Issue 5, 22 April 1999
In this issue...
Feature article: Editing using Microsoft Word (Parts
1, 2, 3)
Tip of the week: Print files to edit for consistency
Resource of the week: Internet citation style guides
Cheap ways to learn expensive tools
International telephone numbers
Archiving original files
In future issues
(My apologies to those of you who don't have to use Microsoft Word at least part of the time. In future issues I will be looking at similar techniques using other programs. This article refers to Word 97, but Word 6 and 7/95 have similar functions.)
Part 1: Setting up Word to make editing easier
First, make sure you have Service Release 2 (SR-2) for Microsoft Office. From the Help menu, click About Microsoft Word. If the first line in the pop-up window does not say Microsoft® Word 97 SR-2, you need to upgrade.
If you use Word a lot, you'll want to take the time to set up the interface to suit your work and your personal preferences. But even if you use Word only occasionally, you can make a few quick changes to make your work much easier. Here are the things I always change when I install Word on a new machine:
- Turn off fast save; turn on backup copies
- Display paragraph marks, tabs, text boundaries and other items
- Set up editing and printing options
- Set up the spelling and grammar options
- Ensure your user information is correct
- Add a toolbar button for an easier-to-use Style list
You can change many other Word features to suit your preferences and working habits, but I'm only mentioning the very basics needed to get to work editing. If you have time, look through the other pages in the Options dialog. Also, click AutoCorrect on the Tools menu and set up the AutoCorrect and AutoFormat options to suit your preferences.
A. To turn off fast save and turn on backup copies
Why turn off Fast Save? Two main reasons: file size can increase dramatically, because deletions remain in the file (though hidden from your view) until the file is saved normally, and - more importantly - documents can get scrambled in the middle of a Fast Save. You don't need it (this feature dates from the days of slow disk access speeds), so why take a chance?
To turn off Fast Save, click Options on the Tools menu, choose the Save tab, then deselect Allow fast saves.
While you're on the Save page, I recommend you select Always create backup copy unless you are very short of hard disk space.
B. To display paragraph marks, tabs, text boundaries and other items
Editing (and writing, for that matter) is much better done when you can see as much as possible of what's going on in Word. You need to know whether the writer has included unnecessary blank paragraphs or tabs, or made the tables or graphics too wide so they intrude into the margins of the page, so you can fix these problems. From the Tools menu, click Options, choose the View tab, then select Text boundaries (in the Show group), Tab characters and Paragraph marks (both in the Nonprinting characters group).
You'll probably also want to select Drawings and ScreenTips in the Show group. During part of your editing, you may want to select Picture placeholders, to speed up page loading (graphics will be represented by a blank box the size of the graphic).
C. To set up editing and printing options
While you're in the Options dialog, choose the Edit tab and choose the editing options that suit the way you work. One that I hate is When selecting, automatically select entire word, but you may find that feature very helpful. I like Typing replaces selection, but many people hate it.
On the Print tab, be sure Update fields and Update links (in the Printing options group), and Drawing Objects (in the Include with document group) are selected. On the General tab, select Update automatic links at open.
D. To set up the spelling and grammar options to suit your preferences
To set the spelling and grammar checking options to what you want:
- From the Tools menu, click Options.
- On the Spelling & Grammar tab, choose settings that are useful for you.
In the Spelling section:
- I always turn off Check spelling as you type (even when writing) and Suggest from main dictionary only (because I normally include custom dictionaries).
- If you use a custom dictionary that include words in all uppercase and words with numbers (for example, AS/400), you would probably want to uncheck Ignore words in UPPERCASE and Ignore words with numbers.
- I find Ignore Internet and file addresses useful, because so many of these are not used frequently enough to bother adding to a dictionary.
- Here you can also check what custom dictionaries are active for this document, and add or remove dictionaries by clicking the Dictionaries button.
In the Grammar section:
- I deselect Check grammar as you type (even when writing).
- I select Check grammar with spelling.
- I select Technical writing style (unless I'm working with some other type of document), and click the Settings button to go to the Grammar Settings dialog.
On the Grammar Settings dialog, you can choose some useful settings and turn off any that annoy you. The items I find most useful are:
- Passive sentences. After the program finds them for me, I can decide whether to change them to active constructions or leave them passive.
- Comma before last list item. Because the standard in US English is to include the comma, and the standard in Australian English is not to include the comma, I let the software find all the constructions that might be wrong in a particular document.
- Punctuation with quotes. Again, the standard in US English is different from that in Australian English.
I find most of the "Style" choices (visible when you scroll down in the options list) irritating, so I normally turn them off. However, if you find any of them useful, leave them checked.
You can always change the options for a specific document by pressing F7, then clicking the Options button on the Spelling and Grammar dialog.
E. To ensure your user information is correct
Because Word 97's revision features mark your changes and comments with the name or initials stored in User Information, you'll want to ensure that your name and initials appear there. To do this, click Options on the Tools menu and choose the User Information tab. If anything on this page is incorrect, delete it and type the correct information.
F. To add a toolbar button for an easier-to-use Style list
The style list provided with Word 97 shows what the fonts look like and gives some information about the styles. This list can be helpful, but if the writer has created custom styles, they don't appear in alphabetical order along with the supplied styles. Finding what you want can be frustrating. Users of earlier versions of Word will remember a different type of Style list and may want to have it back.
Fortunately, you can add the old Style list to the menu bar (through you can't delete the new one, even if you want to).
- From the Tools menu, click Customize.
