Category Archives: Tools

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.

Find out more about:

 

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

Two editors introduce their favourite macros

Back in May 2022, Ben Dare wrote a handy beginner’s guide to macros that explains how to start using them. In this follow-up post, Ben introduces some of the macros he finds the most helpful when editing text. Fiction editor Katherine Kirk also talks about some of her favourite macros, and how she’s improved her efficiency by mapping macros to her gaming mouse.

Photo of water droplets on a leaf as a background image to the blog post title and authors: Two editors introduce their favourite macros by Ben Dare and Katherine Kirk

Ben Dare

When I begin with a Word document, I like to analyse it for style and consistency issues. Handily, there are macros to look for all sorts of things, without altering my document at all: spellings of names (ProperNounAlyse); hyphenation of words (HyphenAlyse); consistency of a whole selection of style choices (DocAlyse). Each gives a report in a separate Word document, helping me to understand where possible issues are and highlighting hard-to-spot errors.

But running each of those (and others) is a bit of a faff. So my first favourite macro is MegAlyse (yes, in my head it sounds like Megatron). This macro allows me to list the macros I’d like to analyse the document with and then runs them in an organised way (as long as I’ve installed them!), and it saves the results.

At this point I’ve got an idea of systematic things that I want to change or check individually, and I want to make those changes quickly and highlight things I know I’ll want to check. To do that, the second macro I use is FRedit. This macro has many abilities (there’s a manual!), but at its most basic it runs a list of global find and replace searches that I list in a separate document. It’s easy to experiment with – you can start with a small list and get to know this macro at your own pace – but it is important to know already what you can do with find and replace, including wildcards (and there’s a recent CIEP blog on that here).

Here’s a screenshot of a basic FRedit list, each line showing a find and replace with a vertical bar | separating them:

Screenshot showing the following five pieces of text each separated by a short vertical line: EM dash and EN dash; Navratilova with and without accents; amongst and among (highlighted yellow); Parliamentarians and ^& (highlighted green); ~[A-Za-z0-9]^13 and ^& (highlighted blue).

So with FRedit, in one go I can:

  1. Change all em dashes to spaced en dashes.
  2. Make a name always have the accents it needs.
  3. Change all ‘amongst’ to ‘among’ (the ¬ means it will do upper or lower case); it will also apply yellow highlighting, which is my note to self: ‘I’ve changed this but check it’ – I noticed some ‘amongst’ were in quotations and will need changing back.
  4. Retain ‘Parliamentarians’ (the ^& means replace with what you found, i.e. no change) but highlight in green, which tells me: ‘Not changed but needs checking for client’ – here the client wants lower case, but there were lots beginning sentences, so I’ve just marked them to check.
  5. Find any paragraph that ends in a letter or number, not punctuation (the ~ tells FRedit it’s a wildcard find to search for that range of characters in square brackets). It also adds blue highlight, which is my note to self: ‘Generic issue to check’.

This mixture of changes and highlighting makes things to do or check helpfully visible, but the highlighting does need to be removed. Cue the macro: HighlightMinus. Have the cursor on the appropriate line, or select some text, and the macro removes the highlighting. (Bonus mention: HighlightPlus is great for adding highlighting, to flag something for the client or that you want to come back to.)

Working through a text, some edits take a few mouse clicks/keyboard strokes to do. There are macros to do these tasks more quickly, saving seconds each time, adding up to many minutes over a project. An example is SwapWords: if the document has ‘it badly fell’ and I want ‘it fell badly’, I place the cursor in the first of the words to be swapped, run the macro, and it swaps the two words. It saves the time of manually moving or retyping text, and prevents those little slips of human error. (Bonus mention: SwapCharacters does the same for adjacent characters, handy for swapping quote marks with full stops and commas.)

I’m always reminded there’s stuff I don’t know. GoogleFetch takes the word by the cursor, or a selected phrase, and switches to a browser and searches Google (other providers are available!). It’s quick, easy and less clicking. (Bonus mention: DictionaryFetch does the same but searches an online dictionary.)

The above macros are written by Paul Beverley and are freely available to all. But many useful macros can’t be downloaded – I record them, or alter a pre-existing one, to suit my particular needs. Recording is great for repetitive, simple jobs. Altering doesn’t have to be scary: find a macro that does nearly what you want, tweak it and see what happens (on a spare doc!). For example, a client wanted me to follow the ‘Guardian and Observer style guide’ – so I changed GoogleFetch to open the appropriate Guardian style page for a word instead. It took a bit of learning, but it saved oodles of time in the end. You can even share your attempts and ask for advice on the CIEP macro forum. (Bonus mention: DictionaryFetchByLanguage came from such a process.)

