word or phrase to be checked, as shown here (you can make this image, as well as other images in this essay, larger by clicking on the image):

Selecting the search term or phrase

Once I have selected the search term, I run SCR. The macro automatically will “create” search variations (see image below). I can choose to let the macro search for all (leave all of the “Include” checkboxes checked) or some (uncheck those I don’t want included in the search) of those variations and by clicking the “Add terms” button, I can add variations I want included in the search (e.g., I could add “eVD” or “ebola Virus disease”). Usually I just leave all of the items checked and do not add additional terms; occasionally I make additions and changes.

SCR’s options dialog

Tip: Be sure to check what the macro is going to search for and think about it. Macros are dumb and do exactly as instructed. Consequently, if your search phrase is “T-helper (Th)” the macro will find every word that begins “Th” or “th” or “TH”. The search has the same limitations as the standard Word search. Sometimes there is no avoiding getting a return with excess information, but other times a tweak in the search term (e.g., unchecking “Th” and adding “Th-1” and “Th1”) can accomplish what you want.

Clicking OK starts the the text search. SCR searches from the point of the selected text to the end-of-text bookmark (the remhigh or refs bookmark); the search begins with the first alphanumeric character following the selected term or phrase. In my work, I do not want it to search references, tables, or figure legends; I just want the main text searched. The search is quick, and produces a report similar to that shown here:

Search results

In this sample search, two instances of “EVD” and no instances of “Ebola virus disease” were found. Because this client has a general rule (I write “general” because there are times when the rule is not applied) that an acronym/initialism has to appear more than three times in the chapter (if it does not, then instances of the acronym/initialism have to be spelled out; if it does, then subsequent instances of the spelled out version need to be converted to the acronym/initialism), I know to convert “EVD” to “Ebola virus disease” in this chapter. I do so by entering the text in the replace field as shown here:

Replacing text

Clicking OK will cause the macro to replace those instances of “EVD” with “Ebola virus disease” as shown below. Note in the image that the change is automatically made with tracking on.

Replacing the text with tracking on

I repeat the procedure in the next images to show what happens when there are more than a few options found. In this next example, the chosen phrase is “World Health Organization (WHO)”:

Selecting the search term

The SCR macro automatically looks for the variations shown here:

SCR automatically searches for these variations

and returns the report shown here:

The search results

There are 75 instances of WHO (#1 in above image) and two instances of World Health Organization (#2) in the chapter. Applying the client’s rule, the 75 instances of WHO need to be highlighted (#3) and the two instances of World Health Organization need to be changed to WHO (#4).

Tip: The count that is returned by the SCR macro does not include the original selected text. In this example, the selection was “World Health Organization (WHO)” (see earlier image), so that instance was not included. What that means is that the true count is 76 instances of “WHO” and three instances of “World Health Organization” appear in the text. Had I selected only “World Health Organization” as the search text, “WHO” would not have been counted unless I manually added it as an additional search term, meaning that the search result would have been three instances of “World Health Organization”.

When searching, the macro (most of the time, but not always) ignores parentheses and square brackets. To make it easier to add additional variations or to enter replacement text, when I select the text to be searched for, I also copy it to the clipboard. That way I can paste the phrase into the appropriate blank field rather than type it and just make adjustments to the original search text to create additional search variations. Most of the time that works easily; sometimes it is easier to type what I want added.

To highlight the instances of WHO, I check the Highlight box (#3) for those that I want highlighted. The purpose of highlighting the text is so that as I edit the chapter, I can see that I have already made sure that the acronym/initialism has been spelled out and/or that the phrase has been checked (perhaps, e.g., I confirmed that the spelling or name is correct, such as “bevacizumab” or “chikungunya” or “Chinese National Biotec Group”). To change “World Health Organization” to “WHO”, I type “WHO” in the Replace Text field (#4).

Clicking OK causes SCR to do the designated tasks. When done, the results appear as shown here:

Highlighting and replacing text

Instances of “WHO” have been highlighted (#1, #3, and #4) and the two instances of “World Health Organization” (#2 and #3) have been deleted and replaced by “WHO.” Note, however, that the first instance of “World Health Organization” (#1), which is the instance that I had selected for the search term (see earlier image) remains. Note also that the deletions of “World Health Organization” and the additions of “WHO” are shown as tracked changes. If tracking is off, SCR turns tracking on, makes the changes, and turns tracking off; if tracking is on before it runs, it leaves tracking on when it is finished.

SCR performs another very valuable function in my editing: It helps me determine whether the acronym/initialism or the spelled-out version predominates. It is not unusual to get a report indicating the acronym/initialism appears, for example, five times and the spelled-out version appears six times. When that happens, as the editor I need to decide which form to use and which to replace. Of course, also entering the decision-making process is how I will justify my decision and whether I have an explicit instruction from the client that tilts the balance scales toward a particular response.

Tip: I also use SCR to determine whether a phrase appears in another form later in the text. For example, if I come across the phrase “tumor necrosis factor beta,” I will run SCR and add these 11 search terms using the “Add terms” feature:

  • tumor necrosis factor-beta [note the hyphen]
  • tumor necrosis factor–beta [note the en-dash]
  • tumor necrosis factor β
  • tumor necrosis factor-β
  • tumor necrosis factor–β
  • TNF-beta
  • TNF–beta
  • TNF-β
  • TNF–β
  • TNFβ
  • TNFbeta

When I get the report, I can determine whether any of the 12 phrases (the original selection plus the 11 added terms) appear later in the text and if they do, how often. That allows me to decide which form to use and which ones I need to change so that usage is consistent — and to make any necessary changes immediately. SCR is another tool in my consistency arsenal. Once I make the decision, assuming this is my first encounter with the phrase, I note my decision on the stylesheet and add the change to the Never Spell Word project-specific dataset (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap V) so that the change is implemented in all subsequent chapters.

SCR is a more sophisticated form of Word’s Find & Replace function. Using Word’s Find & Replace requires multiple searches to be sure that most of the likely variations have been searched for. In addition, using Word’s Find & Replace doesn’t provide an easy way to mark text so that you know you have already checked it and it is okay.

Although the examples I use are nonfiction, SCR is a great tool for fiction editors. For example, you can search for character names and spelling variations (Mariah, Marya, and Maria are three spellings of the same name — although if the results came back Mariah = 100 and Maria = 63, I would query the author [and myself] whether these are the same character or different characters, and if the same character, which is the correct spelling).

Which leads us to…

It’s the rare manuscript that can go through editing and not have comments or queries inserted; in all of the hundreds of manuscripts I have edited, there have only been two or three. The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap X discusses how I use, insert, and edit comments/queries during editing.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

April 10, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VIII

Although it seems from the volume of the posts (this being the eighth in the series) that I have spent a lot of time on the manuscript but not gotten very far along the road, the opposite is truer: All that has gone before, with the exception of editing the reference list, took very little time. It takes longer to describe my steps than to perform them.

Each of the previous steps were necessary in my methodology as preludes to getting me to the point where I actually edit the manuscript. Now it is time to discuss some of the things done while actually editing the manuscript. I begin with reference renumbering.

