An American Editor

July 17, 2017

From the Archives: The Business of Editing: Killing Me Softly

(The following essay was originally published on
 An American Editor on July 25, 2012.)

I recently reviewed the various groups I am a member of on LinkedIn and was astounded to find a U.S.-based editor soliciting editing work and offering to do that work for $1 per page in all genres. Some further searching led me to discover that this person was not alone in her/his pricing.

What astounds me is less that someone is offering to do editorial work for such a low fee but that people actually believe that is a fair price to pay for professional editing. I recently spoke with an author whose ebooks are badly edited — yes, edited is the correct word — who told me that he/she had paid a professional editor $200 to edit the novel in question and so was surprised at all the errors the novel contained.

Recently, I wrote about the publisher who wants copyediting but calls it proofreading in an attempt to pay a lower price (see The Business of Editing: A Rose By Another Name Is Still Copyediting). In my own business, I have been under pressure to reduce my fee or see the work offshored.

I am being killed softly. (And for those of you who enjoy a musical interlude, here is Roberta Flack singing Killing Me Softly!)

Unfortunately, so is my profession for the past quarter century being killed softly.

I write “being killed softly” because that is exactly what is happening. There are no trumpets blaring; clients aren’t shouting and ordering me to work for starvation wages. Instead, what they are doing is saying that they can get the services I provide for significantly less money because the competition is so keen, driving downward pricing.

There is no discussion about whether the services clients get for less money are valuable services. The base assumption is that any editor will do and any editor will do a competent, quality job. Alas, there is little to disprove the assumption in the absence of postediting proofreading, but that work is being driven by the same dynamic and so clients set a mouse to catch a mouse, rather than a cat to catch a mouse. If the proofreader’s skills match the skills of the editor, little by way of error will be caught. We see this everyday when we pick up a book and discover errors that should have been caught by a professional editor and/or proofreader.

When passing out the blame for this situation, we can look elsewhere — to the international conglomerate bean counters, to the Internet that has brought globalization to the editing profession, to the death of locally owned publishing companies that count quality higher than cost — or we can look to ourselves — to our insistence on being wholly independent and our resistance to banding together to form a strong lobbying group, to our willingness to provide stellar service for suboptimal wages, to the ease with which we permit entrance to a skilled profession. Looking at ourselves is where we should look.

Individually, we may strike gnat-like blows against this professional decline, but these will continue to prove of little avail. The profession of editing used to be a highly respected profession. It always was an underpaying profession, but it was a prestigious profession. All that has changed in recent decades. Our bohemian attitude towards our profession has worked to hurry its decline. It is now one of those work-at-home-and-earn-big-bucks professions that draws anyone in need of supplementary income.

It has become this way because we have let it become so.

I wondered if anyone was going to challenge the $1/page person, but no one did. There was no challenge of the price or of skills or of services. The idea that at this price level superior services can be provided is rapidly becoming the norm. That a good editor can often only edit five or six pages an hour — and in many instances even fewer pages an hour — does not seem to be a concern to either clients or to the editors advertising inexpensive services.

It is increasingly difficult to compete for business in the editorial marketplace. There are still pockets of clients who pay reasonable fees, but I expect those pockets to diminish and eventually disappear, and to do so in the not-too-distant future. Those of us with specialty skills are beginning to see the encroachment of downward pricing pressure.

What I find most interesting is that so many people do not even notice poor editing. There is a cadre of people who care about precision communication, but that cadre grows smaller with each passing year. A rigorous language education is now passé. The result is that there are fewer individuals who can recognize good editing from bad/no editing, and even fewer who care, being more concerned with cost.

I have no surefire solution to the problem. My hope is that some day someone in charge will see the light and decide that quality is at least of equal importance to cost control and recognize that it is not possible for an editor to provide a quality job at $1/page. Unfortunately, I do not see that day arriving any time soon.

What solutions do you propose?

Richard Adin, An American Editor

July 3, 2017

From the Archives: Editor, Editor, Everywhere an Editor

(The following essay was originally published on
An American Editor on January 13, 2010.)

A book has many contributors to its success. One contributor is the editor, and in some instances, several editors. Editors are the hidden resource that can help or hurt an author’s work.

