Monthly Archives: October 2015

Who would contact your clients if you got hit by a bus?

By Luke Finley and Laura Ripper
This is a fully collaborative effort, but Laura did more of the research and organisation and Luke more of the writing up, so when ‘I’ is used it refers to Luke. Anything in quotes was contributed by others in one of the many discussions we started on this subject.

Police tape - do not crossWe’re all going to die!

That may not come as a surprise to many of us, but it’s not something we like to dwell on. That’s probably why the question in the title jumped off the page when I read the workshop handouts from this year’s SfEP/Society of Indexers joint conference.1 I’m usually fairly organised, but here was a major piece of advance preparation that I’d never even considered.

Discussions online (including on the SfEP forum, which members can read at https://forums.sfep.org.uk/read.php?2,81561) led to an ever-growing list of considerations that many of us had avoided facing up to, but among the slightly sheepish admissions were a few impressive people with clear and practical plans in place.

Further research revealed a wide range of advice and online resources for putting together what one contributor dubbed DEATHnotes. We can’t hope to cover every aspect of this can of worms here, so we’ve gone for DEATHnotes for Dummies: a summary of the most pertinent questions and practical steps, with some pointers to further information and advice.

The ‘why’

If you haven’t made these kinds of plans yet, you might wonder how necessary it is. For most of us, our priority is how we want our grieving loved ones to deal with our mortal remains and share out our stuff. But if we don’t leave instructions about business matters, it’ll probably be the same grieving loved ones who have to deal with the fallout. Major tasks like informing a bank or mortgage provider may be on their radar already. But would they know, or think to ask about, who provides your web hosting or exactly which company you were actually working for when you said ‘I’m doing a copy-edit for Taylor & Francis’?

Then there’s the question of professionalism. Most of us work alone; there’s no colleague, line manager or admin support to pick up our unfinished tasks. Even if you’re so pragmatic and unsentimental that you’re not concerned about your own reputation after your demise, you could argue that the reputation of the wider profession (and the SfEP) is well served if it’s the norm to have contingency plans in place.

The ‘what’

Nominating a responsible person

Even if you’ve made plans, is a family member the best option? Leaving them with this task at a difficult time ‘might not be the kindest thing to do’. And ‘what happens if you’re in an accident together?’ Is your next of kin IT-literate? Do they understand your business processes in detail? As one person pointed out, ‘a fellow editor would be in a better position to help [my clients] by recommending someone to finish the work or pointing them towards the SfEP Directory’.

A trusted friend or colleague may be a fairer, more practical option. Many of us have working relationships with other editors, often working on similar types of material, who may be ideally placed to take over work or find someone else who can. If you don’t have a trusted friend or colleague, or don’t want to burden them, the site MyLawyer (https://www.mylawyer.co.uk/) suggests using an accountant. If you use one already, they’re likely to be familiar with your business.

The key thing is to identify someone. If you don’t, it may be left to the legal folk to figure out. They’ll do it slowly (no help to your current clients) and expensively.

Plan what information you need to pass on

As a minimum, this is likely to include:

  • Client contact details. Is it clear who your contact is within a firm?
  • Current and forthcoming projects. Is your record of these linked to contact details? Are regular clients included?
  • Passwords. It doesn’t matter how organised your records are if no one can get at them. Do you have a separate record of passwords and usernames for your PC, website, cloud storage, directories, email accounts, social media accounts and password-protected documents?
  • Advertising. Your SfEP Directory entry, entries in other directories, business Facebook page and other social media profiles could continue to bring new work in if they’re not taken down. Some sites have processes you can set up in advance: for example, see Facebook’s Legacy Contact options (under Security Settings) and Gmail’s Inactive Account Manager.
  • Detailed preferences. For example, what do you want to happen to your online presence? For many of us these days a large part of our lives is lived online. Simply having it all deleted might suit some people, but most people will have slightly more complex wishes than this.
  • Financial information. This includes outstanding invoices, payments received for work not yet done, and possibly money owed. A comprehensive spreadsheet storing this information alongside contact details and current projects is worth the effort. (There are some good templates online which you could adapt, such as Louise Harnby’s: http://www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/blog-the-proofreaders-parlour/editorial-annual-accounts-template-excel.)
  • In what order? For example, you may not want clients to find out by reading a message on your website before they’ve been told personally.

Keeping it up to date

MyLawyer suggests reviewing the information you’ve prepared regularly, but this sounds like one of those chores that always gets pushed to the bottom of the list. The more you can tie things in with the job-monitoring or invoicing systems you use already, the better.

The ‘how’

As well as deciding what you want done, you need to consider how to make sure it’ll all happen smoothly.fire safe

Storing and retrieving the information

Store your DEATHnotes separately from any instructions for retrieving them, and keep both somewhere secure. You don’t want a notice pinned to your office door with ‘Burglars – start here!’ splashed across it. But someone needs to know where it is, otherwise it could be months before they crack your filing system or locate the papers you carefully hid behind a disused filing cabinet in a room marked ‘Beware of the Leopard’ (to misquote Douglas Adams).

