An American Editor

April 27, 2018

Lyonizing Word: Some Favorite Features from Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018

Jack Lyon

Making new macros with powerful features!

Bright-colored icons for all happy creatures!

Searching for typos with fresh wildcard strings!

These are a few of my favorite things.

                      (Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.)

The new Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018 has a wealth of new features, but I’d like to alert you to a few of my favorites, some of which are not immediately obvious but can be enormously useful.

Title-case all headings

If I had to pick a favorite out of all the new features, it would be this one. The previous version of Editor’s ToolKit Plus made it possible to select a heading, press a key (or click the mouse), and properly title-case the selected text. For example, a heading like this one—

THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE

or this one (Word’s default)—

The Ghost In The Machine

instantly became capitalized like this—

The Ghost in the Machine

with commonly used articles, prepositions, and conjunctions lowercased. That was great as far as it went, but why not make it possible to properly title-case all of a document’s headings without having to select them? That’s what this new feature does, for any text formatted with a heading style (Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on—or your own custom heading styles).

But this feature takes things even a step further, allowing you to automatically title-case headings in the active document, all open documents, or all documents in a folder — your choice. Now, rather than painstakingly capping and lowercasing by hand, you can have this feature do it for you, in seconds rather than hours.

But wait — there’s more, as they say on TV. This feature references a list of words so it knows what to lowercase, and you can edit that list to fit your needs. Obviously you’re going to want such words as and, the, of, and an, but what about beyond? How about through? Add or remove words to meet your own editorial style.

In addition, you can add text that you want to remain in all caps: USA, NASA, AARP, and so on.

Finally, you can even specify mixed case, with words like QuarkXPress and InDesign.

In my opinion, this feature alone is worth the price of admission. It will save you many an hour of editorial drudgery.

AutoMaggie

As you almost certainly know from hard experience, sometimes Microsoft Word documents become corrupted. (The technical term for this is wonky.) The standard fix, known as a “Maggie” (for tech writer/editor Maggie Secara, who has made it widely known to colleagues, although she did not invent the technique), is to select all of a document’s text except for the final paragraph mark (which holds the corruption), copy the text, and paste the text into a new document, which should then be free of wonkiness.

That’s simple enough, but section breaks can also hold corruption, so if your document has several of those, you have to maggie each section separately. Paragraph breaks also can become corrupt, in which case they need to be replaced with shiny new ones. The AutoMaggie feature in Editor’s ToolKit Plus takes care of all this automatically.

MacroVault batch processing

If you’re fond of using macros that you’ve recorded yourself or captured online, you’ll find MacroVault a truly revolutionary feature of the new Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018. It was included with the previous version of the program as a way to easily access the macros you use the most, including automatically set keyboard shortcuts to run those macros. Now it takes your macro use to the next level, allowing you to run any of your macros on the active document, all open documents, or all documents in a folder.

Not only that, but you can specify which parts of a document you want to use — the main text, text boxes, footnotes, endnotes, headers, footers, and comments. This brings enormous power and flexibility to your macro collection.

FileCleaner saved settings

FileCleaner has lots of new (and useful!) cleanup options — so many, in fact, that I’ve had to put each kind of option on its own tab, one for each of the following:

  • Breaks, Returns, Spaces, Tabs
  • Dashes
  • Hyphenation
  • Formatting
  • Text
  • Punctuation
  • Miscellaneous

But I think the slickest new feature in FileCleaner is the ability to save entire sets of options for future use.

Just enter a name for a set of options (for a certain client, a certain kind of manuscript, or whatever). Then click OK to clean up those options. The next time you use FileCleaner, you can activate that set of options again by clicking the drop-down arrow on the right. When you do, all of the options for that saved setting will become selected. You can save up to 20 different sets of options.

Speed!

My final favorite thing isn’t actually a feature. Instead, it’s the speed of nearly all the features in Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018.