There are many levels and types of editing, too many to address. In essence, I think all of the various levels and types of editing are divisible into two broad categories: developmental (sometimes known as substantive or comprehensive)  and copy (or rule based). Each serves a different role in the book production process, but each is important. (Disclosure time: I am an editor of 25 years experience. I am also the owner of Freelance Editorial Services, which provides independent editorial help to publishers and authors.)

A developmental editor’s role is multifaceted, but it is less concerned with grammar and syntax and more concerned with the manuscript’s overall structure. The developmental editor addresses these types of questions (and many more):

  • Is the manuscript coherent, that is, do its various parts fit together as a coherent whole?
  • Who is the author’s audience? Does the manuscript present its information logically for the target audience?
  • Are the author’s ideas presented clearly? Will the audience understand what the author’s point is? Are the author’s thoughts clearly and logically developed or do they meander?
  • Does the author present the ideas concisely, that is, is the author using a shotgun or laser approach?
  • Does the material in chapter 5 connect with what went before?
  • Is the author using jargon or technical terms in such a manner as to befuddle the audience?
  • Is the work complete? For example, are sources cited where and when needed?

The developmental editor helps the author hone the manuscript for the author’s audience. It is not unusual for the editor and author to engage in multiple back-and-forth discussions to clarify text, find missing sources, reorganize chapters and parts, and the like.

Once the author and the developmental editor are satisfied with the manuscript, the copyeditor steps in. The copyeditor’s role, broadly speaking, focuses on the mechanics of the manuscript. That focus includes such things as:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Style
  • Consistency

The copyeditor is the “rules-based” editor. The copyeditor is usually given a set of rules by the author or the publisher to follow when deciding questions of capitalization, numbering, hyphenation, and the like. It is the copyeditor’s job to apply and enforce those rules, and to do so with consistency. In the editorial world, consistency is the law, not the hobgoblin of little minds.

When appropriate, a good copyeditor also questions the text. For example, if the author has referred to a particular character as Sam but now seems to have changed the name to Charlie, the copyeditor will “flag” this change and ask the author about it. Additionally, if the name change is sudden but from further reading appears to be correct, the copyeditor might suggest to the author that a better transition is warranted so readers can follow more easily.

Unlike the developmental editor, the copyeditor’s role is not to help organize and rewrite the manuscript. It is to make the “final” manuscript readable by ensuring that it conforms to the language conventions readers expect. It is to ease the reader’s burden, helping author and reader connect.

The ultimate role of the editor — no matter whether developmental or copy — is to help the author connect with reader. A good editor eases that connection; a poor editor hinders that connection. An editor is another eye, another view for the author. A good editor recognizes pitfalls and helps the author avoid them. A good editor is an artist of language, grammar, and the mechanics that help a manuscript take the journey from ordinary to great. When asked to define my role as editor, I usually reply, “to make sure what you write can be understood by your audience.”

The final arbiter of how the published manuscript will read is the author. Editors give advice that the author can accept or reject. In the end, the manuscript is the author’s; the editor is simply a contributor, but a contributor with special skills and knowledge.

One last note: The above description of what an editor does is not a comprehensive description. There are circles within circles, levels within levels, and many more tasks that editors can and do perform. The above is merely a broad view. If you are an author looking to hire an editor, you should discuss with the editor the parameters of the work to be performed by the editor. There is no set, immutable definition of, for example, developmental editing; for any given manuscript, what role the editor is to play is determined by dialogue between the editor and the author or publisher.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

May 22, 2017

Thinking Fiction: The Novel-Editing Roadmap II

by Carolyn Haley

In Thinking Fiction: The Novel-Editing Roadmap I, introduced my four-stage work routine — preflight, formatting, editing, and cleanup — then began a discussion of the first stage in my editing process: preflight.

Preflight’s purpose is to prepare the manuscript for reading, minimizing the number of elements my eye needs to attend to during editing. For the mechanical tasks involved, I use the following software tools:

Editoriums FileCleaner

I use FileCleaner,  which is included in Editor’s Toolkit Plus 2014, for general cleanup of extra spaces and returns, curly versus straight quotation marks and apostrophes, and the like. Once I’ve selected which elements I want the tool to address, it takes seconds to do so and I can enter the file confident that I don’t have to watch for those things.

EditToolsDelete Unused Styles

I use the Delete Unused Styles macro to remove style clutter that comes with the file. In publisher manuscripts, somebody has already addressed styling, but indie-author manuscripts are usually messy and need some housekeeping. When the incoming manuscript is really messy, I address it during the next stage, formatting.

