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Issue 18, 29 July 1999

ISSN 1442-8652
Editor: Jean Hollis Weber

In this issue...

Feature article: Audience and document analysis
Resource of the week: Web Site Journal
Tip of the week: Get good at using Microsoft Word
Follow up: Checklist for freelance editors
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Feature article: Audience and document analysis

Moved to

Resource of the week: Web Site Journal

If you need to edit Web pages, you may find Netscape's Web Site Journal useful. Its archives include many interesting and relevant articles; look for links to "Previous tips" and "Past interviews" on the left-hand side of the screen. (Note: Web Site Journal is no longer there; I don't know if it's archived anywhere.)

Here's a sample: Amy Gahran's article on microcontent, titled "In Web Writing, Little Things Mean a Lot."

Amy Gahran says, "Microcontent is all the short bits of text that help guide the user or provide an 'at-a-glance' overview of what a given page is about. The basic categories of microcontent are:

page titles
headlines and subheads
"in-page" indexes
navigation bar links
other links
bold text
alt text
captions "

She continues with a brief but information summary of why microcontent is important and some general principles of writing (and editing) this material.

Tip of the week: Get good at using Microsoft Word

One of the most valuable tool-use skills for an editor today is a good working familiarity with Microsoft Word. Even if you work for a company that uses some other product, chances are you'll need to deal with Word documents at some point, especially if you want to change jobs or gain new clients.

If you're already using Word, learn more about it: how to use it faster, easier, more efficiently; and how to solve common problems. Subscribe to some of the Word information sources (see ).

By becoming a problem-solving resource, employee editors can improve their chances of taking on a more senior role, as described in "Technical editors' responsibilities" ( ).

Freelance editors can offer an extra skill to prospective clients and (potentially, at least) improve their earnings, possibly moving into a more consultative role.

Follow up 10: Checklist for freelance editors

Anne Waddingham, Tutor, Editing Onscreen, Publishing Training Centre, London ( ) and Tutor, Onscreen Editing, Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders (UK) ( ) writes, regarding these points in the checklist for freelance editors in issue 16 ( ):

* Select the whole document (Ctrl-A). Choose Normal from the style list. While the whole document is still selected, go to the Format menu and choose Style, then Modify. Define your Normal style as Times or Courier, 10 or 12 point, left aligned and clear all tabs. Now your whole document should be in the Normal style, and any styles that the author has applied will no longer be in effect. Bold, italic and bullets will be retained, but all tabs and alignments, different fonts, styles and indents will be gone.

* When you are defining new styles (or modifying existing ones), be sure to select the Add to Template checkbox in the Style dialog. All the styles you have defined will then be available for use with all of the files in the book.

"In the main, I'd agree with the points listed in the onscreen editors' checklist but I'd take issue with this one. First, I think it's a big mistake to mess around with your Normal template like this, adding and modifying styles willy-nilly, when it's so much easier to create your own template(s) for onscreen editing, or even for individual projects. The strength of templates is the ability to customize them - not just with styles, but with toolbars, AutoText entries and particularly macros, that indispensable tool for onscreen editors.

"Second, the above technique will not remove tabs and fonts that have been applied directly, ie not as part of the style. The best way to remove direct formatting is to select the text and then CTRL+spacebar. But remember if you select all the text, you risk losing the formatting you do want, e.g. the bold, italic, superscripts. It's safer to remove such direct formatting with global searches; then you can be more selective about it. And the tabs will stay whatever you do unless you remove them either singly or with a global search.

"As for importing into Quark, the instructions don't even mention saving documents in Rich Text Format (RTF), probably the most reliable way of retaining formatting/style information during importation - especially across the PC/Mac divide."

Jean replies: I agree with everything Anne said (and should have thought of those issues myself). The instructions as provided by my source certainly were incomplete as well as not the best way of handling some things. I'll try to feed back Anne's comments to the publisher.

© Copyright 1999, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.

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