I originally wrote many of my programs back in the 1990s, using the clunky, old-fashioned WordBasic language. When Microsoft Word 97 was released, it featured a new language — VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), but it would also convert WordBasic macros into pseudo-VBA so the macros would continue to work in the new software. That pseudo-VBA has been the basis for my original programs ever since.

Now, in Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018, I’ve rewritten most of the code from the ground up in native VBA. It took a long time to do that (nearly 28,000 lines of code!), but the resulting software is fast. NoteStripper, for example, used to strip notes to text by selecting, copying, and pasting each note. It worked, but if a document had lots of notes, it took a long time. Now, NoteStripper strips notes to text without selecting, copying, or pasting anything. Everything is done using the built-in text ranges of the notes and the document itself, and wow, what a difference!

For purposes of comparison, I just used NoteStripper on a document with 100 notes. The old version took 25 seconds — not bad. The new version took 2 seconds — making it more than 10 times faster than the old one. If you’re working on a big book with a short deadline, that kind of speed can make a real difference in your ability to get the job done.

In conclusion

I hope you’ll try the new Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018 (which runs in Word 2016 on Macintosh, and in Word 2010, 2013, and 2016 on PCs), and that it will become one of your favorite things! If there are any features you particularly like, I’d love to hear what they are. If there are any features you would like to work differently, I’d love to hear about that as well.

Finally, if there are any features you think needed to be added, please let me know. I’d like to make Editor’s ToolKit Plus as useful as possible.

By the way, I continue to make improvements to the program almost daily. For that reason, if you’ve already installed Editor’s ToolKit Plus 2018, I strongly recommend that you download and install the most-recent version. You can download it here.

February 7, 2018

Lyonizing Word: Helping Authors Write

Jack Lyon

In my previous post, Lyonizing Word: Workflow for Writing, I suggested some tools that would help authors write without the problems that are almost inevitable when working in Microsoft Word. These include inconsistent and meaningless formatting, document corruption, fouled-up footnotes, incorrect AutoCorrect “corrections,” and so on. Unfortunately, most authors already use Word and aren’t likely to change. How can we, as editors, help them create Word documents that are well-structured and clean, thus reducing our own workload?

Word itself includes a feature that helps make this possible, although I doubt that many editors or authors are even aware of it: Restrict Editing. You’ll find this feature on Word’s Ribbon interface under the Review tab.

What does it do? It prevents authors from using arbitrary, meaningless formatting, applying various fonts in various sizes higgledy-piggledy all over the place as authors are wont to do. The only formatting they can do is with styles — and then only with the styles that you allow. You will like this. And your designer will like this. And your typesetter will like this.

At first, your authors will not like this. But once they understand how it works, they should find great relief in not having to design as well as write. All they have to do — all they can do — is apply a heading style to headings, a block quotation style to block quotations, and so on. They can get on with actually writing, rather than worrying about whether this heading should be bold and that one italic, whether poetry should use Garamond or Palatino. As technical writer Brendan Rowland notes in comment 153 on the blog Charlie’s Diary, “When you’ve worked with locked/protected docs in Word, you’ll never want to work any other way. Life becomes so much easier. No more user-created spaghetti formatting — this becomes a distant memory.”

Restricting Editing

Here’s how to set up a document that restricts editing in Microsoft Word:

  1. In Word, create a new document.
  2. Click the Review tab.
  3. Click the Restrict Editing icon (far right).
  4. Put a check in the box labeled “Limit formatting to a selection of styles.”
  5. Just below that, click Settings.
  6. Put a check in the new box labeled “Limit formatting to a selection of styles.”
  7. Put a check in the box next to each style that you want your authors to be able to use. For recommendations on what those styles might be, see my article “But What Styles?
  8. Under the Formatting heading, make sure the first box is unchecked and the last two are.
  9. Click the OK button.
  10. Now, in the task pane on the right, click the button labeled “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.”
  11. To enforce protection, enter a password, confirm it, and click OK. The password doesn’t need to be long and complex; it just needs to be something your authors won’t guess and that you will remember. In fact, something as simple as your initials will do. After you’ve entered a password, your authors can’t turn off protection, so it really is protection.
  12. Save the document.
  13. Give the document to your authors, instructing them to write their masterpieces in that document and no other.

