Author Archives: Information Team

Ten bookish books of 2022

2022 was a good year for books about, well, books: their history, what constitutes them – from their different sections to their individual paragraphs, sentences and words – and the places they can live. In this article we look at ten books, published or reissued this year, that people who are interested in books – professionally or for fun – will love. Some of them have already featured in the CIEP book reviews slot in The Edit, our newsletter for members, and on our website, and some are in the pipeline for review. We’ve listed them in order of release.

1. Comma Sense: Your guide to grammar victory by Ellen Feld (Mango, 18 February 2022), 288 pages, £16.95 (paperback)

‘Food and grammar have a lot in common!’ according to this book’s author. Based on US grammar, Comma Sense contains useful advice, brief but clear lessons, and fun quizzes – some cooking-based – for all writers and editors. Our reviewer said: ‘This encouraging book would refresh the grammar skills of a variety of time-strapped word wranglers, from creative writers, to businesspeople, to editors.’

Read the CIEP review. Buy this book.

2. How Words Get Good: The story of making a book by Rebecca Lee (Profile, 17 March 2022), 384 pages, £14.99 (hardcover)

This book, in fact, is about the making of many books. The author is an editorial manager at Penguin Random House, so has overseen all the stages of book production, working with the people who are essential in each of them, from authors to indexers. There are plenty of entertaining behind-the-scenes stories, and you’ll come away wiser about exactly what goes into the creation of a book. Those who work in the industry are likely to feel acknowledged, their part in the process no longer a mystery.

Buy this book.

3. Portable Magic: A history of books and their readers by Emma Smith (Allen Lane, 28 April 2022), 352 pages, £20.00 (hardcover)

Emma Smith’s work, ‘a thing to cherish’, according to The Guardian, examines books as objects: scrolls, mass-marketed paperbacks, hiding places, decoration and even fuel for the fire. Smith tells the stories of the different types of books that have emerged at different points in history. People who cultivate giant piles of ‘to be read’ books rather than instantly transporting their chosen text to an e-reader will appreciate this appreciation of the physical, sniffable, page-turning hard copy.

Buy this book.

4. Rebel with a Clause: Tales and tips from a roving grammarian by Ellen Jovin (Chambers, 11 August 2022), 400 pages, £16.99 (hardcover)

To those who have followed her on Twitter, it feels like Ellen Jovin has been running her Grammar Table, where anyone can come and ask a question about language usage, for ever. In fact, it’s only four years. It’s been a packed schedule since that first appearance outside her Manhattan apartment, as Jovin has taken her table across the USA. This book tells some of the stories of the questions brought to the Grammar Table, and examines the grammar behind the answers. There are diagrams and ‘quizlets’ to support Jovin’s explanations. A must for any grammar lover.

Buy this book.

5. Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A–Z of literary persuasion by Louise Willder (Oneworld, 1 September 2022), 352 pages, £14.99 (hardcover)

The author of this book has written 5,000 blurbs, so she knows what she’s talking about. In Blurb Your Enthusiasm she gives ‘the dazzling, staggering, astonishing, unputdownable story of the book blurb’, and asks why publishers always describe books using those sorts of terms. Quirky, fun and illuminating, this is a treat for anyone who is interested in books or the art of copywriting.

Read the CIEP review. Buy this book.

6. A History of Cookbooks: From kitchen to page over seven centuries by Henry Notaker (University of California Press, 6 September 2022), 400 pages, £22.36 (paperback)

This broad and detailed history of the Western cookbook was first published in 2017 but has now been released in paperback. This is a fascinating read for all lovers of cooking and books, covering the evolution of recipe formats from bare notes to the detailed structure we see today as well as what we might call the ingredients of the books themselves – their writing, designing and printing.

Buy this book.

7. The Library: A fragile history by Arthur der Weduwen and Andrew Pettegree (Profile, 29 September 2022), 528 pages, £10.99 (paperback)

This history of libraries is entwined with the history of publishing and the development of society, so this book gives insights into all three. It has taken some centuries for libraries to hit their stride, in terms of access and stock, and reading about this might prompt a fresh appreciation of your local library branch. According to its CIEP reviewer, ‘this book is both informative and easy to read, and goes to all sorts of unexpected places. Come to think of it, that is much like a decent library, isn’t it?’

Read the CIEP review. Buy this book.

8. Reading the World: How I read a book from every country by Ann Morgan (Vintage, 29 September 2022), 416 pages, £9.99 (paperback)

Inspired by all the countries arriving at the London 2012 Olympics, Ann Morgan decided she would read a book from every independent nation. That’s 196 plus one – you’ll have to read the book to discover the story behind the extra one. Morgan’s literary journey is full of unexpected difficulties and wonderful finds, and this book is bound to inspire you to broaden your own reading horizons. Reading the World was originally published in 2015, with the paperback version released in 2022, so there are now years’ worth of stories about the project itself. You can find these on Ann Morgan’s website.

Buy this book.

9. Index, A History of the: A bookish adventure by Dennis Duncan (Penguin, 2 October 2022), 352 pages, £10.99 (paperback)

This is a ‘mesmerising’, ‘fascinating’ and ‘often humorous’ book, according to the delighted CIEP reviewer of Index, A History of the, who says: ‘This book should be on the reading list of every one of the (few) library schools that are left, and in the break room of every publishing house too. In fact, it should be in the home or office of anyone who has ever used an index.’ And the treasures don’t end with the body text. The index for the book – ‘excellent … beautiful as it is useful’ – was created by CIEP Advanced Professional Member Paula Clarke Bain, who in 2020 wrote a CIEP blog article on her typical week.

Read the CIEP review. Buy this book.

10. Why Is This a Question? Everything about the origins and oddities of language you never thought to ask by Paul Anthony Jones (Elliot & Thompson, 13 October 2022), 320 pages, £14.99 (hardcover)

Finally, dive into the nuts and bolts of letters, words and writing systems, grammar and language, and how we communicate and understand each other’s communication, with this entertaining book. Guaranteed to ask questions you’d never thought to articulate, Why Is This a Question? provides gems on every page. Quick, fun facts throughout for friends and family, or for enthralling your own word-loving brain.

Buy this book.


By the CIEP information team. Compiled with the help of Nik Prowse, CIEP book reviews coordinator. Read all our book reviews at: ciep.uk/resources/book-reviews/. With special thanks to our amazing web team, who post reviews with swiftness, good humour and unfailing attention to detail.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: header image by Taylor on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Powers, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

A week in the life of a broad-spectrum editor and trainer

Gale Winskill is an editor with a varied workload: she edits fiction and non-fiction for publishers and indie authors, as well as providing training and tutoring for authors and editors. In this post she explains why she embraces this variety, and describes a (more or less) typical working week.

Keeping outside the box

I’ve been a freelance editor twice in my career: first, in Hong Kong back in the 1990s, when I wrote and edited school and university textbooks; and second, since 2008 in the UK, when my interests rather diversified.

In between, I worked in-house for ten years, primarily as a children’s editor, but also editing general adult non-fiction. Now, although my specialism is undoubtedly fiction (adult, YA and children’s) – which is what some of you possibly know me for – you might be surprised to know that I still dabble regularly in non-fiction and also do various bits of training.

