Issue 64, 22 July 2002
Editor: Jean Hollis Weber
In this issue...
What's the best way to edit: on paper or on screen?
When to spell out acronyms
Another example of editorial responsibilities
Discussion list for users of Word on the Macintosh
Developing your personal strategic plan
My books: Taming Microsoft Word 2000 and others
Diversify your business and increase your income
I'm a big fan of electronic editing and think that any editor who wants to survive and thrive in the coming years must know how to edit electronically and do it well.
However, editors still need to know how to edit on paper, and that means you also need to know traditional editing and proofreading marks. If you need a refresher on the use of these marks, you might find these two sites helpful.
Inkwell Editorial, http://www.inkwelleditorial.com/proofreaders_marks.htm
University of Colorado at Boulder, http://www.colorado.edu/Publications/styleguide/symbols.html
Editors often debate whether editing on paper or on screen is a better way to work. In many work environments, what's "better" is irrelevant -- if the company's processes require the use of Word's track changes feature, then that's what you use; if on-paper editing is required, you use that. If someone else is responsible for accepting editorial changes, you take that into consideration when choosing a work flow. Each work environment is different, so the "best" way of working is whatever works best in that environment -- not necessarily the method you personally prefer.
That doesn't mean you can't use your preferred method and then transfer your edits to the other medium if necessary. For example, I edit most documents both on screen and on hard copy (because I find different problems using each method, and thus deliver a better result than if I used only one methd). I then transfer everything I've found in both edits to whatever form I've been asked to return to the client. (In my case, as I work almost exclusively remotely, I usually return an electronic copy). Since I do multiple-pass editing anyway, I don't consider this to be any extra work, and I'm sure my clients much prefer reading my typing rather than my handwriting!
Most editors will, at some time in their careers, need to use Word and its revision features, whether they like it or not.
I have worked in many situations where I (as editor) am cleaning up material written by someone who has left the company (and I'm the final stop before publication or page layout), or I'm editing for a group of people who aren't professional writers (and they want to see what I've done, but don't want to have to retype it), or I'm working remotely and the only practical way to do the work is electronically. I'm sure many editors will be faced with one or all of these situations at some time.
Editors need to be flexible in their approach to their work. Here's a short piece I wrote about different ways of working and when you might prefer each of them. http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews10.htm#ways
You might also be interested in what I have to say in Chapter 1 of my book Electronic Editing, which you can download from http://www.jeanweber.com/books/e-edit.htm
Technical writers are usually instructed to spell out acronyms the first time they are used in a document, but is this always appropriate? I contend that it's not, and indeed the practice is outdated and should be abandoned, or at least modified from a rule to a guideline ("when it will help the reader").
I've found that spelling out common acronyms often adds no real value, though it does sometimes serve a useful purpose as a memory-jogger; and in online documents (online help or web pages), "first use" is often a meaningless term.
If the audience is unfamiliar with the acronym, what they really need is a brief explanation of what it refers to. For example, CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access. Did that tell you anything? What if I said it's a type of digitial mobile (cellular) telephone? (GSM is another type.) Now at least you have some idea what we're discussing. Sometimes that's clear from the context; often it isn't.
So I'd go for a glossary (easily located) somewhere in the help system, on a website or in the back of a book, where the curious can look up with the acronym stands for. This glossary should include short definitions.
Within text, popup definitions or a print equivalent (such as footnotes or parentheses) may be useful if you can manage to include them without interfering with the flow of the text.
In issue 62, I asked readers to send me any job ads, duty statements, or summaries of editorial roles to add to my collection. One reader sent me an advertisement for an editorial position, which I've amended to remove identifying details. I've added it to the series on this page:
Last issue I asked if anyone knew of a Mac-specific list (or a list with a lot of hints for users of Word on the Mac).
Chuck Brandstater firstname.lastname@example.org responded with this information.
Send a one-line message to Listproc@scu.edu.au in this form:
subscribe word-mac <Your First and Last Names>
(Don't include the angle brackets.)
What do you want your life to be like in 3, 5, 10 years? How can you achieve your goals? In my Business section, Gary Lockwood offers some advice on why and how to develop a personal strategic plan. http://www.jeanweber.com/business/strategic.htm
Your time is limited, and so is the amount you can charge for your time. To increase your income, you need to diversify. While you've been reading this newsletter, thousands of people all over the world have been working to put money in my bank account. By this time next week, YOU could be making extra money too. Get full no-obligation information here.
© Copyright 2002, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
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