Creating Character Styles

There is a problem with this system, however, and it’s a serious one. When you restrict formatting to a selection of styles, Word no longer allows you to use directly applied formatting like italic and bold — styles only, so no CTRL + I for you! The only way around this is to use character styles (not paragraph styles) that are set to use italic, bold, or whatever you need. And here, in my opinion, is what you need:

• Italic.

• Superscript.

• Subscript.

• Strikethrough.

What, no bold? Not unless you’re working with an author whose field requires bold — some branches of math or medicine, perhaps. But for most authors, access to bold means they’ll try to use it to format headings when they should be using a heading style, such as Heading 2 or Heading 3.

What, no underline? Again, not unless you’re working with an author whose field requires it. Otherwise, some authors will use underlining when they should be using italic — a holdover from the days of the typewriter.

Now you need to add the character styles to your document. Here’s how:

  1. For the time being, stop enforcing protection on the document. Otherwise, you won’t be able to create a new style. You remember your password, right?
  2. Click the little arrow at the bottom right of Home > Styles to open the Styles task pane on the right.
  3. At the bottom of the task pane, click the little New Style icon on the bottom left.
  4. Give your style a name, such as Italic.
  5. In the box labeled “Style type,” click the dropdown arrow and select Character. This is key to making this work.
  6. Under Formatting, click the Italic button.
  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Repeat the process for any other character styles your authors will need.
  9. Again enforce protection for the document.

A side benefit to using character styles is that they can be imported into InDesign, where they can be set to use whatever formatting is needed — something that isn’t possible with directly applied formatting like italic or bold.

Creating Keyboard Shortcuts

So now the character styles are available, but only from the Styles task pane. Not very convenient; your authors are going to want their CTRL + I back. Here’s how to provide it:

  1. Under the File tab, click Options > Customize Ribbon.
  2. Click the button labeled “Keyboard shortcuts: Customize” on the bottom left.
  3. In the Categories box on the left, scroll to the bottom and select Styles.
  4. In the Styles box on the right, select the style you created earlier (such as Italic).
  5. Put your cursor in the box labeled “Press new shortcut key” and, well, press a new shortcut key. Let’s use CTRL + I for our italic character style.
  6. Click the dropdown arrow in the box labeled “Save changes in:” and select your document. Now your keyboard shortcut will be saved in the document rather than in your Normal template. Don’t skip this step!
  7. Click the Assign button on the lower left.
  8. Click the Close button on the lower right.
  9. Click the OK button.
  10. Save your document.
  11. Give the document to your authors.

Now when your authors select some text and press CTRL + I, the Italic character style will be applied, so they can work without using the mouse to select the Italic style in the Styles task pane. Easy, intuitive, perfect. Rinse and repeat, with the appropriate keyboard shortcuts, for your other character styles.

At this point, you may be wondering why I didn’t just create this document for you. Stay tuned; next time I will, with a few little extras to make your life easier. But if you ever need to do all of this yourself, now you know how.

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

August 25, 2010

Time Goes By and is Lost

A common discussion topic among self-employed editors is “What can I do to increase my income?” As with everything in life, one has to begin by examining one’s current situation in detail. Only by understanding where I am can I determine how and where to go. Freelance editors often neglect the most fundamental aspects of running a successful business, of which time management is the most fundamental fundamental. Learning how you spend your time during the workday can be revelatory.

How much time do you spend each day on various activities? Do you really know how much time you spend working? Surfing the Internet? Answering questions at LinkedIn? On the telephone? Twittering? Perusing and updating Facebook? Actually editing? Few of us really do know and fewer still apply time management techniques to our workday.