Photo of a water droplet creating ripples on a lake

Katherine Kirk

Like Ben, I use a combination of analysis macros and look-up macros, like MerriamFetch, which searches the term I’m pointing at in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. But my absolute favourites are the ones that cut down on key combinations that I use all the time. If I can reduce a repetitive set of button pushes to a single click, then it adds up to hours of time saved, and it also reduces repetitive strain on my fingers. Even better, it frees up convenient key combinations for less frequently used macros!

The best thing I did for my efficiency this year was to get a gaming mouse. I use a Logitech G502, and as well as the scroll wheel and left and right-click buttons, it has five extra programmable buttons. I can also push the scroll wheel right or left to trigger more macros. This means I can have seven macros right there without moving my hand to my keyboard. Other editors swear by the Wacom tablet, which gives you much more functionality, but I personally love the satisfying click of the mouse buttons. Also, doing it this way eased the learning curve, which made it much less intimidating. And don’t tell my boss,* but outside of work, I use the mouse for playing games too!

I decided to set the programmable mouse buttons up to improve my workflow. I thought about the routine button pushes I use in every job and settled on the ones that I use most often. These are the macros that have made it onto the mouse:

  • StartSession does a simple search for ‘[]’ in the text, which is a kind of shorthand bookmark I’ve been using since my early days. I find Word’s built-in ‘pick up where you left off’ is a little deficient. I also use this when I need to pause my line-by-line editing to jump around for a global consistency check, so I can find my way back and carry on. I used Word’s macro recording tools to create the Start and End Session macros.
  • VisibleTrackOff4 toggles Track Changes on and off, and it changes the background to yellow when it’s off so I don’t make accidentally untracked changes.
  • GoogleFetch makes fact-checking quicker, since it saves me having to tab over to my browser.
  • MerriamUnabridgedFetch lets me stay on top of hyphenation, capitalisation and spelling much more easily. I mostly work with US texts.
  • Sliding my scroll wheel to the left finds the next instance of something I just searched for in the text. I matched it to the built-in shortcut in Word, Shift+F4, so I didn’t have to create a macro for it.
  • Sliding my scroll wheel to the right scrolls down five lines and moves the cursor back up four, which keeps the text I’m working on comfortably in the middle of the screen. I don’t remember who gave me the macro for that, possibly on the CIEP forums, but they called it TestScroll.
  • Finally, EndSession types my handy little ‘[]’ bookmark and saves the document, ready for the next work sprint.

Here’s how that all looks mapped to the mouse buttons. The labels with an M are macros I’ve assigned.

Diagram of a gaming mouse showing macros mapped to mouse buttons or the scroll wheel Diagram of the side of a gaming mouse showing macros mapped to mouse buttons

Besides the ones mapped to my mouse, the macros I use the most often are the ones that trim down the button pushes needed to make common changes. I work with fiction, so for me, that’s mostly things like changing ‘Yes.She said to ‘Yes, she said. I use Paul Beverley’s CommaInDialogue macro to change that full stop and capital letter into a comma and lowercase letter with a single key combination (CTRL+ALT+,).

As I explore more macros, I want to spend a little more time practising with Paul’s ‘speed editing’ macros. Minimising the time spent on repetitive little tasks means I work faster, and that makes my hourly rate go up without it costing my clients more and without sacrificing accuracy. But really, what I love most about using efficiency-boosting macros like these is that they make me feel like I’m the captain of my own spaceship. The control panel is only as complicated as I want it to be, and I can always add new magic buttons as I discover the need for them.


*I’m a freelancer. The boss is me.

About Ben Dare

Ben Dare is a Professional Member of the CIEP and copyedits/proofreads for projects on sustainable food systems and sustainable living (and almost anything else when asked nicely). Otherwise, he’s probably playing with Lego or Gravitrax, cooking, running, swimming or (regrettably) doing chores.

About Katherine Kirk

Katherine Kirk is a fiction editor who lives halfway up a volcano in Ecuador. She works on all types of fiction for adults, especially Science Fiction and Literary Fiction.

She also edits Tabletop Role-playing Game (TTRPG) content. Katherine can be found talking about macros on Twitter and Mastodon.

 

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: purple leaf and water droplet both by Pixabay on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Forum matters: Creating and editing web content

This feature comes from the band of CIEP members who serve as forum moderators. 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.

Posts on this topic that are more than a year old might be of only historical interest, given how fast technology changes. The threads referred to in this article have been selected because they link pretty directly to work on websites, but don’t forget that issues of accessibility also apply to (or can be found in relation to) other media, such as PDFs.