EditTools’ Change Style Language

I use the Change Style Language macro to ensure that Word’s styles in the incoming file are set for American English, so the correct dictionary is utilized by Word’s spelling checker. (This is particularly handy with one of my regular nonfiction jobs. The files I receive for that job are provided by multiple authors and often have different language settings. Most of my fiction work comes already set in American English, but there are just enough random exceptions to make this speedy preflight step worthwhile.)

EditTools’ Never Spell Word

I use Never Spell Word (NSW) to catch typos I’m prone to overlooking, such as form/from, let’s/lets, its/it’s, hang onto/hang on to, vice/vise, woman/women, lead/led, your/you’re, quiet/quite, and many others. I add words to the list every time I recognize a repeat mistake or one I haven’t made yet but easily could.

NSW highlights every occurrence of the designated words, which forces me to look at them and choose. I can either jump from highlight to highlight on a dedicated pass through the document, or pause during the edit to accept or fix each one as it appears. I’ve tried both approaches but discovered that I have a tendency to ignore the highlighted words when absorbed in story flow. Now I dedicate a pass to examining these highlights, usually scrolling rather than jumping so the context flows by. In this way I also pick up the gist of plot and characters, gaining a passive preread that helps me spot storycraft issues to pay extra attention to during editing, such as pacing, tense changes, or multiple viewpoints, while remaining ignorant of the details so I can discover them as a reader.

EditTools’ F&R Master

F&R Master lets me find and replace up to 10 terms and characters in one background run, instead of stopping to examine each and make a decision. With F&R Master I’m looking for irregularities I can safely change globally, and my list includes both words and punctuation.

For example, American indie authors intermittently use British spellings; I, however, always adhere to American spelling according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., unless directed otherwise before the job starts. Certain British spellings crop up so often among diverse indie novels that I’ve created an F&R Master dataset for them and run it on all manuscripts. This dataset comprises words ending in -wards (e.g., towards, backwards), which I replace with their s-free American spellings (toward, backward), and the color grey, which I change to gray. The changes get called out on my style sheet.

Other British spellings appear so randomly that I’ve not yet assembled a list for them to enter into a macro. They tend to be either very obvious in the text and I deal with them when I encounter them, or they get caught later by PerfectIt or Word’s spelling checker.

At present I’m building a list of terms that might be British, and/or American archaic, and/or American alternate spellings that keep popping up in fantasy novels — e.g., leapt, dreamt, burnt — along with words I have to look up repeatedly to confirm which is contemporary American spelling, such as knelt vs. kneeled, shined vs. shone, lit vs. lighted, façade vs. facade, décor vs. decor, and their ilk. Most likely I will put these under their own tab(s) in NSW after I’ve finished gathering and organizing them so they will be flagged in the document.

The punctuation changes I do globally using F&R Master are inserting the terminal comma before too, anyway, though, either, and as well (at least one of these occurs in every manuscript), and adjusting ellipses and dash styles (which vary among manuscripts and often within a manuscript). When the author does not have a preference, or I know the manuscript will be submitted to traditional print publishers, I use ellipses with spaces before, after, and between the points, and em dashes without spaces on either end. In cases where I know the author will be self-publishing an e-book, or the author specifies a preference, I use Word’s glyph for ellipses, and en or em dashes with spaces. I’ve set up and saved the F&R Master options not only to switch from one dash or ellipses style to the other in different combinations, but also to find occurrences in dialogue where the space after an ellipses point or dash needs to be dropped before a closing quotation mark, as occurs when a character’s speech trails off or gets interrupted.

Some find/replace combinations, such as possessives for words ending in s, remain best done manually, because there are enough exceptions to make it risky to fix them globally. I always do a quick search for s’ and ‘s to make sure Travis’ dog is Travis’s dog, the 1960’s are the 1960s, and so forth; also that the author hasn’t pluralized dogs by adding an apostrophe (dog’s). During both preflight and cleanup I also search for inverted apostrophes — open single quotes — in constructions like truncated dates (the ‘60s) and dialect (I hit ‘im ‘ere).

Paul Beverley’s ProperNounAlyse

I originally used ProperNounAlyse (PNA) to lay the foundation for a style sheet, but getting the results I wanted ended up requiring so much manual labor that I’ve reduced PNA’s role in my process to a single worth-its-weight-in-gold step.