Yet time management is fundamental to maintaining or improving our income or gaining more free time for the pleasurable things in life that aren’t work related. There are lots of time-tracking software programs available, ranging in price from free to very expensive. I personally use, and have used for 10+ years, Timeless Time & Expense from MAG Softwrx (TT&E). It’s expensive these days ($79), but I haven’t found a less-expensive program that tracks time as this program does. TT&E has a lot of features that I don’t use, such as billing, but I like the way it keeps track of how I spend my day.

Whatever program you use, it should be easy to start and stop timing activities; it should be capable of tracking multiple activities simultaneously; it should cumulate the time; and it should be very easy to switch between activities. For me, TT&E fits the bill, but I am interested in learning of other programs that work similarly but cost less.

Anyway, to move back to the topic at hand, knowing how you spend your workday is important. You should track your time over a minimum of 2 weeks before drawing any conclusions so that you can see a pattern. If every day but 1 day you spent 3 hours surfing the Internet and on that 1 day you spent only 1 hour, your pattern is to spend 3 hours, not 1 hour. If the amount of time varies each day, figure out the average and use that number in your evaluation.

You also need to track how many new projects or clients — or even inquiries — were generated by the time you spent on various activities. If you average 3 hours a day surfing and socializing on the Internet but got no work or inquiries, perhaps 3 hours a day is too much time to devote to the Internet. Yes, I know that sometimes one doesn’t see results from one’s efforts for months, which is why I wouldn’t suggest stopping surfing altogether. But the fact that I might win the lottery some day doesn’t justify continuing to spend large sums of money on lottery tickets; perhaps a nominal sum, but not a large sum, and the same rationale applies to time spent on activities that are tenuously related to work.

The key is to associate activities during your workday with work and productivity. It doesn’t mean no water-cooler time; it means managing water-cooler time. Managing time means allocating a limited resource to the most productive endeavors; not abandoning those endeavors that we like as distractions, just limiting them. It’s the same concept as that which lies behind the use of macros when editing. I use EditTools — and spent the money and time to develop EditTools — because cold, hard analysis demonstrated the clear financial benefit to me of using these macros in my daily editing work. Similar analysis commanded the purchase and use of Editorium macros and PerfectIt (see the earlier articles on The 3 Stages of Copyediting for a discussion of Editorium, EditTools, and PerfectIt macros). Every second of my workday is precious because I can’t ever retrieve past time and reuse it.

To repeat: The first step for a freelance editor in figuring out how to improve her income is to discover how she spends time during the workday. Once the editor has that information, the editor can begin to figure out what changes need to be made and work on how to make her work time more efficient and productive. Every editor can reach their income goals by applying sound business practices to their business.

April 19, 2010

It’s the Little Things: Software

In the last post on this subject, I discussed two hardware matters that increase efficiency: multiple monitors and XKeys (and forgot to mention my Logitech programmable mouse). Today, I explore (albeit very cursorily) some of the software I use — in conjunction with the XKeys — to increase my efficiency and productivity. All of the software involves using Microsoft Word macros and center on being able to use XKeys for one-button access to them.

The software programs are from a variety of vendors, including myself (wordsnSync) and include the following

Each of the software applications provides its own productivity benefits, but all, except Macro Express, are based on Microsoft VBA. Not included in the list is Microsoft Word’s built-in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming language. It is well worth every editor’s time to learn at least the basics of VBA, particularly how to do wildcard searches.

Macro Express

Macro Express (ME) is simultaneously a simple and a complex macro writing program. For most editors, nothing more than the simple aspects are required. In fact, I rarely use ME for long, complex macros, preferring to use VBA. But, ME does have a singular advantage over all of the other options: it is program agnostic. Consequently, I can write procedures that I can use in multiple programs or for a specific program. Here’s a simple sample: Think about how many times during a manuscript edit you need to delete a space and replace it with a hyphen. How do you currently do it? Press Delete, press hyphen? I press the + key on the number keypad at the right of my keyboard. It is a simple macro that I have assigned to that particular key and that I have made available for use in all my programs via Macro Express. It means that I can keep my hand on my mouse and simply extend my thumb to press the single key, saving perhaps a couple of seconds with each use.

On the other hand, ME lets me take advantage of some of Word’s features in combination. Back when I wrote this procedure in ME, I wasn’t up to speed with VBA, so ME made life easy. The procedure lets me insert a local bookmark where I am currently at and go immediately to another bookmark. When I begin prepping a file for editing, the first thing I do is insert special bookmarks where the references, figures, tables, and any other special features are. The ME routine lets me travel, for example, from the text table callout to the table and when I’m done editing the table, to return to the callout in the text.

ME lets me create custom “keyboards” for clients and/or projects. These custom keyboards contain macros for the client/project that make life easy. They also contain some universal macros, that is, macros that I know I will use in every project. And ME lets me assign the key combination of my choice to each macro.

When used in conjunction with XKeys, all I need to do is press a single button to run a macro.

Editorium Macros

Jack Lyon has written several macro programs designed to help speed certain editorial tasks. I have tried many of his macros and they all are excellent. You really can’t go wrong with any of them if they fit your needs. And when I started using macros to increase productivity, I used more of his programs than I do now. I still use on a regular basis List Fixer and Note Stripper. For the editing that I do, these are the most useful and valuable of The Editorium macros. Colleagues swear by — and rightfully so — his other programs, particularly FileCleaner and MegaReplacer. I suggest that if you haven’t tried The Editorium macros that you do so and find the ones that are most beneficial for you.

Perfect It

Perfect It is a relatively recent addition to my armamentarium of editing tools. Perfect It is a series of auto running macros that looks for common mistakes after the manuscript is edited. For example, the manuscripts I work on often are riddled with acronyms. One of the things I try to do is be sure that after an acronym has been defined, future spellouts are converted to the acronym form. That’s one of the things that Perfect It checks. It also looks for missing punctuation in lists, acronyms that are defined multiple ways, and numerous other of the little things that can get past even the most diligent editor. It is a valuable program and well worth its price.

EditTools

EditTools is my favorite (I am the author and seller of EditTools), probably because the macros were created to meet my specific editing needs. However, they would be a great boon to any editor.

Among the many macros in EditTools, my favorites are Toggle, Journals, and Search Count Replace.

My Toggle database includes more than 1200 entries and Toggle lets me make corrections with a single XKeys button press. For example, I have a medical dataset for Toggle so that when I come across and acronym that hasn’t been spelled out yet, such as CHF, I press a single key and CHF becomes congested heart failure (CHF). And some clients prefer that in-sentence lists be numbered in parens rather than lettered followed by a period [i.e., (1) rather than a.], and Toggle lets me make the change with a single button press. The key is what is in my dataset, and I am the sole master of that — I can add as I wish.

Journals is another major timesaver for me. It isn’t unusual for me to have a chapter with 300+ references. Journals is a macro that searches for journal (or book) names and if they are correct highlights them in green; if they are incorrect, corrects them and highlights them in cyan. Like Toggle, Journals uses a dataset that I create to meet my needs; my current dataset has nearly 5,000 journal names. The highlighting gives me visual confirmation that I do not need to worry about whether a journal name is correct or not.

Search Count Replace (SCR) solves another common editing problem. As I said earlier, many of the manuscripts I work on are riddled with acronyms. SCR lets me determine how many times an acronym is used in the manuscript and if it doesn’t meet the client’s minimum number requirement, I can tell it to replace subsequent instances of the acronym with something else; if the number does meet the client’s requirements, I can tell it to highlight the acronym throughout the document, which tells me later that the acronym has already been spelled out.

EditTools also makes custom dictionaries accessible and usable. Plus there are several other macros included, including one that corrects page ranges in references.

_________

All of these software programs and macros increase my speed, accuracy, and efficiency and better the final product that I deliver to my clients. Most have trial periods; I suggest you try them. With trial periods, you have nothing to lose — and everything to gain — by doing so.

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