Reference Renumbering

Not all manuscripts require reference renumbering, but a significant number do. The last major project I completed had 82 chapters made up of 10,000 manuscript pages and thousands of references (several chapters had more than 1000 references and many had between 500 and 900 references; the entire project had more than 21,000 references). Of those 82 chapters, 76 required reference renumbering; quite a few required renumbering beginning within the first 10 references (and one chapter had a half-dozen references that had to be inserted before reference 1).

Even if it turns out that a chapter’s references do not require renumbering, I need some way to make sure that references are called out in order; it is not unusual to have earlier references recalled out so that there is a sequence like this: 21, 22–24, 25, 26, 23, 27. I used to try to track the reference numbering and renumbering using pencil and paper; then I graduated to using an Excel spreadsheet. Both methods worked but they were cumbersome and time consuming. In addition, there wasn’t an easy way, in a chapter that required extensive renumbering, to quickly and easily track the renumbering.

Below is a sample page from a report generated by the References # Order Check macro (you can make the image, as well as other images in this essay, larger by clicking on the image). The format of the report is as follows: In the first shown entry (53,60), 53 is the original reference number as assigned by the author and found in the original reference list; 60 is the renumber value, that is, what was once numbered 53 is now renumbered as 60. As you look at the sample, you will see some numbers are followed by explanatory comments. If you would like to see the complete report, it is available for download from wordsnSync. The file is a PDF named Sample Reference Renumbering.

Reference Renumber Report

Reference # Order Check

The way I track references now is with EditTools’ Reference # Order Check macro, shown here:

The Renumbering Macro Dialog

For details on how this to use this macro, see Reference # Order Check. For purposes of this essay, there are only a couple of things to note. First, when I come to a reference callout in the text, assuming it does not need renumbering or a comment, I click on the corresponding number in the left numbering field (#A in image above). Doing so let’s me track what the next callout number should be. For example, if I have clicked on 1 to 7, I know the next numbered callout should be 8. If it is, I click 8; if instead it is 10, then I know I need to renumber. Renumbering is done by clicking in the blank field next to the number 10 in the main Renumber: field (#B in image). That will put the 10 in the Original: field (#C in image) and I enter its new number — 8 — or a comment or both in the Renumber: field (also at #C) and click Modify. The new number or the comment or both will appear in the main field (#B) opposite 10, and 8 will be removed from the left numbering field (#A). If the next callout is number 8, I repeat the renumbering process and renumber 8 as 9. And so it goes.

The Reference # Order Check macro does much more to help with numbering/renumbering, but a discussion of what else it does isn’t needed here. Take a look at the report the macro generates (see the complete Sample Reference Renumbering); I send a report to the client with every chapter/manuscript that requires reference list renumbering.

Managers on the Desktop

I do one more task before beginning actual editing: I open Bookmarks and the Managers for Toggle Word and Toggle Word Specialty. I also open Click List. I keep these open on one of my monitors (I use a three-monitor setup) because these are things I access frequently. With some projects, I also keep open the Never Spell Word Manager. In a large project, I will keep the NSW Manager open as I edit the early chapters, but with later chapters, I only open it when needed.

Bookmarks have already been discussed (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IV). Click List lets me insert items with a single click. Take a look at the Click List image below. In the image, the Symbols tab is showing. Before Click List, if I needed to insert a division sign (÷), I had to open Word’s Symbol dialog, search for the symbol, and double-click it to insert it into the document. It took time — sometimes a lot of time, sometimes only a little time — to find the symbol I needed. With Click List, I do that search once, add the symbol and my own name for it using the Click List Manager, and thereafter I insert it with a single mouse click from Click List. The Click List can be used for just about anything, from a symbol (e.g., ä or ≈ or Ǻ) to a lengthy phrase (e.g., including the opening space, “ of total antigen per dose” or “References for this chapter are available at Xxxxx.com.”). Click List is an excellent example of creating the wheel once and reusing it.

Symbols Tab in Click List

Toggle Word

Of all the macros I use during editing, none is more valuable than the Toggle Word macro. The Managers for Toggle Specialty and Toggle Word are shown here:

Toggle Word and Toggle Word Specialty Managers

The Toggle macro lets me select a word or phrase or acronym/initialism and change it quickly, easily, and, most importantly, accurately. Although I can type, I still make lots of typing errors. For example, it isn’t uncommon for me to type chatper instead of chapter. In that case, autocorrect takes care of the error, but things get dicier when I need to type N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide. I may not notice a mistyping, which would be a tragedy, but even more tragic — for me — is the time I need to spend to type it, check it to make sure it is correct, and correct it if wrong. A couple of clicks is much better — quicker, easier, more accurate, and profit-enhancing.

Toggle works with tracking on, so I can undo at any time. Toggle also can give me options. For example, N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide is the chemical name for DEET. When I am editing a manuscript, my clients want acronyms and initialisms spelled out at first mention (unless the style dictates that a particular acronym/initialism does not have to be spelled out, which is usually the case with, e.g., HIV/AIDS). So, when I come across the first instance of DEET in the manuscript, I place my cursor in or I select DEET and press my shortcut key for Toggle. The following dialog then appears:

Toggle Can Offer Options

Toggle displays my options based on what I have entered in the dataset. (If there are no options, it just makes the change that is in the dataset.) It is important to note that Toggle checks all of the datasets that appear in the Toggle Manager as well as the designated Toggle Specialty dataset, not just the dataset for the topmost tab. The image of the Toggle and Toggle Specialty Managers above shows 11 datasets — one for each tab plus the specialty — and when I run Toggle, it checks all of them for the selected word and displays all of the options. I choose the option I want and click OK. The word or phrase is replaced, no typing involved.

I keep the Toggle and Toggle Specialty Managers open as I edit so I can add new words to the datasets. The idea is to create the wheel once and reuse it; Toggle is a macro that lets me do that during editing.

Hotkeys: Worth Noting & Doing

EditTools macros are intended to make editing quicker, easier, more accurate, and more profitable. Consequently, easy access to regularly used macros is important. Most of the macros in EditTools can be assigned to keyboard shortcuts or Hotkeys. This is easily done by either clicking on the Setup Hotkey button, which is generally found at the bottom of a macro’s Manager, or by clicking the Hotkeys menu in the Preferences section of the EditTools toolbar.

I have assigned Hotkeys to those macros and managers that I use frequently. Because I keep the Toggle Word Manager open as I edit, it does not have an assigned hotkey — it is opened once and left open; in contrast, the Toggle macro is assigned a hotkey because it is not a macro that is (or can be) kept open but it is accessed frequently. Examples of other macros I have assigned to hotkeys are Enhanced Search, Count, & Replace; Smart Highlighter; and Insert Query. You can (and should) customize Hotkeys to fit your needs.

Moving On

Another macro I use often during editing is Enhanced Search, Count, and Replace, which is the subject of The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IX.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

April 5, 2017

Lyonizing Word: Microsoft Word’s Built-in Grammar Checker

by Jack Lyon

In my last missive, Lyonizing Word: Editing by Computer, I discussed some of the grammar checkers that seem to be popping up like mushrooms online. But I neglected to discuss Microsoft Word’s built-in grammar checker. Is it any good? And might it be of use to professional editors? Let’s find out.

First, I recommend that you set Word’s grammar checker to mark grammar errors in your document rather than “running” the grammar checker as a separate process. That way, you can spot and fix the errors as you read, making changes as necessary. Here’s how:

  1. Click File > Options > Proofing.
  2. Under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word,” check the box labeled “Mark grammar errors as you type.”
  3. Click the “OK” button.

Mark Errors

Now you should see grammar errors flagged in various ways:

Flagged Errors

The double blue underlines indicate possible problems with grammar, spacing, or punctuation.

The dark red dots indicate possible problems with what Microsoft calls “More,” which includes:

  • Clarity and conciseness.
  • Inclusive language.
  • Vocabulary choice.
  • Formal language.
  • Punctuation conventions.

The wavy red underlines indicate possible spelling errors.

For all of these I say “possible” because Word may get things wrong; you can’t blindly accept its recommendations. But they do give you something to consider, including things you might otherwise overlook.

To see and select Word’s recommendations, right-click the flagged text, which will give you a menu like this:

Menu

The grammar checker also flags many things that editors would be better off fixing with Word’s Find and Replace feature or FileCleaner in Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2014. If something can be fixed automatically, there’s no need to have Word check it and flag it; to do so would just mean more work, because you’d have to consider and manually change each flagged item. Examples include checking for punctuation marks preceded by a space, opening parentheses followed by a space, and double spaces between words and sentences. All such corrections can and should be automated.

Grammar Options

What, then, should you have Word’s grammar checker check? Anything that you think would be easy to overlook while editing. Here are the options that seem most useful to me:

Punctuation

Semicolon Use

Targets the use of a semicolon instead of a comma in two related but independent clauses that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction such as “and” or “but.”

  • Example: They don’t have a discussion board, the website isn’t big enough for one yet.
  • Correction: They don’t have a discussion board; the website isn’t big enough for one yet.

Comma Use

Targets a missing comma in front of an independent clause if the sentence begins with the conjunction “if.”

  • Example: If you’re like me you’ve already seen this movie.
  • Correction: If you’re like me, you’ve already seen this movie.

Comma after Introductory Phrases

Targets a missing comma after short introductory phrases such as “however” or “for example” before an independent clause that follows.

  • Example: First of all we must make sure the power is off.
  • Correction: First of all, we must make sure the power is off .

Clarity and Conciseness

Complex words

Targets complex and abstract words, and suggests using a simpler word to present a clear message and a more approachable tone.

  • Example: The magnitude of the problem is far beyond the scope of humanitarian aid.
  • Correction: The size of the problem is far beyond the scope of humanitarian aid.

Jargon

Targets jargon, technical terminology, or abbreviations that may confuse some readers.

  • Example: The company hired a well-known headhunting firm.
  • Correction: The company hired a well-known recruiting firm.

Nominalizations

Targets phrases relying on nouns that need extra words to introduce them and suggests using a single verb instead of nouns.

  • Example: The trade union is holding negotiations with the employers.
  • Correction: The trade union is negotiating with the employers.

Wordiness

Targets redundant and needless words.

  • Example: Her backpack was large in size.
  • Correction: Her backpack was large.

Words Expressing Uncertainty

Targets words that express uncertainty or lessen the impact of a statement.

  • Example: They largely decorated the kitchen with old bottles.
  • Correction: They decorated the kitchen with old bottles.

Inclusive Language

Gender-Specific Language

Targets gendered language which may be perceived as excluding, dismissive, or stereotyping.

  • Example: We need more policemen to maintain public safety.
  • Correction: We need more police officers to maintain public safety.

Vocabulary Choice

Clichés

Targets overused and predictable words or phrases and suggests to replace them with an alternative phrase.

  • Example: Institutions seem caught between a rock and a hard place.
  • Correction: Institutions seem caught in a difficult situation.

Formal Language

Contractions

Targets contractions (e.g., let’s, we’ve, can’t), which should be avoided in formal writing.

  • Example: The animal won’t be authorized to be out of the bag during the flight.
  • Correction: The animal will not be authorized to be out of the bag during the flight.

Informal Language

Targets informal words and phrases that are more appropriate for familiar, conversational settings.

  • Example: Our lounge includes comfy massage chairs.
  • Correction: Our lounge includes comfortable massage chairs.

Slang

Targets regional expressions or slang terms that may not be understood by a general audience and should be avoided in formal writing.

  • Example: My cat barfed all over my homework last night.
  • Correction: My cat vomited all over my homework last night. [Yes, a fine example of formal writing.]

Punctuation Conventions

Oxford Comma

Targets a missing comma after the second-to-last item in a list.

  • Example: I enjoy apples, pears and oranges.
  • Correction: I enjoy apples, pears, and oranges.

Other Options

Many more options are available; you can see the whole list at Microsoft’s website.

Many of the options seemed designed to help writers whose primary language is not English; a few appear to have been dreamed up by Microsoft’s marketing department as just one more thing to include. Fortunately, you can choose the items that you think might be most useful to you. Here’s how:

  1. Click File > Options > Proofing.
  2. Under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word,” click “Settings.”
  3. On the “Writing style” menu, select “Grammar” or “Grammar & More.”
  4. Scroll down to see all of the options available; select or clear any rules that you want the grammar checker to flag or ignore. (Note: Any changes you make here will apply to all documents that you open in Word. If you want to go back to Microsoft’s default settings, click “Reset All.”)
  5. When you’re finished, click the “OK” button.

Options

Writing Styles

Rich Adin asked, “What types of manuscripts does Microsoft’s grammar help work best with, and with what types will it only cause problems? For example, it is clear to me, based on my experience with grammar checkers, that they tend to do better with short, nontechnical documents than with long, technical documents. Writing a short essay with grammar checking on might be helpful; editing a 100-page medical chapter that is replete with acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, measures, chemical formulas, clinical terms, and the like with grammar checking turned on is inviting problems and a great slowing of the editing process.”

Versions of Word before 2016 included various writing styles that you could select for the kind of document you were editing:

  • Casual
  • Standard
  • Formal
  • Technical
  • Custom

Of course, “Custom” was probably the most useful style, as you could select the items you wanted it to check. Unfortunately, Word 2016 includes only two writing styles:

  • Grammar & More
  • Grammar

Those are of limited help, although Microsoft claims to be working on new styles to be added in future updates.

In the meantime, I’d recommend selecting only the grammar options that you think might really be of help. Here, less is definitely more.

If, however, the idea of using a more advanced grammar checker appeals to you, you might try Grammarly’s free add-in for Microsoft Word.

Toggling the Grammar Checker

Turning the grammar checker off and on requires digging through several Word menus—it’s not easily done. So let’s solve that problem with a macro:

Sub ToggleGrammarErrors()
   Dim GrammarCheck
   GrammarCheck = Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType
   If GrammarCheck = False Then
      Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType = True
      ActiveDocument.ShowGrammaticalErrors = True
   Else
      Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType = False
      ActiveDocument.ShowGrammaticalErrors = False
   End If
   Application.ScreenRefresh
End Sub

Here’s how the macro works:

Dim GrammarCheck

That line defines (“dimensions”) a variable called “GrammarCheck.” We’ll use that variable to hold the value of the current setting (grammar checker on or off).

GrammarCheck = Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType

Here, we get the value of the current setting. If the grammar checker is on, GrammarCheck is set to “True”; if it’s off, GrammarCheck is set to “False.”

If GrammarCheck = False Then
  Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType = True
  ActiveDocument.ShowGrammaticalErrors = True
Else
  Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType = False
  ActiveDocument.ShowGrammaticalErrors = False
End If

If the value of GrammarCheck is “False” (that is, the grammar checker is off), we turn it on by setting it to “True.” We also make sure grammar errors are showing in the active document. Otherwise (“Else”), if the grammar checker is on, we turn it off by setting it to “False.” We also turn off the display of grammar errors.

Application.ScreenRefresh

Finally, we need to refresh the screen. If we don’t, we’ll be wondering why our changes didn’t take effect, when in fact they did — a small Microsoft “oops.”

Unfortunately, Microsoft has not made it possible to set individual grammar options in a macro — yet another “oops.”

How to Add the Toggle Grammar Macro to Word & to the QAT

Here’s how to put this macro (or any other) into Microsoft Word so it will be available when you need it:

  1. Copy the text of the macro, starting with the first “Sub” and ending with the last “Sub.”
  2. Click the “View” tab on Microsoft Word’s ribbon.
  3. Click the “Macros” button.
  4. Type a name for the macro in the “Macro name” box — probably the name used after the first “Sub.” For this macro, that’s “ToggleGrammarError.”
  5. Click the “Create” button.
  6. Delete the “Sub [macro name]” and “End Sub” lines that Word created in the macro window. The macro window should now be completely empty (unless you already have other macros in there).
  7. Paste the macro text at the current insertion point.
  8. Click “File,” then “Close and Return to Microsoft Word.”

To actually use the macro:

  1. Place your cursor in your document.
  2. Click the “View” tab on Microsoft Word’s ribbon.
  3. Click the “Macros” button.
  4. Click the name of your macro to select it.
  5. Click the “Run” button. (If you wanted to delete the macro, you could press the “Delete” button instead.)

Here’s how to put the macro on Word’s QAT (Quick Access Toolbar):

  1. Locate the QAT (it’s probably on the top left of your screen either above or below Word’s Ribbon interface).
  2. Right-click the QAT.
  3. Click “Customize Quick Access Toolbar.”
  4. Under “Choose commands from:” click the dropdown list and select “Macros.”
  5. Find and select your macro in the list on the left.
  6. Click the “Add” button to add it to the QAT.
  7. Click the “OK” button to finish.

What About You?

Do you use Word’s grammar checker? If so, what options do you find most useful? I’d love to hear about your experiences with this.

Jack Lyon (editor@editorium.com) owns and operates the Editorium, which provides macros and information to help editors and publishers do mundane tasks quickly and efficiently. He is the author of Microsoft Word for Publishing Professionals, Wildcard Cookbook for Microsoft Word, and of Macro Cookbook for Microsoft Word. Both books will help you learn more about macros and how to use them.

April 3, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VII

My approach to editing began with creating a stylesheet and cleaning extraneous and unwanted typing mistakes from the document (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap II), moved through tagging the manuscript by typecoding or applying styles (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap III) and inserting bookmarks for callouts and other things I noticed while tagging the manuscript (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IV), to creating the project- or client-specific Never Spell Word dataset and running the Never Spell Word macro (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap V). The last stop was using wildcards to fix reference formatting problems, running the Journals macro to correct incorrect journal names, and editing the reference list (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VI). Now it’s time to tackle duplicate references using the Find Duplicate References macro.

Ancient History

Until recently, finding duplicate references was difficult and very time-consuming. I often deal with reference lists of 300+ references, with many lists running between 500 and 800 references and some running close to 2000 references. Before I created the Find Duplicate References macro, the only way I had to check for duplicate references in a numbered reference list was to use Word’s Find and do two or three different searches based on the same reference. One search might be on author names, another on article or book title, and a third on the cite information (i.e., journal name, year, volume, and pages). Unfortunately, many authors are sloppy with how they cite references so that the same reference is cited slightly differently each time it is cited. Sometimes a reference is cited completely, other times a reference is missing material.

Careful editing of references solved part of the problem, but duplicates of each reference still had to be searched for individually. Time — and profit — flew away.

Today’s Approach: Find Duplicate References

The process was taking too much time and costing me too much profit. I needed a better solution, which led to EditTools’ Find Duplicate References (FDR) macro, a much quicker and better solution to the problem of finding duplicate references.

As good as FDR is at finding duplicates (and from the heavy use I gave it in my last project, which project had more than 21,000 references in total, I know it is very good), it is important to remember that FDR, like other macros, is dumb — it will find only exactly what it is told to find, not something close. If two entries in the reference list are identical except that one has an extra space, FDR might not tag them as possible duplicates because of that extra space. Similarly, if the references are identical except that one uses a colon to separate portions of the article title and the other uses a dash, they will not be tagged as duplicates. Even the dashes have to be identical. For example, a page range that is identical except that one uses a hyphen as a separator and the other an en-dash will result in the cites not being tagged as identical. Again, close only counts in horseshoes.

Tip: Because the macro looks for matches within set number of characters, it is occasionally worthwhile to run the macro more the once using a different number of characters as the search parameter. The macro lets you choose 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, or 120 as the number of characters in the search string. Consequently, if you choose 96 characters and two references are identical except that one uses an em-dash and the other uses an en-dash in the article title, the macro will not find them as duplicates. (This is why the macro does two passes — one from the beginning of the reference forward and one from the end backward — in case there is a match from one direction even if not from both directions.) Changing the search string length to 72 might find the duplicates if the dashes appear as the 73rd character or later. Of course, it may still not find the duplicates if the opposing characters still appear within the search string length. The macro is dumb; the characters within the search string must be identical.

Moving References

The dialog that appears when FDR is run, which is shown below (you can make the image, as well as other images in this essay, larger by clicking on the image), provides detailed information about the macro. As I noted previously, it is my habit to move the reference list to its own file. I do this for several reasons: First, the Journals macro runs more quickly because there is less material it needs to check.

Second, if the manuscript requires my using Superscript Me (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VI), it eliminates the possibility that Superscript Me will make unwanted changes to reference cites (e.g., changing 1986;52(14):122 to 1986;5214:122 or 1986;5214:122).

Third, it makes it easier to renumber and/or add or delete references during editing of the manuscript (I use three monitors and have found it is easier and quicker to access and edit the references when the text is open on one monitor and the reference list is open on a second monitor).

Fourth, the Find Duplicate References macro does several things to the document on which it will run before running, namely, save the current document, create a copy of the current document, remove any highlighting and queries/comments, and accept all changes (see #1 in below image). The idea is that the duplicates will be found in the copy document but the editor will note them in the original document, which is the document that the client will see.

The Find Duplicate References dialog

The longer the reference list, the more important I think it is that the reference list is moved to its own document. (When I am done editing the manuscript, I reincorporate the reference list in the edited document. I turn tracking off in the manuscript and use Word’s Insert Text from File feature to reinsert the reference list with all its tracked changes. I then turn tracking back on in the manuscript and save the file.) But if you do not want to move the references, you can leave them where they are and use the Bookmarks buttons (see #4 below) to insert the required dupBegin and dupEnd bookmarks at the beginning and end, respectively, of the reference list. (These bookmarks are not needed if the reference list is in its own file.)

The FDR Bookmarks

Making Ready

The key to the Find Duplicate References macro is remembering that the macro only identifies information that is identical (see #2 in the FDR dialog image above). Consequently, after running the Journals macro and before running FDR, I edit the reference list, making the references consistent. All page ranges, for example, use an en-dash; every time the CDC is named as the author, the name is conformed to “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” In addition, I check URLs and add any missing information.

Finally, I tell the macro the number of characters I want it to match (see #3 in the FDR dialog image above; also see the Tip above). Because the macro is a two-pass macro, it will check that number of characters (including spaces) from the beginning of the reference forward (it ignores the reference number and begins the count from the first alphanumeric character that is part of the cite itself) and then from the end of the reference backward.

The Report

When done, FDR produces a “report” that it places at the beginning of the reference list that looks like this:

The FDR Report

When the report is generated I use Word’s Find Pane to check each entry. (For a more in-depth discussion of the process, see Find Duplicate References at the wordsnSync website.)

Marking Duplicates

As I go through the list of possible duplicates, I mark those I find that are duplicates. However, I do not want to make changes to the reference list at this point; I just want to mark the duplicates. To mark them, I do two things: First, I insert a standard comment using the Insert Query macro, replacing the underscore with the numbers of the references that are duplicates of the current reference:

Marking a Duplicate with Insert Query

I also insert a bookmark at each location using the Bookmarks macro. I use this format (see the highlighted text):

Using Bookmarks with Duplicate Cites

The bookmarks act as a check, as well as make it easier to deal with the duplicate references. When, for example, during editing of the text I come to the callout for reference 18, I can see — from the comment and the bookmarks — that three other references are identical to 18, namely references 72, 91, and 102. Should the author have numbered references out of order and called out reference 91 before 18, I can see at a glance which references are duplicates. The bookmarks let me easily navigate to each of the duplicate references; once I have deleted a duplicate reference, I can delete its bookmark. The bookmarks provide an easy way to track which duplicates remain.

Recording & Reporting Duplicates

I also mark the information in the Reference Number Order Check macro (which is the subject of The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VIII). The Reference Number Order Check macro can provide my client with a report showing which references were deleted as duplicates and what those references were renumbered as. A sample report is shown here:

Sample Report of Duplicate References

As the sample report shows, references 78 (#5) and 201 (#6) were deleted and all callouts numbered 78 were renumbered as 19 and all callouts numbered 201 were renumbered as 85.

Find Duplicate References works very well. In one chapter I edited in a recent project, the macro found 23 duplicate references in a 700-entry reference list (one reference was duplicated five times!). It took the macro seconds to find those duplicates; had I looked for them without using FDR, it would have added hours to the project and turned the project into a profit-loser.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

March 29, 2017

Circus 1903

Filed under: A Video Interlude — americaneditor @ 6:21 am
Tags:

This video is short but well worth watching. It makes a nice break from the editing day.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

March 27, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VI

So far I’ve created a stylesheet and cleaned the document (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap II), and tagged the manuscript by typecoding or applying styles (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap III), inserted bookmarks for callouts and other things I noticed while tagging the manuscript (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IV), and created the project- or client-specific Never Spell Word dataset and run the Never Spell Word macro (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap V). Now it’s time to tackle the reference list.

Fixing Reference Callouts

Before I get into the reference list itself, I need to mention another macro that I run often but not on all files — Superscript Me. Nearly all of the manuscripts I work on want numbered reference callouts superscripted and without parentheses or brackets. The projects usually adhere to AMA style. Unfortunately, authors are not always cooperative and authors provide reference callouts in a variety of ways, including inline in parentheses or brackets, superscripted in parentheses or brackets, with spacing between the numbers, and on the wrong side of punctuation. Superscript Me, shown below, fixes many of the problems. (You can make an image in this essay larger by clicking on the image.)

Superscript Me

I select the fixes I need and run the macro. Within seconds the macro is done. One note of caution: It is important to remember that macros are dumb — macros do as instructed and do not exercise any judgement. Consequently, even though Superscript Me fixes many problems, it can also create problems. My experience over the decade that I have been using this particular macro has been that the fixing is worth the errors that the macro introduces, even though they require manual correction during editing. The introduced errors are few, whereas the fixes are often hundreds.

Tip: Superscript Me is a powerful, timesaving (and therefore profitmaking) macro, but as noted above, it is dumb and just as it can do good, it can do harm — especially to reference lists. Before using Superscript Me on the manuscript, move the reference list to its own file. Doing so will ensure that Superscript Me makes no changes to the reference list, only to the main text material, saving a lot of undo work.

Wildcarding the Reference List

By this point, the reference list has been generally cleaned and moved to its own file.

Tip & Caution: Wildcard macros can be a gift from heaven or a disaster from hell. I like to do what I can to ensure they are a gift and not a disaster. Consequently, I move the reference list to its own file. I know I have said this before, but wildcarding is another reason for separating the reference list from the manuscript file. Often what I want changed in a reference list, I do not want changed in the primary text; similarly, what I want changed in the primary text, I do not (usually) want changed in the reference list. But like all other macros, wildcards are dumb and cannot tell text from reference list. It can do no harm moving the reference list to its own file and working on it separately from the main text, so be cautious and move it.

Individual problems, however, have not been addressed. I scan the list to see what the problems are and whether the problems are few or many. For example, if author names are supposed to be

Smith AB, Jones EZ

but are generally punctuated like

Smith A.B., Jones E. Z.

or in some other way not conforming to the correct style, I will use wildcard macros and scripts to correct as many of these “errors” as I can. Wildcards can address all types of reference format errors, not just author-name errors. For example, a common problem that I encounter is for the cite information to be provided in this format:

18: 22-30, 1986.

or

1986 Feb 22; 18: 22-30.

when it needs to be

1986;18:22–30.

These formatting errors are fixable with wildcards and scripts.

Scripts are like a supermacro. A script is a collection of many individual wildcard macros that have been combined into one macro — the script — and run sequentially. One of my reference scripts is shown here:

Wildcard Find & Replace Script

In the image, the active script file (#1) is identified and what it does (broadly) is described in the description field (#2). The wildcard macros that are included in the script and the order in which they will run are shown in the bottom field (#3). Included is a description of what each of the included wildcard macros will do (#4). For example, the first wildcard macro that the script will run will change Smith, C., to Smith C, and the second wildcard macro to run will change Smith, A.B., to Smith AB,.

The wildcard macros were created using the Wildcard Find and Replace (WFR) macro shown below. In the image, the example wildcard macro (arrow) is the same as the second macro in the script above, that is, it changes Smith, A.B., to Smith AB,.

Wildcard Find & Replace

Creating the macros using WFR is easy as the macro inserts the commands in correct form for you (for more information, see the online description of WFR). Saving the individual wildcard macros, assembling them into scripts, and saving the scripts, as well as running individual wildcard macros or scripts, is easy with WFR. (For some in-depth discussion of wildcards, see these essays: The Business of Editing: Wildcarding for Dollars; The Only Thing We Have to Fear: Wildcard Macros; and The Business of Editing: Wildcard Macros and Money.)

With some projects I get lucky and the authors only have a few references that are a formatting mess and when there are only a messy few, I fix them manually rather than run the macros.

Fixing Page Ranges

If the references are in pretty decent shape (formatwise) so that I do not need to run WFR, I will run the Page Number Format macro (shown below) to put the page range numbering in the correct format For example, the macro will automatically change a range of 622-6 to 622–626, 622–6, or 622.

Page Number Format

Making Incorrect Journal Names Correct

At long last it is time to run the Journals macro. As my journals datasets have grown, they have made reference editing increasingly more efficient. It takes time to build the datasets, but the Journals Manager (shown below) lets me build multiple datasets simultaneously.

The Journals Manager

As shown in the image, I can build five datasets (arrows) simultaneously. My primary dataset — AMA with Period — has 212,817 journal entries (see circled items).

Tip: Move the reference list to its own file to shorten the time it takes to run the Journals macro. The larger your journals dataset, the more time the Journals macro requires to complete a run. Each iteration of the Journals macro searches from the top of the document to the end as it looks for matches. Leaving the reference list in the manuscript means the macro has that much more to search. In a recent timing test of the Journals macro using my primary dataset and a 50-page document with 110 references without separating out the list, the macro was still running after 2 hours and was not near completion. Running the Journals macro with the same dataset and on the same reference list — but with the list in its own file — took less than 10 minutes. (Think about how long it would take you to manually verify and correct 110 Journal names.)

The Journals macro searches through the reference list for journal names and compares what is in the reference list against what is in the chosen dataset. If the name in the reference list is correct, the macro highlights it in green (#5), as shown below; if it is incorrect, the macro corrects it and highlights the change in cyan (#6). All changes are done with Tracking on.

The Reference List After Running Journals Macro

The Journals macro does two things for me: First, if the incorrect variation of the journal name is in the dataset, it corrects the incorrect journal name so that I do not have to look it up and fix it myself (see #6 above). If the incorrect variation is not in the dataset, the macro makes no change. For example, if the author has written New Engand J. Med but that variation is not in the dataset, it will be left, not corrected to N Engl J Med. When I go through the reference list, I will add the variation to the dataset so it is corrected next time. Second, if the journal name is in the dataset, it highlights correct names, which means that I know at a glance that the journal name is correct and I do not have to look it up (see #5 above).

It is true that the names of some of the more frequently cited journals become familiar over time but there are thousands of journals and even with the frequently cited ones with which I am familiar, correcting an incorrect name takes time.

It is important to remember that time is money (profit) and that the less time I need to spend looking up journal names, the more profit I make.

After I run the Journals macro, I open the Journals Manager (see above) and I go through the reference list, doing whatever editing is required and fixing what needs fixing that my macros didn’t fix. Because of the current size of my journals datasets, there aren’t usually many journal names that are not highlighted. When I come to one that is not highlighted either green (indicating it is correct) or cyan (indicating it was incorrect but is now correct), I look up the name and abbreviation in the National Library of Medicine online catalog and other online sources. When I locate the information, I add it and the most common author variations (based on my experience editing references for more than 30 years) to the five datasets via the Journals Manager.

I take the time to add the journal and variations because once the variations have been added, I’ll not have to deal with them again. Spend a little time now, save a lot of time in the future.

In addition to editing the references for format and content, I also keep an eye out for those that need to be removed from the reference list and placed in text — the personal communication–type reference — and for those that need to be divided into multiple references. When I come across one, I “mark” it using a comment. For example, using the Insert Query macro (which is discussed in the later essay The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap X), I insert the comment shown below for unpublished material:

Query for Unpublished Material

When I come to the in-text callout during the manuscript editing, I move the reference text to the manuscript, delete the callout and the reference, and renumber using the Reference # Order Check macro (which is discussed in the later essay The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VIII).

Now that the Journals macro has been run and the references edited, the next stop on my road is the search for duplicate references, which is the subject of The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VII.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

March 22, 2017

On Today’s Bookshelf XXVIII

Since my last On Today’s Bookshelf post (On Today’s Bookshelf XXVII) my library has grown. I want to point out a couple of the books.

The first is Joseph Nigg’s The Phoenix: An Unnatural Biography of a Mythical Beast. It is listed below under nonfiction as I wasn’t really certain how to classify the book. It is a well-written “biography” of a fiction. The phoenix has played an important role in the rise (and fall) of civilizations and remains a cultural constant. The second book I want to point to, which I have not yet read, is American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution by A. Roger Ekirch. I bought this book because of its relevance to the problem of sanctuary today. I thought a historical perspective might be worthwhile.

The list includes several interesting biographies (particularly Karl Marx and Rasputin) and several books that fit into my lifelong quest to understand genocide, especially the Holocaust.

Here is a list of some of the hardcovers and ebooks that I have acquired and either read or added to my to-be-read pile since the last On Today’s Bookshelf post. Hopefully, you will find some books of interest to you:

Nonfiction –

  • The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 by Richard J. Evans
  • Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union by Daniel W. Crofts
  • Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 by Volker Ullrich
  • Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips
  • Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea by Mitchell Duneier
  • Harry Truman and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Shogan
  • Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion by Gareth Stedman Jones
  • Why? Explaining the Holocaust by Peter Hayes
  • Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949 by David Cesarani
  • The Phoenix: An Unnatural Biography of a Mythical Beast by Joseph Nigg
  • The Gestapo: A History of Horror by Jacques Delarue
  • Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith
  • Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
  • Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age by Donna M. Lucey
  • Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
  • The Hands of War: A Tale of Endurance and Hope, from a Survivor of the Holocaust by Marione Ingram
  • Madison and Jefferson by Andrew Burstein
  • American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution by A. Roger Ekirch
  • Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Q. Whitman
  • The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust by Amos N. Guiora
  • Who Betrayed the Jews? The Realities of Nazi Persecution in the Holocaust by Agnes Grunwald-Spier

Fiction –

  • The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller
  • Recluce Tales: Stories from the World of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
  • Of Sand and Malice Made: A Shattered Sands Novel by Bradley Beaulieu
  • With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu
  • The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Series #1); The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Series #2); and The Last Mortal Bond (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Series #3) by Brian Staveley
  • Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
  • The Stars Are Legion (Signed Book) by Kameron Hurley
  • The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington
  • Whill of Agora (Books 1-4) by Michael James Ploof
  • Earthrise (Her Instruments, #1) by M.C.A. Hogarth
  • Black & Blue by Emma Jameson
  • Rise of the Dragons (Kings and Sorcerers Book 1) and Rise of the Valiant (Kings and Sorcerers Book #2) by Morgan Rice
  • Unforeseen (Thomas Prescott Series #1) by Nick Pirog
  • The Lead Cloak by Erik Hanberg
  • The Smuggler’s Gambit by Sara Whitford
  • The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross
  • Code Name: Camelot – A Noah Wolf Thriller by David Archer
  • A Quest of Heroes (Book #1 in the Sorcerer’s Ring) by Morgan Rice
  • Slave, Warrior, Queen (Of Crowns and Glory Book 1) by Morgan Rice
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

For the complete collection of On Today’s Bookshelf essays, click on this link. Share books you recommend with us by listing them in a comment.