PNA builds a list of everything it recognizes as a proper noun (e.g., Chicago, Henrietta), including name pairs (e.g., John Smith). The idea of it thrilled me, because my style sheet includes every person and place name in a manuscript, and saving time in gathering those would reduce style sheet labor by half.

Unfortunately, the macro takes “proper noun” too literally, forming a list of names and any capitalized word at the beginning of a sentence. That means if you want, for example, Achilles, Adams, and Adirondacks, you have to dig through entries like About, Absolutely, Actually, and And to find them. You also get first and last names individually along with the full name (e.g., John, Smith, John Smith). Any proper noun of more than two words is likewise captured in components but doesn’t produce the needed set, such as New York City (New, York, City, New York, and York City), which reduces the macro’s utility. The list it creates also includes extraneous words, colors, and characters (see discussion and image below).

If I were macro-savvy, I could probably customize the tool to eliminate the extras, or even write my own script. But I have the same trouble understanding macros as I have understanding algebra, which is why I buy editing software tool packages designed by pros, or use free macros that other people have figured out. In the case of PNA, I don’t know how to constrain it from giving so much I don’t need; but if I let it do its thing, then manually delete the extras and organize the rest, I end up with a comprehensive list of character and place names, plus some terms that may be unique to the manuscript (e.g., Wankel [engine], Luger [pistol]), miscellaneous terms that usually need to be changed and thus included on the style sheet (e.g., OK to okay, Alright to All right), and some that might be capitalized in one context but lowercase in another (e.g., Captain, Mother, Earth).

This is great — but it takes longer to build the list and then take it apart again to place each item in the right category on my style sheet than to build my style sheet the old way, item by item as I come across each in the manuscript. For the sake of time, I reverted to the old way, and now use PNA solely to find misspelled versions of a proper noun. I still generate the list, but instead of manipulating it for the style sheet, I just delete the highlighting so I can read what’s underneath, and scan for near duplicates. Then I fix any obvious errors before editing, and query the author where needed.

The macro proved its power when I had a novel featuring a character named Philippa, whose name appeared in the story spelled different ways. I found them all hard to read, because of the multiple i’s and l’s together. The PNA-generated list helped me isolate the three wrong spellings, but this is what I had to sort through to find them (double-click on image to enlarge it):

Sample results produced by ProperNounAlyse

Since one of the most embarrassing blunders a fiction editor can make is to misspell an author’s or character’s name, I’m glad to have a tool that helps avoid making such a blunder. Even the long and convoluted means of preventing the blunder, as described above for style sheet building, is worth the effort to ensure I never make that mistake.

It’s been suggested that I approach proper noun correctness from the opposite direction, trading ProperNounAlyse for Never Spell Word. In NSW I can enter the correct form of Philippa and have it highlighted in the manuscript, leaving any alternate versions obvious because they would be unhighlighted and thus easy to identify and correct. Or, enter every variant I can think of and have them all flagged for review. This is a good idea that doesn’t work for me, for reasons that may not seem sensible to others.

But, unlike others, I happen to be a super-duper high-speed typist who’s been word processing since before Word 1.0 was a gleam in Microsoft’s eye. It’s faster and easier for me to type multiple find/replaces for the wrong spellings I see on a list (especially since PNA tells me how many of each there are) than to open EditTools and NSW, set up a dataset I’ll probably never use again, figure out what color to highlight what, and then look through the manuscript for whatever I decided to flag, assuming I can remember what I decided by the time I’m done. In the case of Philippa, I can opt to just find “phil,” which will snag them all — worth considering, since PNA won’t catch one that starts with a lowercase p.

The point is, I have to type the same words whether I enter them in a dataset or a find/replace window, with the same risk of mistyping. My eyes and hands work better with conventional find/replace, so that’s the route I take.

It’s also been suggested that I perform the preflight tasks in a different, more strategic order, to maximize their efficacy. I need to contemplate that idea more, having never considered it. I established my routine from a checklist I compiled years ago from scribbled notes that amounted to “remember to do these things before starting.” As my routine stands, no step depends on any other; they are just things I want done before beginning the edit. I’ve been experimenting with different ways to cover them and am sure I’ll eventually find the ideal one. Right now, my steps accomplish what I desire: getting the manuscript workably clean so I can read without that nagging sensation of things lurking in the shadows behind me.