I understand why some editors might find working exclusively on non-fiction to be more reassuring than the vagaries of fiction. Conversely, others prefer the flexibility of fiction to the rigours of reference systems or weighty topics. But for me, an assortment of fiction and non-fiction titles is infinitely preferable. I function better with a variety of things to work on, to ensure I don’t become complacent or bored.

Moreover, although known as a fiction editor, my refusal to be put in a subject-specific box also means that skills I learned in-house some time ago are still relevant today. I can apply my knowledge of references, bibliographies, permissions, captioning, illustrations, and so on, to non-fiction titles, or to certain types of memoir. And although my main area of work these days is general adult fiction, I still love working on children’s or YA novels, as well as picture books, which rely heavily on my previous experience as a children’s editor.

Then there’s the training. Alongside tutoring on the CIEP’s Introduction to Fiction Editing (IFE) course and writing/presenting the occasional course for other clients, twice a year I teach on the HarperCollins Author Academy. This course is specifically for authors from under-represented backgrounds, with the aim of helping them to negotiate the publishing industry.

Consequently, there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ week for me, as it really depends on my workload, client list or the time of year. That said, some things are set in stone. When the weather allows, I play tennis four mornings a week before work, in order to get some exercise and fresh air and vent any frustrations on a tennis ball rather than someone’s text. Then I’m at my desk and ready to go.

An atypical, typical editing week

So, let me introduce you to a fairly recent, but not-untypical week. It started with the copyedit of a substantial historical novel, written by an author whose previous work had just won a prestigious national writing award. But I didn’t know this when I accepted the work and confess to never having heard of the author before then! It was the first time I had worked for the publisher in question and the brief was short and to the point: copyedit the text; check the historical details and language idiosyncrasies; liaise directly with the author; send it back when it’s clean.

In my experience, it’s unusual to have direct contact with an author, particularly when the publisher has never worked with me before and the author is undeniably successful. So, to be handed the author’s personal email and told to return the text when the novel was clean was decidedly daunting.

At this point in the commission, at the start of the week, the main editing had been done, and the author and I were debating my queries and comments. These included the use (or not) of certain expressions at a specific moment in time, aided helpfully by the Historical Thesaurus, as well as the use of the ampersand (or not) in some historically extant company names – thank you, Mr Google!

The edited text went back and forth from Monday to Wednesday. The author capitulated on some queries; held their ground on others. Emails were exchanged at strange hours of the day and night, full of hilarious, sweary exchanges about everything and nothing, some of it even related to the work at hand. And then the novel was returned to the commissioning editor. Job done.

Laptop, coffee, notebook

During the same days, when waiting for responses to outstanding queries and comments on the above, I started work on a non-fiction book for a different publishing house. The original editor was on maternity leave, so my brief spanned both project management and editing. I was to wrest the work into a solid publishing proposition and guide the inexperienced authors along the way.

The text had been written in several disconnected incarnations that had eventually been cobbled together to form a vaguely complete text. But it still lacked an introduction and a conclusion to explain the authors’ aims and deductions. To complicate things further, a few of the original draft chapters had been looked at by another editor, so the text was littered with their comments, which also needed to be taken into account.

Before editing started, various behind-the-scenes discussions had taken place between me and the publisher to clarify what the imprint expected and wanted, the authors’ limited understanding of the publishing process and how it worked, and the specific issues that needed to be addressed in the text itself. These included:

  • Language and context considerations incurred by one of the authors being British and the other American.
  • Sensitivity issues related to the subject matter.
  • Cited text (of which there was a lot) requiring permissions not only from people who had contributed to the authors’ own podcast, but also from various publishers. The authors hadn’t yet addressed this and cited text comprised a considerable chunk of the narrative.
  • The lack of a recognisable referencing system for the incomplete, or non-existent, text citations.
  • And more worryingly, there was no visible, coherent narrative structure to present the book’s concerns to readers in a clear and accessible manner.

I have worked for this publisher for many years and generally, the texts they send me are in reasonable shape. But not this time!

The editing was very slow, as the authors’ meaning was often obfuscated and needed to be teased out. Over the next few days, a series of emails to my in-house contact, based on unexpected findings within the text, then led to a major rethink and completely different approach to the edit. My self-imposed deadline to return the text to the authors looked increasingly unachievable.

On Tuesday evening I escaped briefly to the monthly meeting of the Edinburgh Writers’ Forum (EWF), where I met up with another CIEP editor to enjoy an entertaining talk by Canongate’s Francis Bickmore about his publishing experiences. The EWF are a friendly lot, who kindly tolerate interloping editors, and abandoning work for a few hours of social interaction allowed my brain to power down and recharge.

Work continued throughout the rest of the week on the non-fiction text, interrupted only to field a few enquiries from private individuals, rather than publishing houses. On receiving sample texts, I duly drafted four quotes, two of which were accepted. One of my IFE tutees got in touch to ask for an extension, which I granted after consulting with the CIEP office.

Tutoring

And then it was Thursday and my final tutoring obligation for the fourth cohort of the HarperCollins Author Academy. The course is all online and covers fiction, non-fiction and children’s writing. I teach the fiction stream.

Weeks 1–4 encompass webinars on writing craft, which I present from an editorial perspective, based on the common issues I am always addressing in clients’ novels. There is also a session on the publishing industry in general. I love the class interaction with my students, but my favourite part is definitely the author panels in Weeks 5 and 6. Here, I get to meet and chat informally to some of the UK’s most successful fiction authors, as well as some newer, up-and-coming authors, who encapsulate a wide range of fiction genres. I facilitate a question-and-answer session in which no topic is off-limits, and let the students choose the direction of the conversation. Today – Week 6 – included one panel with two thriller writers and another with two fantasy authors, so there were lots of different considerations up for discussion.

I am always reassured that, despite some of these authors having sold 20–30 million copies of their books in multiple languages, they still have the same writing concerns and insecurities as the students. Without exception, they are all very generous with their time and advice to those starting out. It also helps that, without prompting on my part, they often reiterate the things I have spent the previous four weeks telling the students, which definitely bolsters my credibility!

As some of the Academy’s previous students have since gone on to win various literary prizes or to obtain publishing deals, my affiliation with the course is one of the most rewarding things I do professionally.

The end is nigh

And so to Friday. The non-fiction book is progressing, but the chances of getting it done before I take a week off look slim, especially as my weekend is full of family commitments. The publisher knows this and we will see where we are next Tuesday before I head to the airport on Wednesday.

The above might seem like a fairly frantic week. Admittedly, depending on my deadlines, I don’t always work on more than one text at a time, and my teaching commitments are spaced out across the year. But at the same time, it still isn’t that unusual to find me swapping between fiction and non-fiction projects, finishing one while starting another, and teaching in between.

Some might find my seeming ‘lack of focus’ perplexing and the above week exhausting, but the variety keeps my mind sharp as I switch between the requirements of different genres. It’s not for everyone, but the mixture of work also enables me to retain skills learned long ago, which might otherwise fall by the wayside if I focused purely on fiction.

