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Issue 66, 8 October 2002

ISSN 1442-8652

Editor: Jean Hollis Weber

In this issue...

Taming Microsoft Word 2002
Technical editing as quality assurance
Starting an editing portfolio
Separating the message from the writing when editing
More on the use of no. for number
Videos for teaching on-line editing?
Australian Publishers Association training - Upcoming workshops
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Taming Microsoft Word 2002

I said I wouldn't do it... but I did. My new book is due out this week, as a downloadable PDF. Printed copies will be available later in the month. A table of contents and ordering information are here:

Here's an extract:

Exchanging files with other versions of Word: some incompatibilities

If you exchange files with people using earlier versions of Word, you will find that any comments inserted using Word 2002 will not be handled correctly by Word 97 or Word 2000.

Therefore, it's best to not do this, if you can avoid it.

Insertions and deletions marked by Word 2002 display correctly in earlier versions of Word, and the Next and Previous buttons move correctly to them.

If you open in Word 2002 a file created or modified in Word 97 or Word 2000, any comments, insertions, and deletions are correctly displayed. Therefore, if the last person to deal with the file is using Word 2002, they should be able to review all the changes without problems. But if the last person to deal with the file is using an earlier version of Word, reviewing is likely to be difficult.

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Technical editing as quality assurance

The August 2002 issue of _Technical Communication_, the journal of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), includes an article titled "Technical Editing as Quality Assurance" by Michelle Corbin, Pat Moell, and Mike Boyd. It's a terrific summary of the things technical editors can - and should - contribute to writing projects. The article compares technical editing processes to software testing processes (thus providing some good arguments that have meaning for a large number of our managers and clients).

Most interesting to me, the article divides content editing activities into comprehensive editing, usability editing, and copy editing. "Usability editing" is one of the topics I've been pushing for years, but I'd never seen - or thought of - a name for it!

If you are a member of the STC, you should have received your copy of this issue (Volume 49, Number 3) some time ago. If you are not a member, do try to find a copy to read -- or consider joining the STC.

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A book titled "" by Mark Joyner came out this past week, and within 48 hours it was ranked number 1 at It stayed in that position for about 36 hours. I don't know how many copies that represents, but it's a lot.

This book should be required reading for anyone trying to market anything over the Internet -- and possibly for anyone who buys anything over the Internet.


Starting an editing portfolio

On one of the discussion lists, someone asked about portfolios of editing work: how do you show what you've done? Marked-up copy? Before and after examples? Here's what I said; please write and share your suggestions.

If you're looking for work with a publisher or some other employer who wants you to mark up copy which someone else will deal with, the interviewer might want to see what you did. Sometimes markup is useful if it shows that you changed some things and queried others. Here I'm using "markup" to include both hard-copy and electronic markup.

However, in my experience, a simple before-and-after should be fine for most purposes, especially if you did all the editing work.

In many cases, you can't show actual work samples because the material is confidential. This is a problem technical writers face all the time. The solution is to find a document that needs editing, optionally mark up a copy, and produce an example of the improved version.

I've tried to get in the habit of keeping a copy of the original file (which I should do anyway, as insurance against loss of the copy I'm working on as well as to be part of an audit trail of who did what on a document), so I do have a "before" sample to go with the finished version.

My work situations usually involve making the changes directly into the file. Usually (at least when working in Word) I have Track Changes turned on, so I can archive a copy of the electronically marked up file, but I often then simply accept all my changes in the final version. Often other people have marked up the file as well, and I incorporate their changes as well. I think a lot of people work this way (often out of necessity rather than because it's their preferred method), so any sensible potential employer should recognize that.

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Separating the message from the writing when editing

Recently I turned two editing classes loose on my article "Relevant and irrelevant grammar rules," published here: which I was revising for publication elsewhere.

The first class hacked it to pieces. Much of the criticism amounted to "too chatty" but they don't know the market. I explained some background (like the editor asking me to add some "scene-setting for techwriters" stuff) but some of the class still seemed to disapprove.

The second class was so happy with the message in the content that they didn't see anything wrong with the paper. I had to encourage them to pretend they disagreed before they could get enough distance to find some faults. Even then, I had to drop lots of heavy clues before they picked up on any of the major problems.