Your own website

Although many editors and proofreaders rely on social media to network and expand their business, there is no doubt that having your own website helps establish your professionalism and is a good place for information about you that may get lost on Facebook and Instagram, or when LinkedIn and Twitter revamp their algorithms, or a newcomer takes people up another highway. One member’s request, Advice needed: moving from self-publishing to traditional fiction editing, ranged far and wide and pointed to just that conclusion.

Even if you’ve embraced the idea of developing a website it can be a slog, and a quick reach-out via the forums has kept members on track (‘How best to prioritise?’). After deciding to use a website design company, forum members have asked for recommendations, in threads entitled ‘website’ and ‘Web hosting and domain registrars’. Even that tricky sub-subject of emails has been covered in Email hosting recommendations.

Many CIEP members create and manage their own websites and have shared hard-earned advice on sites and specifics. You may already have chosen a provider, but if you are thinking of managing your own website then maybe you should have a look first at: Squarespace help; Creating a website then Websites again; Portfolio on WordPress website and New member & request for advice.

Members have asked each other for a quick review of their new or revamped websites (see Quid (I proofread your website) pro quo (you proofread mine) and quick website check) and for help on specifics such as T&Cs and Domain Name Extensions, or about the principles of Pricing and its absence on editor websites and the Use of first-person in freelance websites. The number of replies does vary, and sometimes the first one nails the answer, while at other times the discussion ranges so far you feel you’ve attended a mini-course in the subject – see Struggling to be competitive.

There are some topics that apply to more than websites but will certainly add a professional gloss, such as a source to spruce up the background of your profile pic in Useful website to create/edit profile pics or useful advice on accessibility in Text colours and backgrounds – best and worst for legibility? and Q about hyperlinks in Forum signature.

Laptop and notebook

Working on other websites

You don’t have to have created a website to be able to work on one (although it does help), but it is worth doing some training on the subject. CIEP offers two specific courses: Editing Digital Content and Web editing. But the forums are also up there when it comes to learning. We’ve all had an itch when we’ve spotted some bad practice and asked ourselves, should I say something? Read the thread and then decide.

You’d think a business would see editing their website as a no-brainer, but sometimes getting at the content can be tricky. Copyediting of websites and general advice on editing a website offer some useful insights and links.

SEO and accessibility are two aspects that you really need to get to grips with if you are going to offer a good service to website clients, and the forums are full of good advice on: best font/typeface for emails; quote marks and other punctuation for easy reading and accessibility; Rewording a bullet list for a website; Should numbers be spelled out in Websites?; Providing hyperlinks: best practice?

Good luck with your own and other websites. And don’t hold back on developing your skills and sharing your experiences through 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 credit: laptops by Louise Viallesoubranne, notebook and laptop by Marissa Grootes, both on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Talking tech: Web editors – WYSIWYG or code?

In this Talking tech column, Andy Coulson discusses two types of web editing tools – WYSIWYG and code-based – designed for editing HTML (HyperText Markup Language) content on websites.

The October 2022 issue of member newsletter The Edit is about web editing, so I’m going to look at two types of web editing tools that are well suited to editing content on sites where the content is mainly in HTML (HyperText Markup Language). The content of a webpage is generally held as an HTML file. This is an unformatted (plain text) file that contains the text content and tags describing the function of the text (heading, paragraph, etc), which can then be used to format the text or potentially manipulate it. The tags appear in angle brackets, eg <H1>title</H1>.

However, the web has changed drastically over the last ten years or so and many websites don’t only use HTML. Most sites now separate out a lot of formatting information using CSS (cascading style sheets) files. Many sites also include JavaScript and other programming code to create interactive and dynamic elements on the page. When you are focusing on the content, not only can this be a distraction, but there is potentially a lot of scope to create problems. This is why, broadly, I am focusing on tools with good HTML support, although they can also deal with other files, such as CSS and active elements like JavaScript.

Many smaller websites are created using online website creator systems such as WordPress, Squarespace and Wix. These give you direct access to the content text, making for a simpler editing experience without losing access to the advanced features described above. They make extensive use of templates that can mask a lot of complexity. They will often offer the features I’ll describe in reviewing the two types of editor below. So it is worth checking if those have been used and if you can access the content through those systems.

Text or visual editing?

The two types of tool I am going to look at are code editors and WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get). I have picked two editors, one of each type, both of which are free. Most web developers will use commercial packages, such as Adobe’s Dreamweaver WYSIWYG editor, and code editors such as Eclipse and Microsoft’s Visual Studio, but for some basic text editing the following should provide sufficient tools to let you get started.

The code editor displays the HTML code, and to preview the webpage you need to view it in a browser. In contrast, a WYSIWYG editor gives you a live preview of the page as you edit. Many of these will provide templates to help you create a professional-looking website with minimal coding. Online web creators like WordPress and Wix also tend to offer these features. WYSIWYG editors often let you work directly on the graphical screen. For example, you can drag and drop an image onto a webpage and the editor will generate the appropriate code.