Finally, such a broad-spectrum workload means that I don’t get fed up or bored with what I do, so overall, work is a pleasure, not a chore. And, for the most part, I can hit that early morning tennis ball without imagining it’s one of my authors or their text.

Update

Incredibly, after a major epiphany, a resultant increase in editing speed and a couple of very late nights, the non-fiction book was delivered on time before I went on holiday. It is currently with the authors, but will return to me sometime in the next few weeks. The next round of non-fiction editing will then continue into the start of the New Year … when I will also work on a fiction critique, teach again, attend a publishing event in London and copyedit another novel for a major publisher.

About Gale Winskill

Gale Winskill has been an editor since 1993, and has a wide range of experience across fiction and non-fiction. She is a judge for the Page Turner Award, and counts various prize-winning authors among her clients. She also provides training to both authors and editors on various elements of fiction writing and editing, and tutors for the CIEP and the HarperCollins Author Academy. Her clients hail from all over the world and encompass traditional publishing houses, private individuals and publishing training organisations. Whatever its genre, Gale enjoys spotting a manuscript’s potential and considers helping an author to develop and find their voice one of the best parts of her job. She is an Advanced Professional member of the CIEP.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: Tennis balls by cottonbro studio, laptop and coffee by Content Pixie, both from Pixabay.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP

A Finer Point: Make it count

Not everyone gets on with numbers, but they’re part of most documents. Cathy Tingle gives us eight(ish) points on number editing.

Numbers have the reputation of being solid. Words, people sometimes say, can be slippery and subjective in their meaning, but at least you know where you are with numbers. For me, at least, this idea originated at school, from the idea of maths being either right or wrong, and there being no comparable certainty in the arts or humanities.

But as you grow up you realise that there are few absolutes, and things become less certain even for mathematicians as their knowledge of their subject grows.

As an editor, I’ve found words, not numbers, by far the easier part of editing. Much of this is down to a lack of aptitude with numbers. Despite the Chicago Manual of Style’s proud claim that their rules on the elision of number ranges (17th edition, 9.61) are ‘efficient and unambiguous’, I find them utterly baffling, unable to see a pattern or a logic to them. I’m sure it’s there; it’s just too much for my brain.

But I can argue as long as I want that I’m only here for the words and punctuation. It’s a rare text that doesn’t contain at least some numbers. Here are a few principles that I cling to in order to deal with them. Should I number these points? Are they instructions to follow in a certain order, or a ranking of any sort? Would the numbers help you, the reader? No? OK, then, let’s stick with unnumbered points. (There’s your first principle.)

Make sure all sequences are complete and correct.

It’s such a basic point that you might not automatically think to check this, but if you see any consecutive numbers (or letters, come to that), check carefully that they are all there, in order. I came across a numbered list the other week with a missing number four. After doing a little air punch to celebrate finding it, I queried the author about whether we needed to renumber the points or whether point four, in fact, still needed to be inserted. Either might be the case – don’t just renumber and forget it, folks.

If a number is mentioned, cross-check it.

A number in text is often a part of:

  • a citation, in which case you cross-check its date or page number against a full reference
  • a cross-reference to a numbered illustration, page, section, chapter or part, in which case you check that what the author is claiming matches what’s there
  • a declaration of what’s about to be delivered, in which case you check that if the author announces they are about to make four points, that promise is fulfilled.

Understand the role of style.

Ah, consistency. It’s a wonderful thing. With numbers, however, style points tend to assemble like the stars in the sky on a clear night. You start with ‘zero to ten, 11 and over’ and ‘maximum elision of number ranges’, and then before you know it you’re noticing exceptions, like never starting a sentence with a figure, spelling out hundreds or thousands, and never eliding a teen number. These exceptions might seem so obvious that they don’t need to be mentioned, but I would advise trying to articulate them somewhere on a style sheet, or citing a style guide that covers them. You can’t guarantee the next person in the process will know what you know.

If you can, tot it up or fact check it. If you can’t, ask others to do it.

Do the numbers in a table look about right? Can you whip out your calculator to check or paste the figures into Excel and let it do the sums? If it’s possible, do a bit of basic maths. If you can’t, declare it. Tell the author and your project manager what you’ve checked and what you haven’t, so they can pick it up if they need to. If your brief includes a request to check all numbers and you really think this is beyond you, you should declare it at that point.

Similarly, if you can google the veracity of a widely available figure, do so. If you can’t, mention that you haven’t.

Compare (or contrast) the right things, and don’t mix measurements.

One in eight people with a dog owns a Labrador, with 25% owning a poodle cross and almost a third some type of spaniel. In total, 34% of the British public own a dog. In contrast, 47 people out of every 314 feel that there should be dog-free areas in parks.

Argh, what a mess of figures, ratios, percentages and proportions. Choose the most meaningful measure and stick to it. Make sure, too, that the comparison or contrast of figures doesn’t mislead. The people referred to in the last sentence could still be dog owners: no contrast at all.

Consider creating a table. Or two. (Sorry.)

There’s some great advice in the sensible and reassuring Presenting Numbers, Tables, and Charts by Sally Bigwood and Melissa Spore. One thing they suggest is to present comparable numbers in a table rather than in text: ‘Numbers in columns are easy to add, subtract, and compare’ (p16).

It’s a good idea to order tables with the largest numbers at the top because people find it easier to perform the quick sums required to understand them: ‘By listing numbers from largest to smallest, readers are able to subtract the figures in their heads’ (p11). But, equally, ‘In some cases alphabetical, chronological, or another natural order will be right. Consider how readers will use the information’ (p13).

Most importantly, always keep it simple: ‘If your readers need both the numbers and their proportions, give them two simple tables rather than one complex one’ (p16).

Don’t use ‘approximately’ with exact figures (like 5,989,348).

In fact, consider rounding down or up (to six million, in this case). People find round figures so much easier to process and remember. Consider the context and the purpose of the document, and if it’s appropriate, suggest it.

Treat numbers like the rest of the text.

In the end, dealing with numbers is about applying the usual principles of editing: clarity, consistency, correctness and completeness, and whatever other ‘c’s you usually use. But if we think carefully about how the reader will read and receive the figures, sometimes we need to prioritise clarity. Martin Cutts, in his almost unbelievably excellent Oxford Guide to Plain English, remarks that, online, figures for numbers are sometimes best, because ‘eye-tracking data shows that “23” catches more attention than “twenty-three”’ (p245).

No matter how much we shy away from them, making numbers clearer is well worth doing. Iva Cheung has published an article about power dynamics and plain language in healthcare, making the point that in a vulnerable situation people feel powerless in the face of the sort of jargon that says ‘I know more than you do’. Well, an opaque set of numbers can do the same. Let’s do everything in our power to make them easy to understand.

Resources

Bigwood, S. and Spore, M. (2003). Presenting Numbers, Tables, and Charts. OUP.

Cheung, I. Power dynamics and plain language in healthcare. Wordrake blog. wordrake.com/blog/power-dynamics-and-plain-language-in-healthcare.