Taking care of as many consistency elements as possible before editing leaves any aberrations obvious enough to spot during the read. I like to keep some challenge to my eye so it doesn’t get jaded, just as I like to keep my fingers limber so I remain a super typist. I’ve arranged my preflight tasks so that postediting cleanup problems can be identified and decided upon per occurrence; I never do a background function if I’m done going through the manuscript. A background function invites nightmares like what happened to me once in a secretarial job. A careless moment with global find/replace led to “best” becoming “bestiality” in an environmental science report!

In those days, I was lowest person on the totem pole but on salary, in an environment where mistakes were forgiven unless they cost the company huge amounts of money. Now I’m a self-employed professional editor for whom any error has a price. Astute readers will note that some of my tool choices serve the peculiarities of my mind as well as accomplish specific editorial purposes. I must accommodate both in order to deliver an excellent job that clients are happy to pay for — every time.

This rationale applies during Stage 2: Formatting, which is discussed in Thinking Fiction: The Novel-Editing Roadmap III.

Carolyn Haley, an award-winning novelist, lives and breathes novels. Although specializing in fiction, she edits across the publishing spectrum — fiction and nonfiction, corporate and indie — and is the author of two novels and a nonfiction book. She has been editing professionally since 1977, and has had her own editorial services company, DocuMania, since 2005. She can be reached at dcma@vermontel.com or through her websites, DocuMania and New Ways to See the World. Carolyn also blogs at Adventures in Zone 3 and reviews at New York Journal of Books.

May 8, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap XII

In the previous 11 essays in The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap series, I discussed how I approach a manuscript for editing. If you have read the series, you will have noted the common denominator of the macros I use in my approach to editing: they increase efficiency and accuracy, and thus increase my profitability, which is the subject of this final essay in the series.

We live and work in an increasingly competitive editorial world. Editors who began their careers in one specialty are expanding into other fields. Nonfiction editors are willing to take on fiction and vice versa. There are multiple reasons for that expansion, not least of which is that there are more people calling themselves editors and who are willing to work for a low price. The problem experienced professional editors face is that clients become used to paying a low rate for editorial work and expect all editors, regardless of expertise or experience, to work for that same low rate that unprofessional, inexperienced editors are willing to work.

Some editors are in a position to turn away work that is priced lower than they want to accept, but most editors are not. Faced with work that pays less than desired, editors need to figure out how to edit more quickly — that is, to be more efficient, more accurate, and more profitable. There are only so many options available. There are, for example, limits to the amount of time that can be spent editing each day without sacrificing accuracy. Besides, increasing the number of hours we work each day or the number of days we work in a week does not increase efficiency, accuracy, or profitability — it simply means that more work gets done because more time is devoted to working. What we really want is to get more work done in less work time.

Macros like those in EditTools do enhance efficiency, accuracy, and profitability because they make repeating tasks that take time to perform and accomplish the task in less time and with greater accuracy. If the editor charges by the project or the page, that saved time and greater accuracy leads to increased profitability.

Editors evaluate editorial aids by a variety of standards but the one “failing” that many editors have in their evaluation process is that they refuse to buy an aid that has many tools only one of which the editor thinks she will use. Consider, for example, Jack Lyon’s Editor’s Toolkit Plus 2014. This collection of macros includes macros that many editors do not use, such as QuarkConverter. I have had editors tell me that they haven’t bought Toolkit Plus because there are so many macros in the collection for which they have no need. When asked whether there are macros included that they think they would use regularly, most editors say yes and point especially to FileCleaner. Yet these same editors do not consider regular use of FileCleaner as sufficient to justify buying Toolkit Plus. (For what it’s worth, my favorite macros in the Toolkit Plus collection are ListFixer and NoteStripper; I almost never use any of the other macros, but I use these two frequently.)

To me, this is faulty thinking: If I think I would use FileCleaner regularly, and if using it would make me more efficient, accurate, and profitable, then I need to buy and use Toolkit Plus. It doesn’t matter how many of the included macros I will never use; all that matters is that there is one macro I will use repeatedly and that that macro will increase my efficiency, accuracy, and profitability.