So, you might wonder, why would you use a code editor, particularly as WYSIWYG editors often incorporate a code editor? For me the answer is simplicity. Most code editors are smaller, simpler programs. There are fewer features, but that also means there are fewer to sort through to find what you want, and the learning curve can be less steep. The code editor, generally, uses less memory, which can still be an advantage even with today’s big memory machines. If you need to test the HTML files, you can do this with your web browser (or more probably web browsers, as things may work differently in Chrome and Firefox). Ultimately though, this will come down to personal choice.

None of the webpage editing tools (as far as I am aware) have features like Track Changes or comments. This means you will need to keep track of these separately. While you can add comments to HTML by enclosing them in ‘<!–’ and ‘–>’ tags, they are not that easy to see within the HTML file. Using these will depend on what your client needs.

Code: Notepad++

For this review I am going to use Notepad++, which is a very flexible general code editor with good HTML support. While this is not aimed purely at web editing, I think it is a clear and well-written program that is simply nice to use. It can be downloaded from here.

Screenshot from Notepad++

Notepad++ provides a relatively familiar interface to anyone who has used older versions (pre-ribbon) of Word. Much of the left-hand side of the menu and many of the buttons will be familiar too. The real strengths of a code editor are the features to help you read through the HTML (or other code) easily, such as code completion (where the editor recognises commands or tags as you type and completes them for you, reducing missed closing tags) and syntax highlighting (where tag names and the values associated with them are highlighted in different colours, allowing you to more easily read the text). Here I’ve used the Style Configurator in the Settings menu to tell the program this is HTML and select a colour scheme – for example, blue for tags and pale brown for text.

WYSIWYG: BlueGriffon

For this review I am using BlueGriffon, which you can download from here. It is based on the same rendering engine (the bit of software that turns the HTML and other code into a webpage) as the Firefox web browser.

BlueGriffon has a nice clean interface and typically opens with the webpage in WYSIWYG view. In the screenshot below, I have used the dual view that opens a code editor with the webpage view. You can work directly in the webpage view, so correcting spelling mistakes like ‘servive’ in the last line of ‘About Me’ is straightforward. As you move around the webpage view on the left, the elements are highlighted in the code editor.

Screenshot from BlueGriffon

Many of the basic formatting features are shown down the left-hand side of the screen and help you to add neatly formatted (and hence coded) content. Compared to Dreamweaver, BlueGriffon has a relatively simple interface and limited feature set. This can be an advantage, as in editing the content you will only need a small proportion of the features available.

I mentioned testing in different web browsers earlier, and one nice feature in BlueGriffon is the globe button on the toolbar. If you click on this it allows you to open the file using another application, typically a web browser. If you have maths or foreign language characters this is worth doing, as these are examples of things that will render differently on different browsers.

Summary

BlueGriffon is available on Windows, Mac and Linux, but Notepad++ is only available on Windows and Linux. There is an alternative, CotEditor, for Mac that offers similar features to Notepad++. All three of these are free to download, which makes them very practical for occasional use, but they also have sufficient features for more intensive use.

Quick tip: Site maps

Here’s a quick tip that may be useful when you are working with websites. If you need to check what pages a website contains you can create a site map. A site map can be used to help search engines understand your website, or for you to visualise the website’s structure. Essentially, it is a list of all the pages.

There are a number of site map generators on the internet; I have used xml-sitemaps.com. Here you enter the name of the homepage of the site and the system goes off and searches through all the branches of the website (or ‘crawls’ it, to use the technical term), generating a list of pages. You can then use this to check you have all the pages that need editing.

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 publicarray on Pixabay, Notepad and BlueGriffon screenshots by Andy Coulson.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Flying Solo: Facts for fiction editors

In this Flying Solo column, Sue Littleford looks at how the Going Solo toolkit’s work record spreadsheet can be modified for use by fiction editors, and finds out how three fiction editors keep records about their work.

Fiction editors can’t avoid diving into non-fiction when they’re running their businesses rather than editing. The Going Solo toolkit’s work record spreadsheet (available as a member benefit – you’ll need to be logged in to the CIEP website to download it) is heavily geared towards the kind of breakdown of jobs that a non-fiction editor will find useful. Those categories don’t really work for fiction editing, beyond word count, time taken and fee charged, so I’ve been talking to three fiction editors about their own record-keeping.

Why keep records about completed work?

Editors and proofreaders in all niches need to keep track of their work and the time it takes them if they’re to have a solid basis from which to calculate quotes of cost and time. In June 2021, I looked at how to use the filter with a spreadsheet of data about the work you’ve done to get the best use of it when it comes to preparing a new quote or estimate.