Chicago Manual of Style. 17th edition. (2017). University of Chicago Press.

Cutts, M. (2020). Oxford Guide to Plain English. 5th edition. OUP.

Hughes, G. (2021). Editing and proofreading numbers. CIEP fact sheet. ciep.uk/resources/factsheets/#EPN.

New Hart’s Rules. 2nd edition. (2014). OUP. Chapters 11 and 14.

About Cathy Tingle

Cathy Tingle, an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP, is a copyeditor, proofreader, tutor and CIEP information team member.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: number blocks Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash. Dogs by Barnabas Davoti on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

CIEP forums: Director update

The forums are one of the CIEP’s most valued networking resources, and they were as busy as ever in 2022. Community director John Ingamells gives his perspective on the CIEP forums this year, and gives us a glimpse of what’s to come in 2023. John covers:

  • our forums as a virtual meeting place
  • changes to our moderation team
  • setting professional boundaries
  • nurturing a supportive atmosphere
  • our plans for 2023.

You will only be able to access links to the posts if you’re a forum user and logged in. Find out how to register.

This is the time of year when many of us look back and assess what has happened in the 12 months just gone: the good, the bad, our successes and slip-ups. For the CIEP forums, it has been a busy year, with the usual abundance of professional advice covering every imaginable aspect of proofreading and editing, alongside our almost daily dose of exquisite speeling misstakes and general malapropisms in the evergreen Typo of the Day.

A virtual meeting place

The forums have gone from strength to strength as one of the CIEP’s most valued offerings to members. They offer a place for members to meet virtually, ask questions, share ideas, and offer helpful tips and useful pointers on anything from the placement of a comma to how to avoid backache from sitting at a screen all day. In many ways, the forums serve as a virtual water cooler for so many of us who work in isolation without the human contact taken for granted in a traditional office space. Many members cite this as an important aspect of their appeal.

They thus act as an important addition or continuation to those opportunities that members have to meet each other in person. Alongside the annual conference, many local groups have traditionally been able to meet in person as well. Of course, that all came to a halt during the pandemic and we saw that, alongside Zoom meetings, the forums provided an important way to stay in touch. Now that COVID restrictions have eased, some groups have arranged in-person meetings again.

Changes to our moderation team

As most members will be aware, the forums are overseen by a team of moderators and, with a couple of long-standing members of the team looking to stand down after many years of service, the Council decided early in 2022 to instigate a formal recruitment process to find new members for the team.

This reflected the Council’s broader wish to professionalise the organisation as well as a recognition of the fact that forum moderation fell squarely within our legal obligations to ensure that our activities and events are free from any form of direct or indirect discrimination. Part of this change was to begin remunerating the moderators. Four new members were duly recruited to the moderation team and joined over the summer.

Setting professional boundaries

This last year has proved to be a busy one for the moderators. The vast majority of traffic on the forums is informative and helpful and, more importantly, is carried out in a friendly and collegiate atmosphere. But we are only human, and it is perhaps to be expected that on rare occasions, when opinions differ, discussions can become more direct.

Now, there is nothing wrong with some robust debate with members expressing opposing views on a topic. But here it is important that we remember what the forums are, namely a closed professional space. Or, to turn that around, it is important to remember what the forums are not – they are not a public social media setting with an anything-goes attitude to what people can post and how they behave. We all need to bear in mind that we are in a professional setting, dealing with colleagues and counterparts.

This is particularly important when discussions are begun around sensitive issues such as race, cultural appropriation, gender and many others. We have no wish to stop discussion of such issues – there are many legitimate questions of an editorial nature that crop up about, for example, how to advise clients on appropriate language or usage when handling a sensitive topic. Language changes, sometimes very quickly, and clients will often welcome up-to-date advice from a professional editor.

Nurturing a supportive atmosphere

As long as the forum threads handle sensitive subjects with care and with a sympathetic regard for all members, discussions can continue. But we know from experience that members have sometimes felt harmed by the way one or two threads have taken things beyond purely editorial contexts.

There are plenty of places out on the internet where issues can be debated full throttle. But in our closed professional space, where we have a responsibility to our diverse membership, we ask members to stay within certain boundaries. If you would like to see more on this topic, it is worth rereading the notice that the chair, Hugh Jackson, posted in February outlining the CIEP’s position.

In this context, it is also worth reminding ourselves that the CIEP has a core aim to listen to and learn from perspectives that may have struggled in the past to be heard in organisations like ours. What we are really trying to do is nurture an atmosphere in which everyone has the confidence to participate actively in the forums.

Into 2023

How we handle the more challenging threads on the forums has itself been the subject of some debate. We have already announced that we are in the process of drawing up new guidelines for the moderation process which we will be sharing with the wider membership in the weeks ahead and welcoming your comments.

Of course, the big challenge for the year ahead will be the move to the new online platform. Like everything on our website, the new forums will look very different, but we will be working hard to ensure that they will continue to be the useful, informative and friendly place that so many members have come to know and love.


Register to join the CIEP forums.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: header image by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

Talking tech: Getting the best out of remote meeting tools

In this Talking tech column, Andy Coulson discusses what you can do to improve the quality of your video calls.

During the pandemic meeting up has meant using remote meeting tools like Zoom, Skype, Teams and FaceTime. We’ve all become used to using them to some extent, whether we like or loathe them. Here I’m going to look at some of the things we can all do to improve the quality of what others see and hear on a video call.

There are three things we have control over in a video call – our WiFi signal, what our camera sees and what our microphone hears. I’ll look in detail at each of these below; they are all simple, low (or no) cost and often don’t involve the technology at all.

WiFi

Using remote meeting tools for video calls or meetings relies on a good internet connection because video needs lots of bandwidth, and it needs be reliable. To start with I am assuming that the internet connection to your house or workplace is reliable. If it is not, talk to your supplier as they should be able to test it and possibly diagnose problems remotely. I’ve just had my supplier resolve a problem caused by a faulty extension socket in the house and they’ve been brilliant. I’ve also learned a bit more about my connection, which means I can hopefully get issues resolved more quickly in future when I speak to them.

If the connection is all OK then you need to ensure you have the best possible connection to the internet. Many of you will connect via a router (the box your supplier provides). One of the simplest ways of ensuring you have a good signal is to use a cabled connection. Most routers have some network connections on the rear and they often come with a cable. However, this does mean you need to be close to the router unless you want to buy long cables.

Next, if you are connecting via WiFi or using a mobile phone you need to make sure you have as strong a signal as possible. To do this you will need to experiment and move to different parts of the house. Different materials block these signals to different degrees, so where your phone or laptop is makes a huge difference. I live in a bit of a mobile phone dead zone, so there are only a few spots in the house where I get a good mobile signal, and two places half a metre apart can have enormously different signals. Your phone indicates the strength of WiFi and phone signals and your laptop will show the WiFi strength, so use these to find a good place to work with strong signals.

Person at desktop computer on a video call

Getting the best from the camera

Cameras on mobile phones and laptops are generally pretty good. The software behind them gets ever more sophisticated, but you can make the job easier by thinking about what will be in the camera’s view and how it will be lit.

