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Monday, 28 March 2016

What's different about on-screen editing?

Download our free PTC guide to On-screen Editing to find out

AnneWaddingham2Copy-editors have been working on-screen since the early 1990s – some brave pioneers even earlier – and, as Jane Buekett remarked in her blog post ‘How long before all editing will be done on screen?’, most editing is done on-screen these days.

My work in those days was done in WordPerfect (remember that?) but Microsoft quickly elbowed out the competition with their word processor MS Word. Over twenty years later, most of us are still using Word, but it has evolved through many versions since then.

Remarkably, however, many of the key features that make Word so useful as an editing tool have been, and still are, present through all these iterations. Of course they have changed and look quite different now – more bells and whistles have been added, and features have been moved around, but what has always made Word so valuable for editors remains: templates, styles, macros, shortcut keys, global search and replace, Track Changes and many other tools.

The clear benefit for editing is the degree to which the software can be tailored to a particular project, series, author or publisher. This can make life so much easier, improving accuracy and productivity. However, you need to know why and how to customise Word to suit your needs. This is where even experienced editors can struggle – most people barely scratch the surface when it comes to unlocking Word’s full potential. This is a pity, because a little training can make such a difference.

In addition, copy-editors, especially freelance ones who are not closely involved in the digital workflow, may not realise the significance of their contribution in streamlining the production process, with regard to document structure, upon which accurate coding depends.

We have published a free guide to on-screen editing, which gives you lots of tips for preparing for an on-screen copy-edit, as well as what you should know to save time and improve your work and its value.