Another benefit of compiling records of your work (for CIEP members and prospective members) is that you can send in a spreadsheet of the relevant details with an upgrade application instead of having to type out everything again on the application form, and it’s easy to see when you’ve achieved the necessary hours of experience.

But the main and ongoing benefit is not having to snatch figures out of the air when it comes to your pricing, and knowing the answer to the eternal question ‘How long will it take?’ You can also see if you’re getting faster or slower overall, see the impact using a new tool makes on your speeds (or a change in the material you’re working with) and, especially with repeat clients, ensure consistency in your pricing approach, and see how jobs from a particular source compare.

If you provide several services – manuscript assessment, development editing, structural editing, line editing, copyediting, proofreading – you can also see which is the most rewarding in a financial sense, which gives you best return for your time, and it helps you to tailor bundles of services at a sensible price for your business.

And now, a warning! You may be tempted to keep minimal records, perhaps just your invoices, but you really should be keeping full records: anyone planning on upgrading (and all members will need to achieve PM status to remain in the Institute, which means applying for at least one upgrade: see p4 of the Member Handbook for time limits) will need a record of the work they’ve done to show that they have the requisite hours of the right type.

In addition, in the UK, you will need to be able to show HMRC evidence of the hours you work, in order to support your calculations for tax relief on the costs of working at home. If you live (or at least pay tax) elsewhere, be sure to check your own country’s requirements – but if you still have CIEP upgrades to do, you’ll need your breakdown of hours worked available and categorised.

Facts for fiction editors is definitely A Thing!

Three editors, three approaches to record-keeping

Here’s how three editors handle their records.

1. Going Solo toolkit with modifications

Now an editor of fiction and creative non-fiction, APM Jill French started her business mainly focused on non-fiction, and finds the Going Solo toolkit’s work record spreadsheet works well for her way of thinking, with the addition of ‘manuscript assessment’ as a category of work. Each round of editing the same book is logged as a separate job, which gives her enough data to analyse when it comes to pricing another job of the same stage.

2. Combining two off-the-shelf systems

IM Katherine Kirk uses both the work record from the Going Solo toolkit and Maya Berger’s TEA system (CIEP member discount available). Katherine is working towards PM status and finds the analysis and tracking offered in the jobs spreadsheet helps her to maintain a good record to support her application in due course. But she finds that TEA works better for her for financial records, and so she maintains both, having simply hidden the columns that are irrelevant to her business (columns N–S from the Going Solo spreadsheet).

Katherine uses the average words per hour for that particular kind of work to inform her estimates, but, depending on the client, may also do a sample edit to check. She records these sample edits in TEA in order to be prepared if that client comes back. If the client doesn’t return, Katherine has data ready to hand on the price she quoted, and can see what impact changing the price has on landing the client.

3. Tailored record-keeping

Nicky Taylor, an APM, has developed her own record-keeping system over the years. Like Jill, she records each type of work for the same book as separate jobs, so a development edit and a copyedit get their own rows in her spreadsheet.

Nicky said to me, ‘Looking at all my data made me realise that manuscript critiques on their own were simply not financially viable, so I stopped offering that service; if I hadn’t recorded everything, I doubt I would have known.’ Music to my ears about the real-world value of keeping business data.

For a development edit, Nicky records the onboarding time, reading time, report-writing time; for a copy- or line edit, she will record the time spent on each pass – she always does a full read-through and two passes, and has a column in her spreadsheet for each of these.

Included in her records are columns for pre-returning the job, which covers time for checking comments, checking over the style sheet and completing the handover tasks. Another column captures the time spent on post-edit revisions, post-edit discussions with the author, and emails. If a PDF conversion or layout work is required, this time also goes into that post-edit column.

Most of the time, the production of the style sheet is absorbed into the two passes, but may be recorded separately if the occasion demands. Production of a bible, perhaps for a planned series, will be logged separately.

Nicky includes an ‘Other’ column in her spreadsheet for different kinds of jobs, such as consultancy and other requests, recording the exact nature in the job description column. Like Katherine, Nicky also uses TEA for her financials.

The Going Solo toolkit: Work record spreadsheet

The CIEP has decided to follow Jill’s recommendation, and has added manuscript assessment to the dropdown list of types of work, which would include the kinds of tasks covered by Nicky’s ‘Other’ column. If you’re already using the spreadsheet and would like to add this to your own records, you can either download the new version (be sure to be logged in to the CIEP website first) and copy your records across, or extend that dropdown list yourself. It’s easy!

NB: All screenshots show Excel 365 on a PC. The instructions apply to PCs but Microsoft tells me they also work for Macs.

1. Select column ‘Type of work’ by clicking on the column header (D), which turns the column grey. A black down-arrow shows when your cursor is in the right position to select.