One of the easiest things to do is to have as clean a background as you can. I often hang a sheet behind me or use a projector screen, as this gives a plain background. A plain background helps the camera to focus on you, because you are easier to pick out. This in turn helps with lighting, because if the camera can pick out your face easily it will try and make that look as good as it can by adjusting the brightness.

If you use a camera app (eg Camera in Windows) you can play around with backgrounds and see what works best. For the space I use I think a pale background works best, but you may find that something dark works better.

The other thing you can control is lighting, and this can make a huge difference. If you are near a window, the time of day and time of year also make a difference. For example, my office is in the attic and I sit with a Velux window above and behind my head. In the summer, when the sun is on that side of the house, I have to black that out; it is so bright that the camera struggles to make out my face. In the winter I sometimes use the sunshade blind and it doesn’t cause a problem, as the light is at a lower level. So, the first thing to look at is whether you have blinds or curtains that can control the natural light. Again, experiment before the call.

What you are after is even lighting of your face that is not so bright that it makes you squint. This means that ideally you want light from both sides of your face. For example, a couple of desk lamps would work, one on either side.

Try to avoid lighting just from above you, as it creates shadows that are not flattering! If you have no other option, it might be worth experimenting with either white paper or foil on your desk to try to reflect some light into those shadows.

I have a photographic reflector that I use (essentially a metre-wide foil circle with a rim that keeps it taut). I tuck this behind my monitor so two-thirds of it sticks out above and leans towards me. On a not-too-bright day I use a combination of my desk lamp and the light from the Velux window to bounce back off that and light my face.

Sound

Your microphone, like your camera, has sophisticated software behind it that helps to isolate your voice from other sounds. Generally, this is the default setting in most software, but you can help it along by making some good choices.

The first thing to think about is: how noisy is the room you are in? If it is noisy, can you move to a quieter room? (Apologies if you’ve just carefully crafted your lighting set-up!) There may be other things you can do like shutting doors or windows, too. The more noise you can exclude, the less work the software has to do to eliminate the noise and the clearer you will sound.

Once you are happy, open your remote work software and find the microphone settings. There is a microphone level indicator, which is a bar or series of dots that go up and down in response to what the microphone picks up. If you speak in your normal voice while facing the microphone this should bob up and down between about 50% and 90%. If the levels fall much outside this then the program may have a microphone volume or sensitivity control you can adjust. If not (for example in Skype) the system controls are used. In Windows this is in Settings > System > Sound. It is worth checking this before any call.

When you work from home and use video and audio calls, remember that you are not in a studio where everything is well controlled and consistent. The conditions at home (noise and lighting) will change from day to day and hour to hour, so you need to look at look at how things look and sound before a call. As I mentioned above, most of the things I’ve mentioned can be done for little or no cost. Have an experiment – and please share any tips of your own in the comments below or on the CIEP Forums.

About Andy Coulson

Andy Coulson is a reformed engineer and primary teacher, and a Professional Member of the CIEP. He is a copyeditor and proofreader specialising In STEM subjects and odd formats like LaTeX.

 

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: header image by Kampus Production on Pexels, person on video call by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Round-up: CIEP conference 2022

The CIEP’s 2022 hybrid conference, ‘Editing in a diverse world’, took place from 10 to 12 September at Kents Hill Park, Milton Keynes, and online. In this article we’ve gathered attendees’ reviews and reactions before, during and after the event, on social media, in blogs and in our souvenir-style 46-page conference publication. Whether you made it to the conference in person or online, and even if you didn’t attend this time, we hope it gives you a sense of the news, learning, atmosphere and fun of #CIEP2022.

Before: Hashtag excitement

‘Less than two weeks until #CIEP2022! Who’s coming? Starting to feel very, very close indeed.’ On 29 August, CIEP chair Hugh Jackson (@JPS_Editing) informally kicked off conference proceedings with the first use of its Twitter hashtag. Others followed suit, posting before the event about matching fingernail varnish to business cards (@dinnydaethat), and how their knitting was looking (@AjEditorial) in preparation for a meeting of the CIEP’s Haber-dash-ers craft group.

The day before the conference, a fabulous time was wished to fellow editors (by @JillCucchi), and on Day 1 we got commentary on how journeys to Milton Keynes were going, whether that was on three trains (@GhughesEd) or a long, long car journey from Glasgow (@Jane_33South). On Day 2, one of the speakers, Professor Lynne Murphy (@lynneguist), announced she was on her way with: ‘Judging from the tweets, it looks like a very interesting conference so far!’ Conference director Beth Hamer (@BethHamer1) responded with ‘Looking forward to seeing you. We’re having a ball.’

During: ‘Viva hybrid conferences!’

There were two main strands of social media activity during the conference. One was by in-person delegates: LinkedIn commentary on proceedings and live tweeting. @ayesha_chari got a special mention by @The_CIEP social media central for her ‘exceptional live tweeting’, and she flawlessly relayed events until the very end of the conference and Ian McMillan’s plenary session, when she wrote: ‘Laughing too hard to live tweet or do anything else. (If this were in ink on paper, there’d be smudges from laughing tears.)’

The other strand was from our online delegates. As in-person delegates wiped away tears of laughter in Milton Keynes, virtual delegate @akbea tweeted: ‘Sitting in my car outside a school in Wakefield listening to the wonderful @IMcMillan delivering the final talk of #ciep2022. Viva hybrid conferences!’ This parallel in-person/online experience enriched the conference for all the delegates, as questions and comments in sessions arrived through Zoom from remote attendees, and those at home got a taste of the live action through the video link-up. Some even took part remotely in the famous CIEP conference quiz on the Saturday night.

Social media gave us some insights into where and how people were consuming the conference. One delegate wrote on LinkedIn: ‘I’m thrilled I got to attend online so I could monitor my son’s Covid symptoms in-between sessions. Phew!’ @SaraKitaoji, in Australia, posted a picture of the tea she was drinking in order to stay awake: ‘The key to late night Zoom meetings: Japanese green tea. A cute cat cup helps, too. Enjoying more 3am–5am #networking sessions at #ciep2022.’

During these three days, because delegates were joining from everywhere in the globe, from the USA to India, from Germany to Thailand, it felt like a small world. As Hugh Jackson gave his closing address, @TrivediAalap, based in Canada, posted: ‘@The_CIEP transforms the definition of home. It is my home. Wherever, whenever.’ And just afterwards, @FreshLookEdit wrote: ‘So grateful the Spatial Chat was left open after the conference officially closed so the online peeps could linger a little longer. What an amazing weekend of fun, friendship, and learning. Thank you to all the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and delegates!’

After: Catching up and rounding up

After conferences, many attendees need time to review their time away and catch up on family time, sleep or relaxation. This year’s post-conference social media was heavy on tea, candles and TV. Some delegates were battling an earworm placed by Ian McMillan with his song about conferences, ‘Here come the lanyard people’.