Suggestions for storing retrieval instructions included:

  • regularly reprinting or emailing them to someone else
  • keeping them on a non-networked, non-password-protected computer that others can access
  • using an old-fashioned notebook
  • simply telling the responsible person where to look.

Approaches to storing the detailed information ranged from comprehensive spreadsheets or mind maps, to a few key pieces of information on a whiteboard or stuck to the fridge. One thoroughly prepared contributor has ‘a fire safe with all my important documents in it’, along with ICE [in case of emergency] documents containing instructions covering personal and business matters.

MyLawyer recommends writing a ‘letter of wishes’ with detailed requests about winding up your affairs. You can update this easily and cheaply, without needing to involve a solicitor – but make sure your will mentions the letter so people know about it.

Information security

There are two levels to this. First, you need to make sure the information survives after you’ve gone. The fire safe suggestion is helpful if it’s a house fire rather than a collision with public transport that carries you off. If your information is stored electronically, ‘making use of the cloud’ will get round the risk of your laptop going under the wheels with you.

Second, you need to think about the risk of information falling into the wrong hands, even while you’re still alive. One contributor suggested using ‘an encrypted storage facility’. Password-management programs (see http://lifehacker.com/5529133/five-best-password-managers for some suggestions) automatically generate passwords more secure than anything you can come up with, and you only need to keep track of one master password. The security implications of writing this one password down anywhere that’s accessible to others are worth bearing in mind, though.

There’s always a balance to be struck between ease of access and security of information. Only you can decide what you’re comfortable with here, but some of the links below may help.

Testing it out

A trial run of procedures with your responsible person, making sure they understand and can navigate your filing systems, is worthwhile. (For added realism, you could put ‘Police line – do not cross’ tape across your office doorway while you carry it out.)


In short

  • Keep clear records. They have to work for you in the present, but if they’re too idiosyncratic they won’t help others in the future.
  • Choose the right person for the job. Make sure they know what they’ve agreed to.
  • Write a letter of wishes setting out how your instructions should be acted on. Refer to it in your will.
  • Review the detailed information and the letter of wishes periodically or whenever your circumstances change.
  • Put the time in now. We all hope our disaster plans will never be needed, and many won’t, but if you can tie in this advance planning with effective business systems, you might save yourself time and effort in this life, too.

What next?

There were many aspects of this topic on which people wanted more information or support. Some of these point to a possible future role for SfEP (and comparable professional organisations). Any of these might make a good subject for future blogs, for starters:

  • a template document or process for members to use
  • a sample letter of wishes
  • a way of storing ICE contacts for member
  • a toolkit or practical guide
  • more advice on emergency planning for a variety of worst-case scenarios, for sole traders and for limited companies
  • more advice on managing your ‘digital footprint’
  • what’s the client’s perspective on all this?
  • what happens if it’s the client who’s hit by a bus?

It’s clear that there is no one best way to approach this. We hope this overview acts as a catalyst and starting point, and that the links below help you get stuck into the detail. Ultimately, it’s a matter of deciding what fits best with your way of working, the nature of your business and clients, and whoever will be dealing with them after you’ve had your date with the double-decker.

Useful links on succession planning

Notes

1 The question was posed by SI member Jane Read during her session on ‘Having a good relationship with your clients’.

Laura RipperLaura Ripper (www.lauraripperproofreading.com) began working as an editor in 2004, and has been freelance since 2012. She specialises in plain English and non-native English and is a Professional Member of the SfEP.

 

 

Luke FinleyLuke Finley (www.lukefinley-editorial.co.uk) set up Luke Finley Editorial in 2013. He works for a wide range of clients but specialises in social policy. He is a Professional Member of the SfEP.

 

 

Proofread by SfEP Entry-Level Member Susan Walton.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Social media round-up – September 2015

SfEP logoIn case you missed them, here are ten of the most popular links shared across the SfEP’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) in September.