The key for successful editing in a competitive climate is that editors take steps to be more profitable. In making a buying decision regarding a collection of macros, there are two items to consider: (1) that at least one macro in the collection has “super” value for the editor because it solves a specific problem that would require a lot of time and effort to resolve without the macro, and (2) that the editor can expect to face this type of problem more than once in the editor’s career. For example, for me, ListFixer and NoteStripper are invaluable; I cannot imagine not having these two macros available. I often get manuscripts in which the author has used Word’s autonumbering for a list. When I move the manuscript into the client’s template, the numbering often disappears, which means I now need to compare the original manuscript to the templated version to see what paragraphs should be numbered. That takes time. If I use ListFixer, I can convert the autonumbered lists to fixed-number lists in seconds. The cost of Toolkit Plus is quickly recovered and I have a tool that increases efficiency, accuracy, and profitability — even if I never use any other macro in Toolkit Plus.

The same kind of reasoning applies to EditTools. Although I use most of the macros in EditTools regularly, the most valuable macros in the EditTools collection for my editing are these: Toggle (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap VIII), the complementary pair Insert Query (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap X) and Comment Editor (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap XI and The Business of Editing: Managing Comments with Comment Editor), and Enhanced Search, Count, and Replace (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IX). These four macros address the core of editing and each is designed to increase efficiency, accuracy, and profitability. Having spoken with other EditTools users, I know that other editors find other macros in the collection to be more valuable in their practice.

The point is that in today’s competitive editorial world, every second counts and editors need to figure out what repetitive tasks they perform while editing that can be made more efficient, accurate, and profitable by using a tool that is available in the marketplace. As I have noted in other essays, editors need to reuse the wheel, not reinvent it each time they face a problem.

With globalization and increased competition, editors need to do what is necessary to increase efficiency, accuracy, and profitability. Editors need to overcome the reluctance to invest in a macro collection that can make their editing more profitable because the collection only has one tool the editors think can help them. As several editors have expressed to me, they bought a collection of macros for a specific macro but once they started experimenting with the macros in the collection, they discovered additional macros that helped increase their efficiency, accuracy, and profitability.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

(Disclosures: (1) I am the creator of EditTools and have a financial interest in wordsnSync’s EditTools. (2) I have no connection with and no financial interest in The Editorium’s Editor’s Toolkit Plus 2014 except as a purchaser and user of the product.)

May 3, 2017

On the Basics: Being Businesslike

by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

The other day, I met a colleague for coffee who’s a freelance writer, proofreader, and voice-over professional who has been doing well at finding and being recommended for projects, but confessed to being terrible at the business side of dealing with clients.

Many of us struggle with the business of editing (and writing, proofreading, indexing, desktop publishing; whatever editorial work anyone here might do). That struggle is one reason for Rich Adin’s book by that very title (The Business of Editing: Effective and Efficient Ways to Think, Work, and Prosper), and for this blog and the columns by its various contributors.

Some of the things we talked about inspired this column.

Setting policies and limits

Getting paid can be the hardest part of freelancing, no matter what service or skill you provide. My colleague did the smart thing with a recent project: She asked for an advance on a five-book project for a local arts institution. The plan was that she would be paid a certain amount before starting, receive a payment as she finished each book, and then receive a final payment when the last book was done.

The good news: She got the first payment. The bad news: She didn’t get it right away. Because she knew the project was on a tight deadline for publication, she felt obliged to start work based on the promise that the advance would arrive soon. Even though the first payment did show up soon after she got started and the subsequent payments did come in reasonably on schedule, she realized in hindsight that she ran a real risk of not receiving the advance and there was a constant sense of foreboding over each payment.

Version control

Another project was a great example of scope creep: Every time she turned around, the client added more to the project. Because she did not have language protecting against the ever-expanding project, she was expected to absorb the new requests without additional payment — and felt obligated to do so. She spent a lot more time on the project than she had planned and wound up only being paid what amounted to minimum wage.

Contract concerns

Many of us have had the good luck to work with clients without needing contracts, or ones who adhere to contracts to our benefit. The most frustrating part of another project for this colleague was that the client ignored almost all of the elements in the contract. Yes, they signed it, but then proceeded to violate almost every clause. She eventually asked why they had agreed to the conditions of the contract when they weren’t complying with it.

The client’s response? “We wanted you for this, and no one else.” That is, they were willing to agree to anything as long as she agreed to do the work. She was flattered — and floored.