The talk was also of catching up on sessions missed. As @JennyLaura1 put it during the conference: ‘I’m torn between @MayaBerger’s and @NickTEdits’s session this afternoon. Still, it’s a nice dilemma to have, and I can watch the other one later.’ A couple of weeks after the conference, @HelenSaltedit reported: ‘Just watched my first #CIEP2022 video (catching up with sessions I missed during @the_ciep conference).’

The videoed sessions kept giving, as did the learning points in them. On 18 October @TheClarityEditr wrote: ‘Inspired by Hester Higton’s #CIEP2022 session, I’ve FINALLY made some templates, updated SOPs and added space in my mega-spreadsheet to more systematically calculate project quotes.’

Two delegates wrote round-up blogs soon after the conference that transported us back to the whole experience. Even though her team came fourth in the quiz (down from first last year), Sue Littleford, who attended online, concluded her blog with an uplifting image: ‘The CIEP is the rising tide that lifts all editors’ boats, and at every conference I’m reminded of how proud I am to belong to it.’ Annie Deakins described her sixth CIEP/SfEP conference as ‘great company with fellow editorial colleagues, learning in the form of continuous professional development (CPD), and laughing … so much laughing!’ Sue and Annie also gave interesting reviews of some of the sessions, so be sure to catch their blogs.

The most lasting legacy from #CIEP2022? Even all the happy memories and invaluable lessons had a rival for the prize of what would stay with delegates longest. On 3 October, @ayesha_chari wrote on Twitter: ‘Omg! It’s back in my head! @The_CIEP conference goers, HELP replace the earworm please.’ What, this earworm: ‘Here come the lanyard people …’? Oops! Sorry.


For the complete conference round-up, with reviews of every session, download our 46-page PDF.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Resources round-up: Microsoft Word

Welcome to this round-up of resources compiled by the CIEP. This time, our subject is Microsoft Word.

We have divided our picks into:

  • macros and other editing tools
  • Word tips
  • courses, webinars and books.

Macros and other editing tools

If you work in Word, and you talk to other editors, before long you’re likely to find yourself hearing about macros and other automated editing tools. PerfectIt is used by many freelance editors, and its website contains lots of useful FAQs and tips, as well as video tutorials, user guides and training. If you have further questions, Facebook has a group for PerfectIt users.

Recently PerfectIt launched a Chicago Manual of Style style sheet, which you can access if you’re a CMOS subscriber. Hilary Cadman has reviewed this feature for the CIEP.

Paul Beverley’s free macros, including the popular FRedit, are available through the ‘Macros for Editors’ menu on his website, and he has posted a number of useful explanatory videos on YouTube. Paul has also written a free book, Macros for Editors. Crystal Shelley has reviewed Paul Beverley’s macros.

The Editorium, run by wildcard expert Jack Lyon, hosts the new Editor’s Toolkit Plus 2023, a Word add-in that contains dozens of time-saving tools. The website also hosts EditTools, for editors working on complex documents. Jack Lyon’s Wildcard Cookbook for Microsoft Word, loved by many editors, is available via links on the Editorium site.

A simple tool that’s useful in creating author queries is TextExpander, which creates ‘snippets’ of text that you frequently use, allowing you to add them to a document with keyboard shortcuts.

Word tips

For Word users, there are plenty of tips available online. Allen Wyatt provides well-regarded Word tips. Or look on the Word MVP Site for a range of articles about every aspect of Word, written by volunteers. Or visit Hilary Cadman’s blog for useful tips.

Microsoft itself offers some videos on features like Find and Replace and using Word styles in its Word help & learning section. Or visit Microsoft’s tech community for tips, for example on using Word’s modern comments.

Courses, webinars and books

The CIEP’s Word for Practical Editing helps students to increase their editing efficiency by using Word’s tools and features. Editors Canada has a range of webinars on editing software, on subjects from text expanders and macros to increasing efficiency in Microsoft Word.

Individual editors offer courses on Word, too. Hilary Cadman offers courses on PerfectIt and Endnote, Word coaching, and most recently a course on Word styles and templates. Adrienne Montgomerie offers training on Word Essentials, and a book that can be used for self-study.

Finally, Geoff Hart’s book Effective Onscreen Editing, currently in its fourth edition, is widely recommended by advanced Word users.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: Laptop and notebook by Maya Maceka on Unsplash; cat on keyboard by Александар Цветановић on Pexels.

Posted by Julia Sandford-Cooke, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP

Top tips for non-Word working

Editors may be most familiar with Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat but clients are increasingly publishing content on other platforms, such as Google Docs and content management systems (CMS). Hannah Sapunor-Davis demystifies some of these newer ways of working.

First, a bit of context: I don’t work on books, and I don’t work with typical publishers. I primarily work with designers, non-profits, business owners and digital publishing agencies. I find myself more often in Adobe, Google Docs, various content management systems (CMS) and product information management (PIM) systems than in Word.

So I wanted to share some insight into how working on non-Word platforms might change up your regular editing routines. I won’t go into detail about how the functionality and tools differ. There are lots of tutorials online for that, and it really depends on what platform you’re using, what updates have happened, and, maybe most importantly, how your client uses the platform.

But most of all, I’m here to tell you that stepping outside of the Word bubble is nothing to fear.

Real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration is great when you need to put two heads together on a project. This can be especially helpful when you need to test functionality with a client, or when you are giving feedback in a live call. For some non-publishers, documenting changes and versions is not as important as the finished product. I found the real-time feature helpful when walking a client through edits to a webpage. We were able to come up with some new text and make changes together.

On the flip side, it can get messy quickly. A clear communication system is necessary to mitigate confusion about who should be doing what and when. In a CMS, this might be in the form of changing a status field from ‘Editing in progress’ to ‘Editing complete’, for example. For other platforms, like Google Docs, this might be communicated through an email or Slack message to the client to signal I have finished my review.

Working in the cloud

The obvious upside of working in the cloud is that you can work from most locations and most devices, as long as you have a stable WiFi connection. In the past, this has meant that I did not have to schlep my computer along with me on a trip because I knew I had access to a computer and WiFi at my destination. Even better, working in the cloud means I avoid having to store a lot of big files locally on my computer.

The other side of that coin is that if WiFi is not working properly, it can cause a major problem in your schedule. Likewise, I’ve had several instances where the platform I was supposed to work on suddenly had unscheduled maintenance. The client has always been understanding when system disruptions like this happen, but that doesn’t necessarily help when it causes a domino effect on the timelines of other clients’ projects. And I have also had it written into project agreements that I cannot work on the material on unsecured networks, which is something to be mindful of (and also good practice in general).

Different checklists

Most editors are used to creating checklists and using them in various projects. But checklists for non-Word platforms may go beyond the stylistic choices we typically navigate. For example, when editing a CMS:

  • In which order should you check all the parts when it’s not in a typical top-down, left-right order layout?
  • Are there any functionalities that need to be tested, such as clicking to open fields or sliding a navigation bar to the side?
  • Do you need to add any steps, such as clicking ‘Save’ periodically if the platform doesn’t save automatically?