 

  1. Seven emotions that English doesn’t have a word for: blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/09/7-emotions-that-english-doesnt-have-a-word-for/
  2. If the conference inspired you to find out about Corpus Linguistics, this free course could be for you: futurelearn.com/courses/corpus-linguistics
  3. An interesting article on the ampersand’s history: grammarist.com/usage/ampersand/
  4. A complete, illustrated guide to type terms: designschool.canva.com/blog/typography-terms/
  5. ‘Quit jargogling me, you beef-witted jollux’ [WARNING – contains cute cat pics!]: encurious.com/post/129149419878/17-obsolete-words-which-never-should-have-gone-out
  6. Some contractions to throw around, willy-nilly: blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/08/6-words-you-didnt-know-were-contractions/
  7. The Scottish have the most words for snow!: theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/23/scots-thesaurus-reveals-421-words-for-snow
  8. Never a calm subject, punctuation: theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/sep/30/punctuation-commas-apostrophes-wordsworth
  9. Excellent advice on overcoming limitations to your success as a freelancer: americaneditor.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/on-the-basics-recognizing-self-imposed-limits-to-your-editing-business/
  10. Bad news, fellow Slytherins, we’ve been pronouncing the Dark Lord’s name wrong. It’s not Vol-deh-mort, with a ‘t’ at the end. It’s Vol-deh-mor: http://ow.ly/TLyBq

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Taking editorial tests for clients

By Liz Jones

editing testsSometimes a prospective client will ask you to complete a test, either in competition with other editors for one ongoing editorial position, or for admission to their pool of regular freelance editors. Opinion is divided among editors about the usefulness and ethics of these tests. Should we be required to take them? Is it something of an insult if we can otherwise demonstrate that we have the necessary experience and skills? And is it a waste of our valuable time … or is there perhaps more to it than that?

Although I am rarely required to take tests for clients (most of my work is repeat business or comes via recommendations), I am sometimes asked to complete one if the client is completely unknown to me, or if the work requires particular skills that can only be seen in action.

For instance, I recently completed a test for a client I had approached about an ongoing copy-editing position. It turned out to be quite a palaver – the test itself was absolutely reasonable (in fact I thought it was a very good test), but to be able to complete it I had to install the latest version of InDesign (until that point I was deluded enough to believe that I had the latest version). This, it turned out, also entailed updating my entire operating system. I also needed to buy the Kindle edition of a well-known style guide, and do my best to absorb the relevant parts of it in the time available. Finally, I had to learn a few new ways of using my freshly updated software in order to complete the test.

Was it worth it? Well, I hope it secures me the work, but even if it doesn’t on this occasion, I don’t begrudge the time I spent. Here’s why.

Benefits of taking tests

As I hope I have just demonstrated, taking a test for a client can be a very useful form of CPD. I certainly learnt things, many of them about software that I have been using regularly for the last ten years, and I have a shiny new operating system. It was interesting to work on a particular type of material, some aspects of which were a departure for me. I also learnt aspects of a style guide that is new to me – though it reminded me very much of one that I already knew, which helped. Above all, the thought of someone looking critically at each and every editorial decision I made focused my mind on trying to get it just right. In an ideal world I would approach every job with this level of intensity.

Aside from the CPD aspect, editorial tests can be a great way in for new freelance editors. If people ask me about the best way to find work when starting out, I often recommend that they seek out clients who require them to do tests. If you get as far as taking the test, and pass it, this can negate the need to provide a long list of experience, which can obviously be a barrier for those new to the profession.

When to be wary

Personally, I wouldn’t be happy to take a test for every prospective client. I would rather know as far as possible that I definitely want to work for the client before putting in the time required to do a test properly. There’s also a limit to how long I am prepared to spend on a test. A length of a thousand or so words is OK. Ten thousand words is too long, in my opinion. I don’t think a reasonable client would ask me to take a test that took up more than an hour of my time.

Finally, I would want to be sure that the test is a genuine test. This has not happened to me (probably because of the nature of my client base), but I am aware that some editors have been sent a section of a longer work as a test … only to discover that others they know have been sent different sections. One suspects that some unethical authors might think it possible to get an entire work edited for free in this way.

How to approach a test

Not everyone likes tests, but there are ways to make them less painful. Take your time to read the instructions provided. It’s clear that if you ignore these, you won’t impress, but more than that – the instructions can provide valuable clues about what the client wants. Are there specific points of style mentioned? Do they want you to provide an idea of the time the test took to complete? Do they want you to quote for the work?

It helps to become as familiar as you can in a short space of time with the existing output of the client. Do they have similar material published on the web? If they do, this is incredibly useful in terms of understanding the tone to aim for when editing; it can also solve a few style riddles.

Finally, try to forget you are doing a test. Easier said than done, I know. But once you get into the rhythm of the work, try to enjoy it and just do the best job you can – as if you were editing for your favourite client, on a topic you find fascinating, at a fabulous hourly rate, on a really good day. You probably won’t achieve this state of being until the end of the extract (especially if it’s only a thousand words long).

For this reason, and others, do check over your work again at the end. And again. I don’t always read things multiple times when I edit in real life – it depends on the parameters of the job – but for a test, I certainly will. This is your one chance; try not to blow it. You’ll probably find that the first half of the test piece is not as good as the second, and can be tightened up no end with another pass.

What to take away?

Well, of course, you hope you get the gig. But whether you do or not, I hope I have shown that a test can be a positive and useful experience in various other ways, too.

