by C.K. MacLeod
Revised and updated on Sept 12, 2015. Originally posted at Beyond Paper Editing.
Authors can use a variety of tools for the writing and publishing process. In Idea to Ebook: How to Write a Quality Book Fast, I describe over 30 tools that authors can use, and some of them can even make the writing and publishing process more efficient.
Be sure to choose the best tool for the job, though. Take editing, for example. Microsoft Word is the professional editor’s tool of choice because it helps editors do their work better and faster.
Word’s Built-in Functions
Word has some pretty powerful built-in functions that can help editors hunt down errors efficiently:
- Advanced Find and Replace
- Dictionary and Spell Check
- Re-order list function (video)
- Table-to-text and text-to-table function
- Track Changes and Comments functions
- Split screen or Arrange All function for comparing documents
- Show/Hide feature for spotting formatting problems
- VBA for creating, storing, and running macros
- Wildcard function
Learning to use any of Word’s built-in functions can save an editor loads of time.
Add-ins and Macros
Word also works well with powerful add-ins and macros–tiny software programs that automate a variety of specific editing tasks. But it’s not just about automation; its about accuracy, too. These tools can help editors catch things they’d otherwise miss.
Here is a sample of editing tools and macros that have been designed to be used with Word:
- CrossEyes: A “reveal codes” tool that helps you see the formatting that lurks in a document’s background. This is particularly helpful for ebook formatting (Word 2010 and earlier; PC only).
- FileCleaner: For quick document clean-up
- Computer Tools for Writers and Editors (free): A variety of macros designed to handle all sorts of editing challenges. FRedit is one worth trying.
- PerfectIt: A consistency checker
- Reference Checker: Checks in-text citations against references (for specific style guides)
Writers can use Word’s built-in functions, macros, and add-ins, too. There’s a learning curve involved with each tool, but if you have the time and interest to learn something new, these tools can help you save on editing costs later.
Note: if you ask your editor to edit your manuscript in software that doesn’t have or allow for the use of these tools, your editor will take longer to complete the job. Keep that in mind if you’re paying your editor by the hour!
Editors use Word because it helps them to do their best job for you, the author. I suspect that editors will continue to use Word until other tools can rival Word’s capabilities.
Note: Many of the macros listed in this post are designed for Word for PC and are not available for Mac users. Mac users can write their own macros, though, and run Parallels Desktop so that they can make use of commercially available macros.
Image by leigh49137