Having this order of operations clarified helps develop a rhythm for catching all the parts in design-heavy material. For example, for one retail client, I have to check marketing copy against internal product information and photos. There are a lot of different fields to review, and I have developed my own visual pathway to reviewing all the crucial spots. The order looks like this, starting with 1:


Communication with clients

Here are a few extra questions that I recommend asking your client before getting started on a project:

  • Do I have all the permissions to view and edit what I need for the job? Sending screenshots or looking at your screen together with the client might help. You might not realise that a field is hidden from your view.
  • Is it possible to test the functionality of the platform without making changes to the system? This could be in the form of a draft, test user account or what is sometimes called a ‘sandbox environment’.
  • How will I know when I should start editing, and how will I let others know that I am done with my review? Deciding on one means of communication is key here.
  • What exactly needs to be reviewed? There may be parts that don’t need to be reviewed, such as certain text fields or formatting.
  • How should you save your work? The platform might save automatically or you might need to save it manually when finished.
  • Do you need to document your changes? The client might not care about seeing your changes. Or maybe you need to export the copy when you’ve finished editing to have a record of your ‘version’.
  • How should you send feedback? There might be a field where you can add comments and queries, or maybe you send them separately in a message.

Ready to branch out?

I didn’t follow any formal training for specific platforms. The training that I took at the CIEP and PTC covered most of what I needed to know for working with common non-Word platforms, such as Adobe and WordPress. For the rest, I learned by doing. (That’s my preferred way to learn anyway.) Each time I began using a new-to-me platform, clients understood that there was a learning curve and that certain editing functions that editors are used to, such as making global changes, might not be possible.

It doesn’t hurt to get familiar with basic HTML (HyperText Markup Language) coding. This has come in handy when I’ve noticed funky formatting, such as a word in bold that shouldn’t be or a missing paragraph break. In such cases, I can go to the HTML view and change that. And that’s one less query for the client to deal with. Of course, you should only do that if you have the permission to do so. Some clients might not want you to touch the formatting in any case. The good news is that basic HTML formatting looks very similar to the editing markup that most people learn in editing courses.

But in my experience, the skills needed for this type of work have less to do with technical know-how and more to do with a few specific soft skills. Beyond your foundational editing training and experience, you will do well if you:

  • adapt to different systems easily
  • learn relatively quickly
  • communicate precisely.

Having worked in a variety of programs and platforms has enabled me to feel confident about approaching businesses, especially those unrelated to the publishing industry. After all, the saying goes: Everyone needs an editor. And I would like to add to that: But not everyone uses Word.

About Hannah Sapunor-Davis

Hannah is a freelance editor in Germany, originally from Northern California. She has degrees in History/Art History and Arts Management and now loves helping individuals and small businesses write clear communication for their passionate audiences. In her free time, she likes to sew, swim, listen to podcasts or tramp through the nearby forest with her dog, Frida.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: computer clocks by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay; bubbles by Willgard Krause from Pixabay.

Posted by Julia Sandford-Cooke, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP

An interview with Paul Beverley: the man behind the macros

Paul Beverley is well known in the editing community as the ‘king of macros’. He has not only devised and developed such indispensable free tools as FRedit, but also provides training via Zoom, on YouTube and in person. Paul talked to the CIEP Information Team about his ‘total and utter obsession’ with macros, and his plans for the future.

How (and why) did you get started with macros?

I joined SfEP (as it was then) 17 years ago after editing and typesetting my own monthly computer magazine for 20 years. The magazine was dying and I was heavily in debt, so I had to find freelance editing work and needed to do that work fast.

For the previous 15 years, I had used a FRedit-like computer program with a Mac, so I got someone to write a version of it in Visual Basic for Word, and from there I set about learning to program my own macros. But I also had to learn to use Word, which I had never used before!

What are your favourite macros? (e.g. the ones you think are most helpful)

Number 1 has to be FRedit. You give it a list of words, phrases or punctuation that you want highlighting and/or changing globally, and FRedit does it in seconds. I simply wouldn’t bother editing without it.

Next it has to be analysis macros such as DocAlyse, ProperNounAlyse and HyphenAlyse, because I love spotting inconsistencies, even before I’ve read a word.

What’s motivated you to be so generous in putting together and sharing all your macros?

Putting together? See question 1 – a selfish desire to earn more quickly.

Sharing? Why not? What have I got to lose by letting others benefit?

Sharing for free? Easy! If I sold them I’d need to employ a team of technical support personnel (there are well over 1,100 macros to support). As it is, people are really grateful when I help them and, if I’m honest, I like it when people say they appreciate me.

Do you have any tips for overcoming a fear of using/reluctance to use macros?

It can all sound rather daunting but if you can get going with just two or three macros, or maybe half a dozen, you’ll save yourself time and that will motivate you to pick up a few more.

That’s the approach in our self-learning offering: ‘Macros from Square One’ (Mac or PC), where you learn how to install a macro into Visual Basic and then you use it, and then you load another one and so on.

Or another low-tech approach is that you can put a special Word file into a folder on your computer, and suddenly, without ever seeing the inside of a computer program, you will have a dozen or more macros ready to use. This is called ‘Macros Free Trial’.

Also, there’s Jennifer Yankopolus’s ‘Macro of the month’, with hints and tips as well as a suggested macro to try each month.

But to really get yourself launched there’s a paid six-session training course run by Jennifer Yankopolus for the EFA: ‘Macros A to Z’. It gets booked up quickly but if you sign up for ‘Macro of the month’ you’ll get the dates of the next course.

What question are you asked most often about macros (and what is the answer)?

Apart from ‘How do I get started?’ (see above), there’s ‘Are macros safe?’ If you are worried about viruses, there’s no need. In Word’s File–Options–Trust Center Settings, keep your setting as ‘Disable all macros without notification’.

If people are worried about messing up a document by using macros, then, yes, this can happen, but only if you misuse a given macro. Any tool needs to be used with care, so follow the instructions and don’t take on something too complicated too soon.

What is the most unusual/interesting request for a macro you’ve had?

Maybe checking, for a PR agency, the length of tweets – 140 characters max (they can be longer now).

Or, in a book about the card game bridge, changing all the special symbols (icons for clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades); the client wanted text: cx, dx, hx, sx.

In another example, someone had to check the totals at the bottoms of columns of figures in a document, and they didn’t fancy typing all the figures into a calculator. One click for each, and the macro checked the addition instantaneously.

Is there any request/need you’ve not been able to make a macro for?

Yes, occasionally, but it’s usually because the request would take too much of my limited available development time for what is perhaps a rather niche application.

The problem is more often the other way around. People want a specific macro, and within the 1,000 macros there is probably one already, but how do you find it? To help, we’ve provided an electronically searchable ‘Macro Menu’.

Have you ever tried to create macros in Google Docs? Would you?

My answers are ‘no’ and ‘no’, in that order. Again, it’s not a matter of pride or principle, just that I’ve got my work cut out trying to support the existing macros and develop new ones that people ask for.

Paul demonstrating his macros at the 2022 CIEP conference

You train people to use your macros. Where in the world has this taken you?

Physically, only to Spain and Canada, but the Spanish editors are so keen on using macros that they have translated some of the macros and some of the documentation for Spain and Central and South America.

