Issue 35, 19 April 2000
In this issue...
Chapter 3 of Editing Online Help now available for comment
Gaining respect as an editor -- a personal anecdote
Resource: How to make PDFs without buying Adobe Acrobat
Tip: Reducing Microsoft Word 2000 file size bloat
Plain English explanation of use cases and user scenarios
Do you allow i.e. and e.g. in technical communication?
Advertisement: Electronic editing book
Now I'm making Chapter 3 available as a PDF file to anyone who would like to read and comment on it. Just send me a note requesting a copy. All I ask is that you return some comments to me. (People who commented on Chapter 1 or 2 should have already received their copy of Chapter 3; if yours didn't arrive, please let me know.)
Chapters 1 and 2 are still available for comment, too.
Early in my career, I worked in a science laboratory. Part of my job was to edit the scientists' papers before they were sent to scholarly journals. My boss required everyone else to submit their papers to me for editing, but he never gave any of his own to me. He was, in fact, a very good writer, and also somewhat pedantic about grammar.
One day a few months after I arrived, I was kibbitzing in his secretary's office and, out of curiosity about his research, I was reading some pages of a manuscript that his secretary was typing. I found an obscure point of grammar -- what he had written didn't agree with the book we were supposed to be following (Fowler's, I think). I checked the book, saw that I was right (and put a bookmark in the spot), and wrote him a polite note about it, asking whether this was perhaps an oversight on his part. (Never suggest they're ignorant, only that perhaps this time they accidentally made a mistake; after all, anyone can and everyone does.)
A bit later he came charging into my office, loudly proclaiming that I was an interfering fool (or some such). I picked up the reference book, opened it to the correct page, and handed it to him. He stomped off with the book, returned a short time later, slammed the book on my desk, and stomped off again. He also changed what he'd written. And every paper he wrote after that came across my desk for editing.
His scientific assistant told me later that I'd done exactly the right thing, and that the boss now respected me and my abilities. He loathed wimps who didn't stick up for their own professional area of expertise, but just did what they were told, right or wrong.
Of course, a different person might have reacted quite differently. And if I hadn't had a third party expert to back me up, I might have lost face as well as the argument. Some points of grammar and punctuation are conventions of usage that vary from place to place. In this case, I wasn't saying "I'm right and you're wrong," but rather "you told us to follow Fowler, but you haven't."
Thanks to Tara Calishain firstname.lastname@example.org for this pointer, posted to the Online-Writer list:
"You do not necessarily have to purchase a copy of Acrobat to make PDF files. Adobe offers a service to convert certain types of files to PDF through your browser. (You can also receive the results by e-mail.) You may examine the service at:
"You may register for a free trial. If it suits you, you can sign up for unlimited file processing for US$9.99/month or US$99.99 a year. This may be ideal for someone who does a lot of converting infrequently or only has a few things to convert."
You might like to check out Tara's website, http://www.ResearchBuzz.com which has a lot of really useful and interesting information.
Guru Kamath email@example.com (a telecommuting technical writer from India) summarises some cures for the problem of file size bloat in Microsoft Word 2000.
"The Microsoft Knowledge base had at least 8 articles on this problem or related problems. The file size bloating, mainly in Word 2000, could be due to various reasons.
"a) The Allow Fast Save feature needs to be disabled.
"Fast save appends new material added (and apparently what is deleted) as you go on writing and saving. In other words, these are incremental saves of all the edits that you have carried out on the document. If Allow Fast Saves is ON and you pass on a file which has just been saved, you pass on a whole lot of mess. However, if you do a Save As, the program will rebuild the file as one neat whole. This will reduce the file size (by removing the unwanted junk, if any).
"b) Save As is the magic word.
"Save As is the solution to all Word bloat problems. Word recreates the file and saves it again. This gets rid of several problems which the file might have had. Incidentally, if you Save a document 14 times -- the 15th time Word 2000 will automatically do a COMPLETE save (even if you have Fast Save on)! As good as a Save As and should solve your problem! (Important -- do not have Allow Fast Saves on!)
"c) Moving a document from an earlier version to Word 2000. Solution: Save as!
"Word 2000 uses compression and therefore leaves enough space when it encounters an earlier version. This causes the Word 2000 file to bloat. To solve this problem, simply add a few words or even a few spaces and do a Save As. Your file should be the correct size now. In other words -- Word finally recognizes that it is a Word 2000 file! Please do remember to save documents in Word document format (not in other formats). You will appreciate that if the doc is being saved in other formats (say Word 97 or RTF, etc) the file size could be larger as Word has to save two versions -- the Word 2000 version and the other version that you want.
"d) Graphics -- Word 2000 saves several versions of a graphic.
"When you insert a graphic in Word 2000 -- it saves several versions of the graphic. The solution to this apparently is to put a space after the graphic and save the file again (yes the magic Save As will do!) and presto it saves only one version of the graphic.
"e) Do your maths and do a simple test!
"When you open a file and save it with a few words added, the file size should be the size of your normal.dot plus a few KB more -- say 19KB (to 32-75 KB depending on your normal.dot size). If you save and it becomes 104 Kb and then 700 KB and then 1.2 MB -- you have a problem somewhere. If you add a graphic of say 100 KB -- the new file size should be 19KB plus 100 KB (plus a few more KBs), say between 119 KB to 125 KB. However, if it is 200 or 400 KB -- you know Word has saved some unwanted information. You can then try to solve this problem.
"f) Other reasons and causes. (Not truly a bloat!)
"If you have hidden text, track changes, linking and other information, an abnormally large normal.dot, or several such things, your file size will definitely be more than the sum of its known parts. However, I would not regard this as a bloat -- as your maths will indicate that the sum of the parts add up to the whole (and a bit more for packaging and the unknown parts!)."
Earlier this year I asked members of TECHWR-L and WINHLP-L for a plain English explanation of use cases and user scenarios, which can be valuable tools for technical writers and editors. Deborah Ray has posted my summary of the results of this discussion on the Techwhirl website. (Note 2002: item no longer there.)
During a discussion on COPYEDITING-L about the use of "i.e." and "e.g.", several people suggested replacing "i.e." with "that is" and replacing "e.g." with "for example", but wondering about "for instance" and "viz." Here's what I said:
"I've found that, quite often, "i.e." needs no replacement -- I just cut it out. I often see it used inside parentheses, where it's usually not needed; the sentence makes just as much sense without the clutter.
"Doesn't "for instance" mean the same as "for example"?
"As for "viz.", I'd probably just cut that out too, since it often turns up as an introduction to a list. If some word or phrase were needed, I'd probably choose "that is" -- unless "viz." is used incorrectly and should be "for example" or "such as". BTW, I had to look up what "viz." meant, as it's not a term that I see very often."
(I know it's quite common in some types of document, such as legal documents, but I don't edit them.)
I'm looking for people to contribute some articles, or tips, or short notes about almost anything related to editing, to this newsletter. If you have something relevant to share, please send it to me! I'm sure the readers would appreciate some contributions about different working styles, materials and clients.
Electronic editing: Editing in the computer age
by Jean Hollis Weber
Published by WeberWoman's Wrevenge
A quick start guide for editing students, experienced editors making the switch from paper to online, and anyone who needs to write or edit electronically.
Available in both downloadable electronic (PDF) and printed forms. For details
on ordering a copy, see
or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a product or service of interest to editors, I'll be happy to consider including a short advertisement, for a modest fee. Contact me for details.
© Copyright 2000, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
You may forward this newsletter (in whole or in part) to friends and colleagues, as long as you retain this copyright and subscription information, and do not charge any fee.
This newsletter is no longer being published.
I do not sell, rent, or give my mailing list to anyone.