Because she’s a self-confessed perfectionist with an “if I start something, I finish it” work ethic, she did not want to walk away despite the frustrations. She knew that she was being played, even as she basked in the sense of being wanted and supposedly the only person who could do the project. She couldn’t figure out how to stand her ground, nor could she walk away.

Reality checks

Being committed to providing excellent service can backfire. Whether it’s from a sense of perfectionism and a commitment-based work ethic, or a fear of negative consequences (not getting paid, having the client badmouth you to colleagues), remaining committed to a project when the client is behaving badly is not good business. It’s bad for the project, bad for your mental (and physical) health, and bad for your business. As hard as it is to stand up for yourself, it’s something we all have to learn to do.

Being told “We want you and only you” or “We’ll agree to anything to get you on board” feels great. Sometimes that’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship with a client who does value you and treats you with respect, but sometimes it’s bait for a situation that turns into a nightmare. The flattery can blind us to a headache-inducing client or project.

One way to handle a situation like this is to do a reality check. Some of us may really be so unusually skilled that we’re the only one — or the best one — for a given project, but most of us aren’t all that unique. We want to feel that we are, but we aren’t; except for rare circumstances, we can be replaced. Another editor might do things differently, but differently does not necessarily mean worse.

Feeling irreplaceable can interfere with all kinds of aspects of freelancing, and sometimes even with working in-house. It can blind you to the reality that a client is treating you badly and making you crazy, and that it would be better for your business and yourself to either reset the boundaries or walk away.

Getting help

One strategy that my beleaguered colleague and I discussed implementing has two aspects: (a) keeping a contract template at hand that includes language regarding both a fee advance or deposit and protection against scope creep, so you don’t have to reinvent the contract with every new client, and (b) using your website to state such a policy.

Possible language could be:

“An advance/deposit representing 50% or the first X hours of the project is required with a new project. Depending on the length and scope of the project, interim payments may be required. The finished project will be provided once full payment is in hand.”

And:

“Any requests for work beyond the scope of this agreement/contract will be charged on an hourly basis in addition to the original fee, and will not be provided or performed without such additional payment.”

Not all clients will go along with such a policy, but it could be a lifesaver, especially with an individual author or a graduate student. While most such clients can be trusted to pay as agreed, some either never intend to pay for editorial services or do not budget sufficiently to pay the tab. When they see the final amount in your invoice, they panic, go into sticker shock — and disappear. This can especially be a concern with students, because when they hand in that paper and get that degree, they’re gone, and you might not be able to reach them to chase down your payment.

If you require an advance and establish interim payments for a lengthy project, you protect yourself against not getting paid (or at least against not getting paid in full), and you also help the client. Most people find it easier to pay a couple hundred dollars at a time over a few weeks to months than a couple thousand all at once when the project is done.

Establishing your policy

I hadn’t thought of this until that coffee date, but establishing your business policy for payments and scope creep and posting it at your website is worth considering. Doing so could head off problem clients who could become nightmares of uncontrolled project morphing and payment hassles, no matter how appealing the project might seem on the surface. However, merely posting it at your website is not enough to make the terms part of the work agreement.

It is important that specific policies — regardless of what they address — be included in written contracts and, because many of us do not work under formal contracts, in your e-mail exchanges with the client. At a minimum, your correspondence should include a statement such as:

“Additional terms governing our work relationship are available at ________ and are made an explicit part of our agreement by incorporation by reference.”

(Caution: Do not make supplementary terms available only on social media like Facebook. Not everyone participates. Be sure that wherever they are posted, they are universally accessible without a client having to “join” some third party.)

Finally, having colleagues to lean on and consult can be a lifesaver in establishing good business practices. Even just meeting over coffee to bewail the trials and tribulations of a problem client or project can provide useful insights from someone who has been there and done that.

For more insights

A number of other essays at An American Editor relate to this one and are worth reading for additional insights on the business of editing, including (for additional essays, be sure to search the An American Editor archives):

 

Rich Adin’s book (with Jack Lyon and myself), The Business of Editing: Effective and Efficient Ways to Think, Work, and Prosper, provides additional practical insights on this important topic.

The key is to remember that being the world’s best editor is not enough for a profitable career; you must be a good businessperson as well!

How have you handled payment, scope creep, and other business concerns? How have you found supportive colleagues, either online or in real life?

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher, and speaker whose motto is “I can write about anything!”® She is also the owner of Communication Central, which hosts an annual conference for colleagues, and a regular contributor to An American Editor.