For example, Geoff Hart had previously identified several major problems in the article, including the jumbling up of "grammar" and "usage" issues -- many of my examples of "irrelevant grammar" aren't grammar issues at all! The first class figured that one out quite quickly; the second class couldn't see it until I pointed it out -- or else no one was willing to speak up.

The lesson here, I think, is that it's easy to pick holes in writing that we don't feel personally involved with, and it's easy to question the logic in a message we disagree with, but it's much more difficult to do the same when editing a message we do agree with.

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More on the use of no. for number

Lin M. Hall wrote,
In my United States Government Printing Office Style Manual, March 1984 edition, on page 140 in Chapter 9 dealing with abbreviations, it says--

9.38. For parts of publications mentioned in parentheses, brackets, footnotes, sidenotes, list of references, synonymies, tables, and leaderwork, and followed by figures, letters, or Roman numerals, the following abbreviations are used:

Then follows a list of 21 items that include--

No., Nos. (number, numbers)

In the Australian Government Style Manual, Fifth edition, at paragraph 7.78, it says, "The word 'number' is frequently represented by no. (plural: nos)--the contraction of its equivalent in Italian (numero). A full stop is used to prevent any confusion with the word 'no'. A capital is not needed unless capitals are being used throughout an expression, for example in the title of a numbered series."

Then at paragraph 7.80 it says, "The contraction may be used in tables, ..."

At 7.81, "A space is always used between [the contraction] and the numeral or numerals."

PS My email client can't do long dashes so I used two hyphens together instead of an em dash above.

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Videos for teaching on-line editing?

A reader asked "Are there videos that teach on-line editing?"

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Australian Publishers Association training - Upcoming workshops

Apologies for the late notice on some of these, but I didn't get this information in time for the last newsletter. If you would like to be on the mailing list for Australian Publishers Association Training Courses, see the contact information at the end of this item.

Onscreen Editing for Publication

Editing for publication using Microsoft Word. Suitable for new or experienced editors and writers. Students work on individual PCs. Further details are at Presenter: Brett Lockwood - VIC Society of Editors
Two day workshop, Sydney - Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November, 10.30am - 5.00pm
UTS - Faculty of Information Technology
Cost: $460 Members, $540 Non Members

Promotional Writing Workshop: Making words work harder

Making your book cover work hard for you! - standing out from your competition, getting the potential buyer's attention - getting the sale! This workshop takes you through the steps of good copywriting to make that book cover/blurb/press release the best sales tool it can be!
Presenter: Jo Bramble
Melbourne Friday 25th October, 9.00am 4.30pm
Cost: $335 Members, $380 Non Members

Effective Project Management in Publishing

Necessary skills for effective project management
Gathering information; establishing the reporting process; essentials of scheduling, budgeting, assembling a team, allocating work.
Manuscript assessment, revising schedules, budgets and team make up/work allocation; coordinating and doing the work; getting the best out of your team (authors, subcontractors & suppliers); conflict resolution; pitfalls; salvaging a project; decision-making; common types of project management problems; juggling multiple projects and dealing with rush jobs.
Presenter: Karen Deighton-Smith
Melbourne Friday 11th October, 9.00am 4.30pm
Cost: $350 Members, $395 Non Members

Finance for Non-financial Staff

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a profit and loss statement, a cashflow statement and a balance sheet? Have you ever tripped over a gross margin only to fall onto a liquidity ratio? Two of the industry's leading financial types combine forces to introduce the basics of financial management in book publishing to a non-specialist audience.
Presenters: David Cocking - Finance Director - Hodder Headline Australia; David Martin - Company Accountant - Allen & Unwin
Sydney Thursday 17th October; Melbourne Thursday 24th October, 9.00am 4.30pm
Cost: $320 Members, $370 Non Members

To register or for more information please contact Libby O'Donnell, Industry Training Co-ordinator, Australian Publishers Association Ph: 02 9281 9788
20% discount applies when 5 or more attend from one company. Members' rate applies to members of APA, Society of Editors, Galley Club, and AGDA.

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© Copyright 2002, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.

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