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”). 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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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
      Options.CheckGrammarAsYouType = False
      ActiveDocument.ShowGrammaticalErrors = False
   End If
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
  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.


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 ( 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

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