2. On the Data tab …

… open Data Validation in the Data Tools group by clicking the little down-arrow:

3. Select Data Validation from the dropdown menu:

4. You’ll see this:

Click Yes.

5. You’ll see this:

Now you can type a comma, a space and MA into the end of the Source box.

Check the ‘Apply these changes to all other cells with the same settings’ box if you’ve added other tabs that have this same list, otherwise you can leave it blank.

It will look like this:

Click on OK.

You’re done! You can now use the new code, and you can, if you like, add others that suit the work you do. You might want to add consultancy as a category, for instance, if that makes sense for the work you do. You don’t have to use codes – you could spell out the entire word, or use a fuller abbreviation. Once you’ve got the hang of this, you can personalise your spreadsheet exactly as you like. That said …

Four reminders

Reminder #1

The Admissions Panel explained to me, when I was developing the Going Solo toolkit, that they want to see your copyediting and proofreading hours on your upgrade application, so remember to keep recording these clearly and separately, no matter what else you decide to record.

Reminder #2

If you’re not sure how to get the best use of the data you’ve gone to the trouble of collecting, see my earlier ‘Flying solo’ post on using the filter functions.

Reminder #3

The sooner you start keeping detailed records, the sooner you’ll have compiled a useful bank of data to help with price and time estimation for new jobs.

Reminder #4

If you’re inspired by Nicky’s level of detail, don’t forget that you can continue to personalise your own copy of the Going Solo toolkit work record. Inserting additional columns is easy!

1. Click on the column letter immediately to the right of where you want to insert a new column.

Here, I’ve highlighted column I – see the colour change where the column’s label is, and the column itself has turned grey.

2. Right-click, then select Insert and a column will arrive between, in this example, Author name(s) and Total time taken (hours).

3. … and you will get this:

4. The Author name(s) column is still H, but Total time taken (hours) is now column J and we have a new, blank column I. Type in the name you want for the heading. Repeat as often as you need to add new columns, always clicking at the head of the column to the right of where you want to add a new one.

5. Columns in the wrong order? Move them with cut and paste. The column will always paste in to the left of where you click, as creating the new column did.

6. Unneeded columns? Instead of clicking on Insert, click on Delete if you’re sure you don’t want that column, or Hide, if you think you may need it at some point. (To unhide, select the columns on either side of the hidden column(s) and right-click; click on Unhide.)


Buy a print copy or download the second edition of Going Solo: Creating your freelance editorial business from here.

About Sue Littleford

Sue Littleford is the author of the CIEP guide Going Solo, now in its second edition. She went solo with her own freelance copyediting business, Apt Words, in March 2007 and specialises in scholarly humanities and social sciences.

 

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: office desk by Jessica Lewis Creative, laptop by Karolina Grabowska, both on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Forum matters: Fiction and other specialisms

This feature comes from the band of CIEP members who volunteer as forum moderators. 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.

Headline graphic saying 'Forum matters: Fiction and other specialisms' with books laid out on a white surface

Supporting members’ specialisms

One of the best things about the CIEP community is the sheer breadth of knowledge held and shared freely by its members. From FRedit to flamingos, there’s bound to be a tasty morsel that will make your life easier, or at least a little more interesting, especially if you dig a little deeper into the specialist groups, which were created to avoid overwhelming the core forums. Find out more about joining one or more of these forums.

Since this issue of The Edit is all about fiction, it’s an opportunity to draw your attention to the Fiction forum, which has over 500 members. Of course, fiction editors will gain a lot from the main forums in the first place, and recent useful threads have covered checking facts, how deep down the rabbit hole you need to go (and whether you should charge extra for spelunking), flamingo migration and the etymology of riverbank architecture. Might these reappear in this year’s CIEP conference quiz? Best take notes.

An exploration on SfEPLine of which tools are available to editors with vision loss or impairment (reassuring to know that loss of vision might not necessarily mean an end to an editing career) connects quite nicely with a thread in the Newbie forum (an underrated goldmine of good advice, if you ask us) about screen readers and Latin abbreviations. Meanwhile, a Marketplace offer spurred a sensitive discussion on SfEPLine about the ethics, legalities and practicalities of working with an author who is not yet an adult, in order to safeguard all stakeholders.

The Macros forum also has useful information for fiction editors, and if you’re looking to add more macros to your toolbox but don’t know where to start, try one of the ones recommended in this thread. A handy macro for fiction editors might be Paul Beverley’s ChapterChopper, which shows the number of words per chapter. This could help editors to pinpoint developmental issues like pace slumps or info-dumping.

If you work with science fiction, you might be interested in Reedsy Sci-Fi week (August–September 2022), or catch up with recordings afterwards. This information appeared on the Events forum, full of links to happenings of interest to editors that you might regret missing.

If your special interest is fiction, this is just the tip of it. Come along as we open the curtain and show you what the Fiction group has been up to.

Digging deeper

This section is link-free because not all of our forum users are members of the Fiction forum. If you’d like to access it, find out how in ‘Joining a specialist forum’, below.

The Fiction Special Interest Group (Fic SIG) invites any member to give a talk on a relevant topic of their choice. Kath Kirk gave a webinar on the special considerations copyeditors need for editing science fiction and fantasy novels. She discussed how to keep track of wibbly-wobbly timelines, and this spurred further discussion in the Fiction forum about which software can help editors to visualise it.

Clare Law’s talk on using data-driven editing to become more efficient, get paid more, reduce anxiety and beat imposter syndrome led to robust discussions in the Fiction forum about which silent changes fiction editors usually make, and which queries they’ve stored in their TextExpander arsenals.

Members of the Fiction forum also shared resources for working on children’s fiction, and how to format a fiction manuscript for submission to a literary agent, as well as recommendations of courses for editors who are looking to build their fiction-editing skills.

If you missed these fabulous discussions, don’t worry! Notes from the talks are shared on the Fiction forum afterwards.

Joining a specialist forum

There’s no barrier to CIEP members’ entry into the specialist groups. Everybody should join their local group forum. Even international members can be local through the Cloud Clubs. Apart from Fiction, other topic-based groups are Music, English Language Teaching, Education, MedSTEM, Languages (translation), Legal and more – and sometimes they’re where the real action is!

If you’re interested in a deeper exploration of a niche or subject related to editing, follow the step-by-step instructions on this page or get in touch with one of the forum moderators.

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: books by ready made and woman in a hat by Olivia cox, both on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Flying solo: How can we apply our editorial judgement to our businesses?

In her regular Flying solo column, Sue Littleford considers how the critical skill of editorial judgement can be applied to running an editorial business.

Editorial judgement calls for an understanding of context, for knowing your stuff when it comes to technical matters (whether that’s the finer points of grammar or the finer points of Word or the finer points of inorganic chemistry, if that’s your niche), for knowing when to press ahead and when to leave well alone, and for knowing what resources you need and how to use them.

Each of these skills can also be applied to the way you run your business.

Understanding context

Marketing works best when you know who you’re marketing to. Who do you work for? Who do you want to work for? Who’s your ideal client, and what’s your ideal subject matter, your ideal content, your ideal everything?

Just as in copyediting and in proofreading, you can’t make good decisions until you understand the context.

If you have a marketing budget – and that is a time budget, every bit as much as a cash one – then you want to spend it wisely.

What will give you, to coin a phrase, the biggest bang for your buck? Or your hour?

Where do the clients you want to work with hang out? I closed my Facebook business page. No, don’t squeal in horror! My clients aren’t there – in terms of social media and looking to hire, they’re over on LinkedIn, which is where I’ve placed my focus. I’m not wasting my time updating content for people who aren’t there to read it.

Most of my clients come via my CIEP Directory entry, which I had just updated before drafting a bit more of this post. It’s a worthwhile investment of my time to keep my Directory entry fresh – that’s the context in which my ideal clients are most likely to find me.

Technical matters

The business equivalent of knowing your subjunctive from your style palette is fairly wide-ranging.

Do you understand the laws under which your business operates? Do you have all the necessary licences and permissions? UK residents have a fairly easy ride, it always seems to me, when registering as self-employed. I hear much more complicated stories from people trading in other countries. You need to be on top of these technical issues.

Are you au fait with taxation rules? Are you attending HM Revenue and Customs’ live or recorded webinars on allowable business expenses, record keeping and completing your self-assessment return?

Are you budgeting for the Health and Social Care levy payable from April 2022 being added to Class 4 National Insurance contributions (and then as a separate tax from April 2023)?

If you’re not in the UK, are you doing something similar in your own jurisdiction, ensuring you’re up to speed with the latest tax changes that affect you?

Are you reading up on and generally getting ready for Making Tax Digital (MTD) in April 2024 (again, UK folks only)? Have you started investigating the app you’ll need to use to make your returns?

How about your contracts and your terms and conditions? Fit for purpose? Compliant with the law of your land?

Are you on top of IT security – firewalls, anti-malware programs, back-ups?

What about banking? Do you operate somewhere a separate business account is mandatory? (It’s not a requirement in the UK, for instance, but it is in some countries.) Would a separate business account, even if you’re in the UK, make sense in your circumstances?

Judging what action to take

Now you’ve layered up these transferable skills, you understand the context you want to work within and you know where you want to steer your business. It’s time to exercise more judgement in deciding what action you need to take.

Just as you take an overview of an editorial job, and use the brief and your own technical expertise to decide how to tackle each specific piece of work, apply that same thought process to the wider scale of your business.

Do you need a website? Or a better one?

Should you start a blog? Or should you revive or close down a neglected one?

How will you use social media to market yourself? Which platforms will repay your investment of time? Do you need to remove yourself from any that aren’t repaying your time, or try new ones?

Speaking of time, how should you schedule yours? How many hours a day do you want to work? What steps do you need to bring your current hours up or down to that level? Do you need more clients, or just better-paying work? How will you get from where you are to where you want to be?

How does your work fit around your home life? It’s been especially tricky for so many people in times of Covid, and often difficult adjustments have been made in so many households. Have you found the sweet spot yet? What further adjustments would help? Is any untapped support available, or do you just have to endure for a while longer?

Keep your eyes on the prize – you’re thinking now at whole-business level, not just the piece of work in front of you on your desk.

What about a business retreat? Can you either get away by yourself for a couple of days, or with one or two trusted friends who need to do some in-depth thinking about their big pictures too?

If you need to stay at home, can you schedule a couple of days with your email and phone off? Give yourself breathing space in which to lift your eyes up to the horizon and take the long view of where you want to be headed.

From your musings, you will return to your quotidian world with action plans for each area of your business that was under consideration this time.

Maybe you should concentrate your business retreat on just one area. I know I need to be better prepared for disaster recovery, for instance, and I need to give some serious thinking and investigation time to it.

Judging what action not to take

But, just as in editing and proofreading, you also need to know when to leave something untouched – it might not be perfect, but it’s certainly good enough. Don’t pressurise yourself to write action plans to overhaul parts of your business that are working well enough.

Again, just as in editing and proofreading, you also need to think about the brief – the framework you’re operating in – and budgetary constraints. Perfection is a ridiculous and pointless goal. Good enough within the circumstances is what we’re aiming for.

Time spent running your business is an overhead that facilitates earning money, but it is not time spent actually earning it. So keep your action plans modest. No counsels of perfection. No eye-wateringly demanding roadmaps to some unachievable Utopia.

Take simple steps (if they’re not simple, you’ve not broken them down enough) that will either repay the investment now, or lay the groundwork for part of a larger strategy. Just keep it moving forward. Think in terms of the tortoise and the hare, if the tortoise could occasionally break into a trot.

Does each step take you closer to the goal? Or are you doing things that are unnecessary, and no one is paying you for? You try to avoid that when you’re working with text. Apply the same judgement to your business.

Good enough is good enough.

Notepad with a to do list

What about resources?

Now you’ve worked out which actions you need to take, and which you can delay or completely forget about, what do you need to help you along?

How will you make your plans practical?

Do you know where to find business support (in the UK, try Small Business Britain or IPSE) or guidance on getting along with HMRC? How about guidance for MTD preparation?

Would you benefit from advice on IT security? Or on contracts?

If you’re a member of the CIEP at one of the professional grades, did you know you can get some free legal advice? (Log in to the CIEP website, go to the members’ area, then Benefits and scroll down to the last block of info.)

Are you aware of all the member benefits the CIEP offers? It’s a growing list! Are you signed up to and do you use the forums? They’re one of the best benefits – places to ask questions and offer answers to others, and take part in discussions that may well broaden your scope. Even if you only join the forums to lurk – to read without posting – you’ll find a wealth of helpful and interesting material.

If you’re not a member, then take a look at the resources the CIEP offers to the public.

More prosaically, do you buy reference books on paper or use online versions? Style manuals, dictionaries, grammars, editorial textbooks, etc? Which is most cost-effective for you?

Have you checked you’re on the fastest broadband package you can afford from your supplier? If your connection is a bit unreliable, or slow, then you might feel it’s a sensible investment to have paper copies of certain reference works – perhaps in addition to online versions.

What about founding a mutual support group – people who can help out if you can’t work and need someone to complete the job? Could that group also be a mastermind or accountability group to support you in your business as well as your editing and proofreading?

The bottom line

You’ve spent a lot of time and effort – and money – in developing your skills as an editor and/or proofreader. You’ve undertaken training to learn your craft and how to apply editorial judgement as you work with the text.

Businesses don’t happen by accident – and they don’t stay viable by accident, for the most part.

The judgement you rely on when working with words is just as applicable to your business life. Make good use of it!

About Sue Littleford

Sue Littleford is the author of the CIEP guide Going Solo, now in its second edition. She went solo with her own freelance copyediting business, Apt Words, in March 2007 and specialises in scholarly humanities and social sciences.

 

 

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: tortoise by Marzena7 on Pixaby, notebook by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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