When the pandemic hit, I discovered Zoom and so I have been able to train people all over the world. At one stage, I taught people in eight different countries inside five days. And I know of 56 different countries where my macros are being used – and not all for editing in English; there are specific macros on my website for editing in Dutch, German and Spanish, none of which I speak!

And (as a rough estimate) how many people do you think you’ve trained?

I’ve no way of knowing, actually. My YouTube channel has over 1,300 subscribers, if that’s any indication.

You’re now approaching retirement. Will you continue to create and explain macros?

As long as I can, I’ll keep creating macros – it’s a total and utter obsession. But training is not really my forte because I tend to bombard people with all the exciting and time-saving things they could do with macros. Not helpful!

When I’m gone, my macros will still be available, but I became concerned, a few years ago, that all the programming techniques I use to create new macros are locked in my brain. I managed to document many of them in my book’s Appendix 13 – ‘Word Macro Techniques’, and demonstrated some in YouTube videos.

However, in the past few years Word has become even more ‘feature-bloated’ and therefore VBA [Visual Basic for Applications, the programming language used for Word macros], has got slower. I have had to work out tricks to regain the lost speed of some of the more complex macros. These techniques are largely undocumented.

I get a kick from creating new macros but documenting the techniques is a real slog. So if anyone could offer help or inspiration on the documentation front, that would be much appreciated. It would be a shame to lose those tricks when I’m gone. Thanks.

How else will you spend your retirement?

I am now more or less retired from paid editing, but my lovely wife Sue has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so I’m guessing that I’ll have less and less time for macros (and documentation) as the years roll by, and we’re also involved in an Alzheimer’s drugs trial.

Also, please be warned that I’m planning to do another sponsored Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride, but this time for the Alzheimer’s Society. It will have to be a local ride as I don’t like leaving Sue for too long. I can do the required 1,000 miles plus 38,000 feet of climb by cycling 200 times around Taverham, where I live outside Norwich – it’s actually quite hilly here.

I hope you’ll support me – you might say it’s 1,000 miles for 1,000 macros. Thank you, in advance.

Find Paul’s macro resources

 

About Paul Beverley

Starting in 2005, Paul Beverley’s freelance editing + SfEP + macros got him out of a massive financial hole. Now fully pensioned, he is very fortunate to be able to give the macros back to CIEP and the wider editing world. It’s great fun!

 

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credit: Bicycle by Deniz Anttila from Pixabay

Posted by Julia Sandford-Cooke, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP

Being open to editing in Google Docs

Are you considering taking on an editing project in Google Docs? Hetty Marx describes her experience of development editing in Google Docs and explains why, despite her initial doubts, it has opened up welcome opportunities.

Agreeing to edit in Google Docs

The first time I was offered a project that involved editing in Google Docs, my gut reaction was a clear ‘no’. I’d had a very busy few months, with a long and complex project, plus I’d been home-schooling my children through the first Covid lockdown. The idea of having to learn how to edit in a different program (one I’d not heard good things about) seemed too much.

But I was really intrigued by the project and was keen on the idea of working with this new client. I wondered if it would seem manageable once I was under less time pressure. The client agreed a later deadline, and a few weeks later I got started.

And … it really wasn’t that bad. Google Docs feels familiar to someone used to working in Word, so it was possible to get started editing and pick things up as I went along. There were some irritations but overall it wasn’t as dreadful as I’d feared. And the client and project were even better than I’d hoped. I continued working with them and edited around another 25 documents in Google Docs over the following two years. I’m now a third of the way through editing a 20-chapter, 400,000+-word textbook for the same client, again in Google Docs.

I still prefer editing in Word, but being open to editing in Google Docs has given me the opportunity to work with some wonderful authors and edit what have turned out to be some of my favourite projects to work on.

In this blog post, I’ll cover a few of the techniques that have helped me adapt to editing in Google Docs. Note that as I am a development editor, my edits involve a heavy use of comments, plus amending sentences using tracked changes/suggesting mode; copyeditors may face different challenges when editing in Google Docs.

1. Use Word alongside Google Docs

Consider using Word alongside Google Docs during your edit, to make use of the various features and functionality that are not available in Google Docs. I download the file as a Word document and keep it open on my second screen.

I find this invaluable for things like ‘Find’ (there are more extensive searching options), using macros (for analysing or finding things, rather than making changes), viewing changes and comments (I think some of the options in Word provide a clearer view) and checking word counts of a particular section.

2. Agree a workflow with authors

The biggest worry about editing in Google Docs for many editors is that the author can make changes while you are editing. There are solutions within Google Docs for this, like restricting others from editing the file during your edit (using the ‘Sharing’ options) but an upfront discussion about the workflow may be more appropriate.

Agree with the authors which of you will be working on the document at each point and make sure there are clear handovers. With Word, this is clear-cut as you need to send the file to the next person; in Google Docs you could tag someone in the document or email them so they know the file is ready.

Be open to a different workflow. Could the author finish the conclusion or work on a standalone aspect (like exercises) while you start editing the chapter? I’ve found this doesn’t cause any issues and it’s helped to keep to the schedule. But I also agree that other revisions during my edit would make the editing process significantly more complicated and less effective, so clear communication about what will work – and what won’t – is important.

3. Understand who can see your comments and edits and when

Some editors don’t like the feeling of having their editing watched in real time. While that doesn’t worry me, I do miss the chance for a final check-through of my comments before sending them to the author.

There are a few things to remember when commenting in Google Docs:

  • Once you click ‘Comment’, that comment is visible to anyone who has access to the document.
  • If a user has email notifications set up, they will receive the comment and may see it even if you delete it later.
  • If you or your client ‘Resolve’ comments (rather than delete them), they disappear from view but are still available and might be read by anyone who currently has access (or who is later given access) to the document.

In Google Docs, I only post comments that are ready for the authors to see. This means I need to spend a little longer during the edit to make sure my comments are clearly phrased and free of typos (a process I’d usually do at the end of an edit). But I still recommend that the authors wait until I’ve completed my edit before reading the comments, as I will sometimes amend or delete comments based on what I read later in the chapter.

4. Allow for more time

I find editing in Google Docs takes longer than editing in Word. I don’t have all my usual shortcuts, I spend time flipping between the Google Doc and Word document, some of the navigation is more clunky, etc. It doesn’t necessarily add a lot of time, but it certainly adds some (and it may be more for a copyeditor who uses more macros or programs like PerfectIt).

Wrapping up: Why I’m open to editing in Google Docs

I would still choose Word over Google Docs for development editing. But I’m glad I took on that first project. Being open to editing in Google Docs has led to two years of a steady stream of interesting work from a delightful client.

About Hetty Marx

Hetty Marx is a textbook development editor. She has nearly 20 years of publishing experience, including in-house as a commissioning editor at Cambridge University Press and as a development editor at Pearson. She is an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP and author of the forthcoming CIEP guide Editing Textbooks.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

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Photo credits: Lights by Enrique from Pixabay; desk by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash.

Posted by Julia Sandford-Cooke, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP