An American Editor

February 10, 2016

EditTools & My Editing Process: Part I

I have been asked to describe how EditTools fits in the editing process. I have avoided doing so because each editor works differently and the way I edit suits me but may not suit someone else. However, I have been asked that again as part of a question about EditTools, and I have decided that perhaps the time has come to explain how I use EditTools in my editing process.

Usually the manuscripts I edit — all nonfiction, with a majority being STEM (science, technology, engineering, and medicine) — come to me in groups of a few chapters. Occasionally I will receive the entire book, but even then it is usually divided into chapter files. When the book is given to me as a single file, I divide it into chapter files.

I know some editors prefer to work with a single file that represents the whole book. I do not, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the books I usually work on are much too long to effectively edit as a single file — sometimes a single chapter runs more than 400 manuscript pages. In addition, Word is not the most stable of programs, and the larger the file (and the more that goes on in the file), the more likely it is that Word will crash — and keep on crashing. More important, however, is that by working on chapter-size files, I can add to my EditTools datasets and have those additions applied in future chapters. Without reading every word, I cannot know in advance every decision that I need to make.

Before-Editing Steps

Step 1: Delete Unused Styles

I receive basically two types of files: ones that the authors designed and ones that the clients have manipulated before sending them to me (in my work, authors are not my clients). Sometimes I need to apply a template to the file. In the case of the author-designed file or a file to which I need to apply a template, the first thing I do is run the Delete Unused Styles macro (#1) shown here:

Delete Unused Styles

Delete Unused Styles

By running this macro, I eliminate many (not all) of the author-created styles that aren’t used in the document and narrow the number of styles that I need to deal with.

Step 2: Cleanup & Style Language

After that, I run the Cleanup macro (#2). The Cleanup macro has its own Manager (shown below), which lets me set what I want cleaned up (#3). It also lets me link to a Specialty file (#4) for additional cleanup that is specific to the project (or type of project) I am working on. The Manager lets me set the order of the cleanup by moving the items around, although I don’t bother — instead I run the macro twice. The main field shows me what will be done (#5). And, as is true of all EditTools datasets, I can save my cleanup profile (#6). What that means is that I can create custom cleanups based on client or type of project or any other criterion and recall them as needed.

Cleanup macro

Cleanup macro

As part of this step, I also run the Change Style Language macro, which is found under Other on the Other menu, as shown here.

process 2 A

Change Style Language

I run the macro to make sure that the language used is uniformly U.S. English and to make sure Spell Check is on. Authors tend to use multiple languages and sometimes turn off Spell Check. The macro gives me the option to choose any Word-supported language and to turn Spell Check on or off, as shown here:

process 2 B

Choosing the Spell Check Language

After I have made my choices, I click Update and the macro will update the document’s styles.

This is also the step where I run the Superscript Me macro, which is found on the References menu, as shown here:

Superscript Me

Superscript Me

Superscript Me lets me change how reference numbers appear in the text. For example, if the author has the numbers in square brackets (e.g., [122]) when they should be superscript without the brackets, I can quickly make the change throughout the document by running this macro. The macro also lets me choose how the numbers are to appear in relation to punctuation; the choices are between the AMA and the Chicago options, as shown here:

Setting Superscript Me's Options

Setting Superscript Me’s Options

(Tip: If the numbers are correctly superscripted but incorrectly placed in relation to punctuation, select None and the correct style type, then run the macro. The numbers will remain superscript, but the style will be corrected. This will also clear out any spaces in superscripted numbers following a comma [e.g., superscripted 132, 134 will become superscripted 132,134].)

Step 3A: Coding & Styling

After the Cleanup step, I code or style the document. In the “olden” days, I applied the codes or styles as I edited, but with EditTools, it is easier and quicker to apply them before editing begins. I may change some during editing (e.g., change a numbered list to a bulleted list), but nearly all remain as originally coded/styled.

Most of the projects I work on require me to either add coding or apply client template styles to the text. If it is codes, I use the Code Inserter Manager; if it is styles, I use the Style Inserter Manager. Consequently, creating the Inserter dataset for the project is next on my to-do list. Because clients tend to use the same styles and codes, I generally open an existing dataset and just make necessary changes, such as in the way a head is to appear (e.g., title case bold, all capitals, or sentence case italic). Here is a Code Inserter Manager dataset:

Code Inserter Manager dataset

Code Inserter Manager dataset

Note that the sample is the 9th edition of a book (#7). I took the project-specific Code Inserter dataset for the 8th edition of this book and copied it for the 9th edition, and then made whatever changes were required, such as in head casing (#8) or options (#9) or code to be used (#10). Within a few minutes, I was set to begin coding.

The same is true with the Style Inserter, shown below. Often a client uses standard designs rather than creating a new design for each book. The client tells me the standard design to use for the project and I open the style dataset (#7) for that design. Again, I may need to make some adjustments (#8, #9, #10), but once I have created the basic dataset, I can reuse it repeatedly (#7). The Style Inserter Manager is very similar to the Code Inserter Manager.

Style Inserter Manager dataset

Style Inserter Manager dataset

Step 3B: Bookmarks

At the same time that I open the Inserter (Step 3A), I open the Bookmarks macro, shown below. (In cases where I do not have to code/style, this is the only portion of Step 3 that I do.) I always add two bookmarks — refs, which is required by the NSW macro, and editing paused here, which is my generic bookmark for when I pause in editing for some reason (arrows & #11) — to every manuscript. In addition, as I code/style, I insert a bookmark at each table (e.g., Table 01, Table 02, etc.) and figure (e.g., Fig 01, Fig 02, etc.), and at any other item, such as boxed text, that I may need to find again. I use the bookmarks as a way to track what tables and figures have been called out in text and edited. They also provide an easy way to get from my current location to where the table or figure is located, and back again. After I edit a figure, for example, Fig 01, I change its bookmark name to x Fig 01 edited. The x causes the bookmark to move to the end of the list and edited tells me that it has been edited. This makes it easy to catch a missed text callout as well as to get to and from a figure, table, or other bookmarked text.



Part II continues the preediting steps (Steps 4 and 5) and introduces the first editing step (Step 6), which is editing the references. Part III discusses the final step (Step 7), editing the text.

Richard Adin, An American Editor


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  1. Very helpful. I’ve often wondered what many of the EditTools elements were designed for, as references, lists, figures, and tables don’t come up in the fiction work I do.


    Comment by Carolyn — February 10, 2016 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for writing the article I had been looking forward to for quite some time. Now, I eagerly await parts II and III. I hope EditTools has something on detecting duplicate references, something on reference renumbering, and something on changing name-date (author-year) references to numbered references.


    Comment by Vivek — February 11, 2016 @ 9:45 am | Reply

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