I mentioned retirement in an earlier essay (see Thinking About Retirement). Looking at my to-be-read (TBR) pile and wondering how many years it will take me to read all of the books I currently have in the TBR pile, the ones that I have preordered and will be coming, and the ones I do not currently know about but that I will buy in the coming months has finally made me take the first steps toward retirement. I have begun to say “no” to project offers more frequently and am spending more time reading. The yet-to-be-answered question is how long I will resist saying yes to new projects.

Richard Adin An American Editor

March 20, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap V

I am now nearly at the point where I actually begin editing the manuscript itself. I’ve created a stylesheet and cleaned the document (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap II), and tagged the manuscript by typecoding or applying styles (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap III), and inserted bookmarks for callouts and other things I noticed while tagging the manuscript (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IV). Now it is time to create the project- or client-specific Never Spell Word dataset and then run the Never Spell macro.

Never Spell Word (NSW) lets me create project- or client-specific datasets. If I know, for example, that the client prefers “distension” to “distention,” I can, using NSW mark every instance of “distension” with green highlighting, which tells me that this is the correct spelling, and change every instance of “distention” to “distension,” which change will be made with tracking on and then highlighted in cyan to visually clue me that a change has been made (I can choose to make the changes with tracking off, but that is not something I ever do).

Tip: It is important to remember that the tab names, such as “Drugs,” in the Never Spell Manager, and in nearly all managers, can be changed to whatever name best suits your editorial business. Use the Change Tab Name button. The tab names that show when you install EditTools are placeholder names.

Highlighting is integral to EditTools. Highlighting attracts the eye and by using different highlight colors, I can, at a glance, tell whether I need to review or check something. Because of the types of books I work on, it is not unusual for Word to put a red squiggle under a word or phrase that is actually correct — it just isn’t in Word’s dictionary. Most editors would stop and check the squiggled word, but, for example, if I see it is highlighted in green, I know that it is correct and I do not have to check it — I know I have already checked the word and then added it to a tab in the Never Spell Manager.

The point is that NSW enables me to mark (via highlighting) items that are correct, items that need to be checked, items that are correct but may not be capitalized correctly, items that should never be spelled out, and items that should always be spelled out according to the stylesheet and client instructions. Some examples are shown in the image below (you can make this image, as well as other images in this essay, larger by clicking on image):

A Dataset in Notepad++

The datasets are text files. The above image shows a project-specific dataset that was opened in Notepad++ (Notepad++ is an outstanding free text editor that is a replacement for Microsoft’s Notepad). The * and $ preceding an entry indicate case sensitive and whole word only, respectively. For example (#1 in image above),

*$ms | cyan -> msec

means: find instances of “ms” as a lowercase whole word (in other words, “ms” but not, e.g., “forms” or “MS”) and change it to “msec.” What I will see in the manuscript is this:

Change Example

The cyan tells me at a glance that this has been changed by NSW. If the change is incorrect for some reason, I can reject the change, which is why I do it with tracking on.

I use NSW as a way to implement stylesheet decisions, as well as client preferences. An example is “F/M” (#2 in above image). The nice thing is that I do not need to format the entry. The Never Spell Manager, shown below, makes it easy — I just fill in the blanks, and if appropriate check one or both checkboxes, and click Add. I can easily correct an erroneous entry by double-clicking on it, correcting it, and clicking Update. And the Manager stays open and available until I click Close. With this Manager, I can make additions to any of the tabs.

The NSW Manager

I also use NSW as a way to mark things I already know are correct or incorrect and need changing so that I spend less doing spell checking tasks and more time doing higher-level editing. When I come across a new term, such as the name of a new organism, if appropriate I add it to one of the NSW datasets after I verify it so that next time it will be highlighted and, if necessary, corrected. For example, authors often type ASO3 rather than the correct AS03 (the first is the letter O then second is a zero). Having come across that mistake often, I added the instruction to change ASO3 to AS03 to my Commonly Misspelled Words dataset. Another example is the word towards. The correct spelling in American English is toward, so I added the word towards and the correction (toward) to an NSW dataset.

When I run the NSW macro, I am actually running more than what is contained in the Never Spell Words dataset — I can choose to run one, some, or all of the datasets represented by the tabs in the Never Spell Manager shown here:

Choosing Datasets

In this example, I am running all of the datasets except the Confusables dataset.

Tip: Using only the datasets that are applicable to the project allows the NSW macro to complete faster. This is especially true as your datasets grow.

I run the NSW macro over the main text; I do not run it over the reference list. My habit is to move the reference list to its own document after I style/code and do cleanup, but before I run NSW. The NSW macro requires the placement of a bookmark called “refs” at the point in the manuscript where I want the macro to stop checking text. Consequently, I do not have to move the reference list to a separate file if the list is after the material I want the macro to go over — I can just put the bookmark in the reference list head or in a line that precedes the list. I move the reference list to its own file because my next step will be to run the Journals macro, and that macro works faster and better when the reference list is in its own file, especially if the dataset is large as mine are (e.g., my AMA style dataset runs more than 212,000 entries).

As I said earlier, I keep the Never Spell Manager (shown above) open while I edit. Doing so lets me add new material to the various datasets as I edit the manuscript. The idea of the multiple tabs is to be able to have specialized datasets that are usable for all (or most) projects; for me, only the Never Spell Words dataset is project/client specific. When I come across the name of a study, for example, such as AFFIRM (Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management), I enter the information in the Studies/Trial tab dataset, because that is information that is neither project nor client specific.

I also keep open the Toggle Managers because when I come across something like the AFFIRM study I want to enter it into the appropriate Toggle dataset, too. But the Toggle macro is the subject of a later Roadmap essay (The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VIII).

After running NSW, it is time to turn attention to the reference list. The Journals macro and the Wildcard Find and Replace macro are the subjects of The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VI.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

March 15, 2017

The Business of Editing: A Page Is a Page — Or Is It?

When editors speak of how to charge for a project, they are referring to one of these three methods: by the page, by the project, or by the hour. Although editors speak in these terms (page, project, hour), the truth is that every calculation comes down to the page.

Editing is based on the page

Regardless of an editor’s method of calculating a fee, a fundamental question that every one of them must answer — consciously or subconsciously — is this: How many pages can I edit per hour in a project like the one proffered? The number of pages you can edit in an hour sets the basis for your rate and establishes your profitability. (I am guessing that your client does not have an unlimited editing budget; in 33 years of editing I have yet to be told, “My editing budget is unlimited, so take as long as you need.”) Thus the question: What is a page?

Even if you charge by the hour, you are assuming that you can edit a certain number of pages per hour. You might assume, when estimating a project, that you can edit 10 pages an hour and price the project accordingly, but if you soon discover you can only edit two pages an hour, you are likely to find that you are losing your shirt on the project. (It is to “prevent” this scenario from happening that editors claim they charge by the hour. It is the rare client, however, who will pay you for an unlimited number of hours, even if you explain the project’s difficulties. Charging by the hour often does not prevent the described scenario. In my experience, it is smarter to charge by the page or project, and when you are enmeshed in a money-losing project, you should figure out how to make it and subsequent similar projects profitable.)

Pages are the basis not only for the fee but also for the schedule. Editors want to know a “page count,” even if they are charging by the hour, so that they can calculate how much time a project will take — a critical consideration for scheduling purposes. That brings us full circle to the assumption that the editor can edit x pages per hour.

Pages are the foundation of editing.

What is a page?

Defining a page is critical to editor–client communication. Experienced editors know that; less-experienced editors soon learn it. Yet rarely is there a true discussion of what constitutes a page. Defining a page is also critical to an editor’s profitability. The defined page forms the foundation on which many further decisions, such as what to charge, are based.

When people in the editing business ask how a page is defined, they usually ask the question obliquely — What should I charge? How should I calculate what to charge? — instead of directly: What constitutes a page and why? A common response to the charge question is to ask how long the manuscript is, with the expectation that the response will be x words. No one questions whether counting words is the best method for calculating length. (The most common response is simply to toss out a number such as $25/hour, citing some survey as authority — without anyone ever wondering about or questioning the legitimacy of the survey — or $1/page, without any discussion of what constitutes a page or of the legitimacy or basis of the stated per-page price. The most financially successful editors have calculated their required effective hourly rate and have based their pricing on that, not on what colleagues claim is “standard” pricing, or on what some very unscientific survey claims is “standard.” [For information on calculating your required effective hourly rate, see the series Business of Editing: What to Charge. Some other essays on pricing are So, How Much Am I Worth?, The Business of Editing: Why $10 Can’t Make It, and Business of Editing: The Quest for Rate Charts.])

When the discussion does get to the question of calculating a page, the most common response is 250 words = 1 page.

This equivalency has been around for decades, and its continued legitimacy is based on that longevity. The equivalency came about in the days of typewriters. Editing was done on paper, and manuscripts were required (unless, of course, the author ignored the requirements, as authors so often do today) to be single-sided, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. The typewriter font was universally Courier 12-point, a monospaced font that ensured that all spacing between words and characters was uniform. Unlike today’s word-processing programs, authors couldn’t create all the little variations that currently haunt manuscripts and editors (such as adjusting kerning to squeeze more words on a line, or using multiple font sizes to “format” the manuscript). Most manuscripts were straight text as far as the editor was concerned. (There was often a separate editor who dealt with figures and tables.) So, for decades 250 words = 1 page was a good equivalency.

Personal computers and word-processing software began taking over in the 1980s, and things likewise began to change for editors. A job that was once divided among specialists became a unitary job to be done by one editor. Where previously a typesetter would clean up files, that task became the editor’s job. Everything changed except the equivalency. Authors tried “typesetting” their manuscripts so that editors and publishers would “know” what the author wanted the text to look like. And editorial headaches became more frequent and more enduring.

Even as the workload increased and the pay stagnated, the equivalency carried on. It is still a living, breathing thing — just ask on any editors’ forum what constitutes a page and their answers will predominantly be 250 words = 1 page.

It does and it doesn’t

Let’s begin with this: Regardless of what the formula is, the equivalency is arbitrary. It isn’t, today, scientifically based. It is, however, a method to increase or decrease the amount a client pays an editor.

Consider this example: According to Word, the chapter before you, as submitted by the author, is 118 manuscript pages, has 26,967 words, 161,167 characters without spaces, and 187,327 characters with spaces. Few clients or editors will accept the 118 manuscript pages as the chapter size. After all, who knows, for example, what spacing and font sizes are used throughout the chapter? And either (and both) of those can affect true count. Using the standard equivalency, this chapter is 108 manuscript pages. Most editors would go no further. But suppose the page count were based on 1600 characters with spaces? The page count is now 118 (rounding fractional page results [117.08] up); and if it were based on 1600 characters without spaces, it would be 101 manuscript pages.

The key

Note that the number (250 words, 1600 characters) used is, today, somewhat arbitrary. The 250 words formula has historical precedent, but not necessarily modern-day relevancy. It is not unusual to find publisher and packager clients, for example, who define 1 page as 300 words or 1800 characters without spaces. There is no magical method for determining the number. The key to this discussion and to the equivalency is to determine the factors, including profitability, that you consider in deciding what should constitute a page for your particular type of work. And then you should select a number — and method of counting — that will represent those factors and that you can articulate and defend to the client as best corresponding to the intricacies of the manuscript.

There are two noteworthy points. First, how a page is defined affects the page count. Second, the method used counts only the text items that Microsoft Word can count; for example, it does not include the 22 graphic images that accompany the chapter, nor does it take into account the difficulty of the edit (the light vs. medium vs. heavy concept), and it doesn’t include in the count all the formatting and unformatting tasks the editor is expected to perform.

And another problem is…

Another problem with the word count method — and a major problem for me because of the type of books I generally edit — is that Microsoft Word counts words such as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide as being the same as pain; that is, Word counts N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide as one word, just as it counts pain as one word. But the two are not, wordwise, equivalent — at least not to my thinking. A character count, however, treats N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (29 characters) and pain (4 characters) equivalently — that is, 1 character = 1 character.

If I were editing a text-only novel, the 250 words = 1 page equivalency might work fine. From my perspective, everything would balance out; the fact that the average English word is five characters would probably offer a fair equivalency. But when a manuscript is more complex and the tasks are more involved (e.g., the chapter has 600 references that need to be formatted and checked; reference callouts need to be changed from inline to superscript; dozens of compounds have to be checked against The Merck Index), then the equivalency falters in its purpose and a different formulation of the equivalent of one manuscript page has to be devised.

(It is worth noting that many editors will respond that these factors and problems should be, and are, addressed by the rate rather than the count. That works well is your clients are amenable to paying a high rate; my experience has been that it is significantly more difficult to get a client to pay a higher rate than to get the client to accept a method of counting pages that differs from the standard equivalency. It is also important to understand that not all factors are equal and that the weight to be given a particular factor can vary from manuscript to manuscript. Finally, it is easier to set a variety of rates when an editor’s clientele are individual authors rather than publishers and packagers. Publishers and packagers expect a long-term many-project relationship and a single rate and method of calculating a page for all projects without regard for complexity or other factors.)

Don’t get me wrong. If you are editing chemistry textbooks, have investigated page equivalencies, and are satisfied with the “standard” equivalency formulation, use it. The key is that you have considered whether the “standard” equivalency sufficiently accounts for the types of problems you encounter.

There is no single, set equivalency that works well in all situations. In my editing, I deal with words of the N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide type and with lots of references and figures. Consequently, a character-based formula works best for me. This I have documented many times over the years. I have also learned that I can ignore graphic images when doing my count because the formula I use is sufficient to account for them; no additional assessment or count is needed. I also know, from experience, that using a character count gives me a more accurate idea of how many pages I can edit in an hour than a word count does.

The bottom line is…

Editors need to act like good businesspeople. They must evaluate how best to calculate a page equivalency for their type of work. Editors should not automatically assume that the “standard” equivalency is the fairest option for them. When determining the equivalency they’ll use, they need to keep in mind all the variables that are missing from Word’s count, and also all the tasks they will be expected to perform in addition to content editing.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

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