- On the Customize dialog, choose the Commands tab.
- Make sure Save in: shows normal.dot. In the Categories list, click Format. In the Commands box, find the Style... item (the one with an icon containing two letter A's to its left, not the Style: entry with a drop-down list box to its right).
- Drag the Style... item to the right of the Style drop-down list on the Formatting Toolbar and release the mouse button. The double-A icon appears on the toolbar.
- Click Close to close the Customize dialog.
Part 2: Marking and Tracking Changes
Word uses revision marks to show where you want text, graphics, or formatting to be added, deleted, changed, or moved. Later, the author can review and accept or reject each change.
You can use Word's review feature to edit a document that has not been prepared for review, but you may want to ask the writer to do the preparation step before sending you the file.
A. To prepare a document for editing
- Open the document.
- Check whether the document contains multiple versions by clicking Versions
on the File menu.
If multiple versions exist, save the current version as a separate document with a different name, and use this copy as the review copy.
- From the Tools menu, click Protect Document.
- Select what you want the reviewers to be able to do.
- To let reviewers change the document and insert comments, and to track all changes with revision marks, select Tracked Changes.
- To let reviewers insert only comments and not change the contents of the document, select Comments.
- To let only authorized reviewers add changes and comments, type a password. Make sure you keep a record of the password!
B. To edit (review) the document
- To display the Reviewing toolbar, open the View menu, click Toolbars,
then click Reviewing.
If the document has been prepared for editing, the Track Changes button will be "on" and you will not be able to turn it off.
- If the document has not been prepared for editing, be sure the Track Changes feature is turned on before you start editing.
- To turn on Track Changes, click the Track Changes button on the Reviewing toolbar.
- If the Reviewing toolbar is not displayed, open the Tools menu, click Track Changes, then click Highlight Changes. Select the Track changes while editing checkbox.
- If you want to see your changes (not just the results of your changes) on screen, open the Tools menu, click Track Changes, then Highlight Changes. Be sure the Highlight changes on screen checkbox is selected.
- Remember that displaying changes (insertions and deletions) on screen will often change the pagination of the document, so don't regenerate the index or table of contents, or update any other fields that show page numbers, until you go back into the Highlight Changes dialog and deselect Highlight changes on screen. (And if you're going to print the document, be sure Highlight changes in printed document is not selected, unless you want all the inserts and deletions to appear.)
Part 3: Inserting comments and questions
When you insert a comment, Word numbers it and records it in a separate comment pane. You can view comments in ScreenTips or in the comment pane. You can also modify the comments you or others have made.
To insert a comment:
- Select the text you want to comment on, or place the cursor on the word.
- Click the Insert Comment button on the Reviewing toolbar. Your initials and a sequence number appear in the file, and the comments pane opens at the bottom of the screen.
- Type your comment, then click the Close button to close the comments pane.
To edit a comment, click the Edit Comment button to display the comments pane.
To view a comment, you can either:
- Move the pointer over text shaded with light yellow. Word displays the
comment and the name of the reviewer making the comment in a ScreenTip above
If comments don't appear, click Options on the Tools menu, click the View tab, and then select the ScreenTips check box.
- Click the Edit Comment button (on the Reviewing toolbar) to display the comments pane.
I do most of my editing by making changes to the files, but often I print them out so I can more easily decide what changes need to be made.
I just finished editing a set of 42 files that are destined to be help for a browser-based application. Because each file was short (less than a printed page), I started by editing them onscreen. Individually they weren't badly written. However, after about a dozen files, I realised there was a significant lack of consistency between them.
The most efficient way for me to edit for consistency was to print the files, spread them out all over a large table, and compare them. I quickly spotted and marked the places that needed fixing, and selected the words and phrases to use (thus compiling my style sheet). My marks consisted mainly of squiggles and cryptic annotations; because I would be typing in the changes, my marks didn't have to make sense to anyone else.
Then I sat down at the computer and edited the files, using my notes as a guide. It went quickly, and I think I managed to catch all the inconsistencies that way. If I'd tried to compare all those files onscreen, I would have had to make far more copious notes and I'm sure I would have missed quite a few things.
A difficult question for many writers and editors these days is how to cite resources from the Internet.
http://bailiwick.lib.uiowa.edu/journalism/cite.html is the URL for a "Guide to Citation Style Guides" -- an annotated collection of links to the best and most up-to-date citation guides that show how to properly cite resources from the Internet. It includes style guides for APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, BSE, styles and a description of how to cite references from Lexis/Nexis.
In issue 2, I suggested putting phone numbers in the international style, including the country code, and suggested a couple variations on the notation. Since then I've seen several uses of this style: +61 (7) 2928-0450. I quite like this; it seems less ambiguous than some variations, and easier to sort out which part of the number is which.
Frazer Wright firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
"Whenever I get a file from a client via Email, the very first thing I do is to make an exact duplicate of the original and store it on a floppy, which I then set back to read/only. Then there can be no dispute later about editing changes to the original."
An excellent suggestion, if the files will fit on a floppy. Even zipped, many of the files I get are too big for a floppy.
I plan to develop many of the points in earlier newsletters in more detail and also discuss such things as:
- Style guides: rules or guidelines?
- The editor's role in the technical writing team
- Negotiating with writers and others
- The editor as usability tester
- Are grammar checkers and "readability indexes" useful?
- And much more
Do you have a topic you'd like to see covered? Do you have an article to contribute? Let me know! Please don't send any attachments or long items without checking with me first.
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 1999, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
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