Tech Talk: Editing Technology

Nobody’s perfect, but smart use of technology can get us pretty close. There are a number of resources out there that can make your editing life easier and reduce your error rate.

Paid Products

There are three main paid software packages specifically for editors. (I’m ignoring general-use software like Grammarly and others.)

Editor’s ToolKit Plus

Owned by Jack Lyon, The Editorium’s (http://www.editorium.com/) primary product is the Editor’s ToolKit Plus (http://www.editorium.com/ETKPlus2018.htm). Many individual functions appear to be available separately as well. The 2018 edition of this software includes Editor’s ToolKit, FileCleaner, NoteStripper, ListFixer, MegaReplacer, Puller, WordCounter, QuarkConverter, and InDesignConverter.

Some of the things it can do when you’re working in Microsoft Word: show and stet revisions, transpose words and characters quickly, and change case.

EditTools

Published by wordsnSync (http://www.wordsnsync.com; Rich Adin), EditTools (http://www.wordsnsync.com/edittools.php) includes functions like multifile find, reference checking and formatting, and style management. It is highly customizable and has a Project Switch function to let you save and restore project-specific configuration quickly.

PerfectIt

Intelligent Editing’s add-in PerfectIt (https://intelligentediting.com/) is billed as “proofreading software.” It lets you customize a style sheet of preferred spellings and conventions and then checks your document for consistency. Now available for Windows and Mac.

 

The three above tools are largely complementary, with some overlap of function. EditTools seems to focus more on manuscript preparation, Editor’s Toolkit focuses more on the editing process itself and making it more efficient, and PerfectIt is something you’d run at the end (and maybe the beginning, too) of an editing pass to find consistency issues.

Free Resources

There are also free resources available. The most full-featured set of macros I know of is Paul Beverley’s (http://www.archivepub.co.uk/macros.html). They cover a wide array of different functions. My personal favourite is ProperNounAlyze, which has caught many an easy-to-miss spelling discrepancy. See his book for the full list. He also provides training videos.

And the Copyediting-L webpage also links to other free macro resources (http://www.copyediting-l.info/#tabs-3).

“No Tech”

But never forget the “no-tech” solutions. The most important thing an editor can do, more important than any software, is having a complete and well-maintained style sheet for each project and using checklists. A simple Google search will return many different checklists you can work with. What’s important is that you have checklists that cover the sort of work you do and that include the elements you find yourself forgetting sometimes. Checklists are an excellent way to ensure each project is handled consistently, and it will save you more than once from an embarrassing error or omission.

 

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in any of the tools listed, nor have I been asked or induced to include anything. These are my personal opinions based on my own research and knowledge.

 

Is there special software that you use? Are there specific checklists or macros that have helped you? If so, please share in the comments!

 

Aaron Dalton (photo by Rachel Lambert)

Aaron works as an editor for the Alberta Energy Regulator in Calgary, Alberta. He's also an avid baker and gamer.

Aaron est réviseur pour le Alberta Energy Regulator à Calgary, en Alberta. Il est aussi un boulanger et un joueur passionné.

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4 Replies to “Tech Talk: Editing Technology”

  • I use the Hemingway Editor, which helps assess readability and highlights sentences and phrases that might benefit from further clarification. The score doesn’t agree with the readability scores in Microsoft Word, but the difference is fairly consistent, so I use HE while editing and then double-check with Word’s readability counts. I also search for the word pubic in government documents. Spelling public without the L is apparently very easy to do, and of course, Word doesn’t see it as a misspelling because both words are in the dictionary. For the same reason, I also search for statue. Governments love to refer to laws as statutes, and Word never notices when writers miss that third T. Would love to know how to create a macro in Word to search for these things in one go.

  • Have you ever tried Antidote? It was developed in the 1990s for French, but an English counterpart was released in 2015.

    Like PerfectIt, it checks for consistency, allows customization of typography, and choice between Canadian, American or British English (including Oxford). However, in addition to checking what a corrector normally checks (spelling, grammar, punctuation, typography), Antidote’s corrector also analyzes numerous aspects of text (pragmatics, semantics, etc.). It also includes a style component that points out repetitions, various constructions (like the use of the passive voice, or long sentences), and vocabulary (register, regionalisms, commonplace verbs, etc.). As a fully integrated language suite, Antidote includes multiple dictionaries (combinations, synonyms, definitions, and more), as well as linguistic guides that cover topics such as style, business writing, grammar, and syntax, to name a few.

    I have been using Antidote in French since the early days, and although it is quite user-friendly, I even teach workshops about it in both languages at the University of Ottawa Centre for Continuing Education. Yet, to this day, I continue to find new ways of using it. As you can tell, I am quite enthusiastic about it. In fact, I cannot imagine editing without Antidote, but I would be interested in knowing what others think about it.

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