May 1, 2017

The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap XI

In The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap X, I discussed how I use Insert Query to insert a query or comment into the manuscript. Sometimes an inserted query needs to be modified or deleted or just reviewed. With Microsoft’s system, you need to find that inserted comment and go to it. Most of the time I do not want to leave my current editing location, but Microsoft doesn’t let me stay. Consequently, I use EditTools’ Comment Editor to deal with already-inserted comments.

Comment Editor, shown below (you can make an image in this essay larger by clicking on the image), lets me either move to the comment and then return to where I was in the manuscript (#1 and #2 in image; if I check the boxes in #1, I will automatically be taken to and returned from a selected comment every time I select one, whereas #2 lets me make the leap only when I click the buttons; I prefer to use method #2) or deal with the comment without moving from my current location. In addition, it gives me the ability to find the comment I want to modify (or delete) without having to go through each comment (#3). This is particularly useful in a chapter with a lot of comments (in the example shown in the image, the chapter has 54 comments).

The Comment Editor dialog

Comment Editor shows all of the comments I have inserted in the manuscript using either Insert Query, which was discussed in The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap X, or Microsoft’s method. In other words, Comment Editor does not require using Insert Query. Comment Editor also displays comments that were inserted by either the authors or other editors before I was given the manuscript. It is not necessary for a comment to be inserted using Insert Query for it to appear in Comment Editor; it just has to be a properly inserted comment.

Comment Editor lets me use the scrollbar (#4 in image below) to scroll through the comments until I find the one I want. When I find the comment I want to review, edit, or delete, I select it (#5). The complete text of a selected comment appears in the text box (#6).

Selecting a query for editing

With the selected comment text in the text box, I can edit the comment, as shown here:

Editing the selected query

The highlighted text in the above image identifies the change I made. (The highlighting is just to show the modification I made; you cannot highlight the comment text. Although Comment Editor makes editing of comments easier, it is still limited by what actions Microsoft will allow.) Clicking Update (#7) modifies the comment in the document. If I want to delete the comment, I click Delete (#8). I generally do not keep Comment Editor open as I work as I do not often have to edit or delete a comment. But when I do keep it open, I click the Refresh button (#9 in the above image) to refresh the list of comments displayed (#10). Refreshing will show the comments that remain in the manuscript and their renumbering. In other words, had I deleted rather than modified the selected comment, then the comment immediately following it would have become FES25. Refreshing would show that change without requiring closing and reopening Comment Editor.

Microsoft imposes limits on the length (i.e., number of characters including spaces) a comment can be (#11 in the above image). I admit that it is rare that I would write a comment that comes close to that limit, but there have been a couple of times in my editing career when I have come close to that limit. Sometimes a lengthy explanation is needed. Remember that we are talking about characters with spaces, not words. To give you an idea of the difference, the preceding paragraph (“The highlighted text…and reopening Comment Editor.”) is 160 words but 943 characters. The maximum size a comment can be is 2000 characters; Comment Editor keeps me posted on the length of a comment (#11).

A good example of the utility of Comment Editor is shown in the next image. While editing the chapter from which these examples are drawn, I came across the initialism ITP, which can substitute for several diseases. Based on context, I replaced ITP with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP); however, the author could have meant idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Consequently, I inserted the comment shown.

An example

Note that it is the third comment in the chapter. Suppose the author defined ITP much later in the chapter as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. That means I erred in my expansion of ITP earlier. Of course, there are several ways to locate the earlier expansion of ITP, including using Bookmarks (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IV for how bookmarks can be used), but what I really need to know is whether I misdefined ITP and did I query it. I can check Comment Editor and when I find comment numbered FES3, I can move to it, correct the expansion, run the Enhanced Search, Count, and Replace macro (see The Business of Editing: The AAE Copyediting Roadmap IX for a discussion of this macro), return to where I was in the manuscript when I discovered the error, and either delete or modify the comment.

Although not necessary, I view Insert Query and Comment Editor as complementary — a united pair of macros; that is, I insert all comments using Insert Query and I edit all comments using Comment Editor. Comment Editor is an easy way to navigate and modify comments. Combined with Insert Query, it minimizes the amount of time needed to locate and deal with comments. The quicker and more efficiently I can deal with comments, the more profit I make.

Do you have a more efficient method for editing comments and queries?

Richard Adin, 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 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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