Friday, September 9, 2016

A Primer on Using an Electronic Edit

A popular post from October 2012

by Annette Lyon

So you’ve hired an editor to go over your manuscript, and you’ve gotten the electronic file back. It’s covered in changes—additions, deletions, comments, and formatting.

How do you work with such a file? Do you pull up your original version, looking at them side by side, and make one change at a time? Sure, you could.

You could also count a haystack one piece of hay at a time—a laborious and awfully inefficient method.

As editors, sometimes we forget that clients haven’t worked with Word’s Track Changes feature before, and we send off a file assuming the person on the other end will be familiar with what they’ll see when they open it, and they'll know what to do with it.

Over the years, I have learned that that’s not always the case. Here’s a primer on how to use the Track Changes feature in Word. Knowing this stuff will make a huge difference in how much time and effort you put into your manuscript when you get your edit back.

Create a New File
The first thing to do when you open your edited file is to save it in your manuscript folder under a new name. You want to keep every version you have separate, so if you ever need to look back at an old version (or revert a section to the way it was), you can. An easy way to do that is by adding the date to the file name, such as: My_Brilliant_Novel-9-1-12.

Using Track Changes
Editors have their personal editing styles and preferences. I like to have deletions show up in the margins in bubbles, and I add comments (also margin bubbles).

When you open a file that I have edited in Microsoft Word, you'll see every change made, including additions (right in the text), plus comments, deletions, and formatting changes in those bubbles in the margins.

If you have a relatively recent version of Word, you can easily accept or reject any change. On the ribbon (that newish, button-covered menu at the top), go to the REVIEW tab.

In the CHANGES group, click the arrow buttons to navigate through the edit. Use NEXT to go to the next change. It will be highlighted. Then you can accept or reject that change and move along with the NEXT button.

If you see a chunk of the edit you're happy with as is, select the section (such as a full a sentence, several lines, or words, a paragraph, etc.) and click either the ACCEPT or REJECT button. That will accept (or reject) all of the changes in that part and move to the next change. 

The same goes for rejecting changes in large chunks—select the section and click REJECT. The ACCEPT and REJECT buttons are next to each other, so they’re easy to find and use.

Be sure to look for vertical lines in the left margin. Those indicate an addition-type change in a line. If there's been no deletion or format change (which show up in the right margin in bubbles), you could easily miss a change such as an inserted hard return, space, or punctuation mark.

Note: When you think you're done with the edit, do a final search for changes using the NEXT button. This will help you track down any lingering changes (likely additions) you missed.

Comment Bubbles
Search for comments (also under the REVIEW tab) to read and address those, although you can also do that as you move through the Track Changes. When you're done with a comment, simply right-click on it and choose DELETE COMMENT from the menu.

Note: As with searching for edits, be sure to search for comments one final time when you’re done with your edit to be sure they’re all gone!

Next Step: Proofreading
After you've gone through the accept/reject process, it's worth reading through the entire file to proofread it. It’s a good idea to have another reader (or two!) proofread it as well, because it's easy for an author's or editor's eyes (someone who's already familiar with the text) to fill in what's supposed to be there and miss errors. (This is why I almost never proof a book I also edited. The only exception is if the edit and proof are months apart so my brain has forgotten most of it.)

A good proofer will catch about 80% of mistakes, which is why it's wise to have multiple people proofread your work. With any luck, the 20% one person misses will be caught by someone else's 80%.

Inline View
Some clients prefer to see track changes inline instead of in margin balloons. (So you’d see a strikeout through a word that’s been deleted, but it’s still on the line of text, along with an inserted new word.) If you fall in this category and receive an edit from someone like me who uses balloons, you can switch the view and then use the same Accept/Reject process as with the bubble view.

To switch the view to in-line Track Changes, follow these steps (for Word 10—I imagine other versions have a similar method):

-On the ribbon menu at the top of the screen, click the Review tab.
-In the Tracking Group, next to the Track Changes button, you'll see smaller menu options.
-Click the middle option, Show Markup. A drop-down menu will appear.
-Hover over where it says Balloons, and another menu will show up.
-Click Show All Revisions Inline.

More and more editing is done electronically. I believe about 95% of Precision Editing Group’s work is electronic, which is also why we rarely edit manuscripts in WordPerfect. (It’s the superior word processor in almost every respect except this one; it has no Track Changes feature. That, and Word is the industry standard now, thanks to Bill Gates.)

Whether you’re hiring an editor or waiting for the editor at your publishing house to return your edit, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Word’s Track Changes feature. When you receive an electronic edit back, you’ll know just what to do with it, saving you time—and, likely, prevent new gray hairs.

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