Liz JonesLiz Jones (www.ljed.co.uk) has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and has been freelance since 2008. She specialises in trade non-fiction and educational publishing, and is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP.

 

 

Proofread by SfEP Intermediate Member Sandra Rawlin.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Top tips for healthy home working

By Lisa Robertson

This time last year, I had a desk-based job in a busy, open-plan office. Phones were ringing, people were chatting, and there was always somebody getting up to make a cuppa. I’d march up and down the office to go to meetings or to look for someone on the top floor of the next building. In fact, it’s amazing I actually got any real work done.

Since making a career change and going solo, I’ve been particularly obsessive about monitoring my working time. Of course, this is really important for paid projects. But I also keep track of time spent on reading, forums, training, marketing, admin, etc. If I get side-tracked or go and put the kettle on, the timer stops. I know that the time I record is now all ‘real work’, as opposed to the distraction-filled days I had in my previous working life.

But is this really a good thing? I only work a couple of days a week at the moment, so I try to cram a lot into that time. I find that I am now sometimes sitting at my desk for longer periods of time than I should be. My eyes struggle to adjust to the outside world when they stop focusing on the computer screen. My legs need a good oiling before I can get up again. So, although more of my time could now be counted as productive, that’s not necessarily the whole story. Taking those little walks at lunchtime or allowing myself to go and load the washing machine could be of benefit to my overall productivity as well as my health.

About a month ago, I worked some long hours on an intense project with a tight deadline. I knew I was doing myself damage, but it was only for a few days and I just had to get through it. I couldn’t take proper time out, so I decided to experiment with something: every time I got up to make a drink or to go to the loo, I jumped up and down 50 times to get the circulation going again. Needless to say, this was a ridiculous idea (especially if done on the way to the loo) but it got me thinking: I really need to factor in some distractions – particularly physical ones – as this no longer happens as naturally as it did in the open-plan office.

I put out a plea on an SfEP forum and there was a great response. Here is a summary of top tips from fellow SfEP members for healthy home working:Dog on rollerskates

  • Get a dog. This was overwhelmingly the most popular distraction people recommended on the forum. Dogs are friendly company, they take you on compulsory walks and (apparently) they can sit on your feet when you’re working in the winter. My cat is not quite so accommodating.
  • Work flexibly but be disciplined. Undoubtedly, one of the perks of self-employment is flexibility. But that flexibility needs control, so we must be disciplined about how we use it. If we are early risers and are able to get things done by lunchtime, great; but we must remember to take the afternoon off and not be tempted to log on again later. If we are tied into the school run at 3.30, we can spend a few quality hours with the children and maybe catch up later. It has to be each to their own, depending on workload, personal preferences and home circumstances, and we must each take the time to think about what works for us, ensuring we have sufficient downtime.
  • Get physical. Whether it’s a swim, a run, the gym or a walk with the dog, a physical break is the perfect contrast to all the hours we spend being sedentary. One member on the forum confessed to running up and down the stairs in her block of flats for a break, and now one of her neighbours has followed suit. Maybe my jumping up and down idea wasn’t totally ridiculous, after all.
  • Stay hydrated. This is one that I do abide by. Staying hydrated keeps me feeling alert and less lethargic. It also means I need to get up from my desk more frequently, either to make a drink or to go to the bathroom.
  • Look after your eyes. Timing and length of breaks away from computer screens is not set down in law, although it is certainly advised from a health and safety perspective. One SfEP member sets 90 minutes as a strict maximum; another uses an online tool (http://protectyourvision.org/), which badgers you every 20 minutes to take a break. The Health and Safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg36.pdf) advises to:
    • Stretch and change position.
    • Look into the distance from time to time, and blink often.
    • Change activity before you get tired, rather than to recover.
    • Take short, frequent breaks, rather than longer, infrequent ones.
  • Look after your back. Similarly, regular breaks will help you care for your back. The HSE (link above) also advises on desk setup, which will help with posture and alignment. Two forum respondents highly recommend the Alexander Technique (http://www.alexandertechnique.com/) to help ease the strains we put on our body by sitting down at a desk for long periods of time.

Maybe reading this has tempted you to head out to the gym or visit the local kennels. But if that’s not your thing, think about what is. Whether it’s baking, ironing, shopping, having a coffee with friends, or something else, make sure you look after yourself.

Thank you to everyone who contributed on the forum. The full thread can be viewed by SfEP members on the Off topic forum: https://forums.sfep.org.uk/read.php?13,81989

Lisa RobertsonLisa Robertson set up Editwrite in April 2015, after working for a local authority for over 14 years in various children’s services planning and commissioning roles. She offers a range of editorial and writing services, including document writing consultancy. Her specialist areas are children’s services, the public sector and charities. She is an Entry-Level Member of SfEP. www.editwrite.co.uk

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

A tribute to Judith Butcher

Judith ButcherIt is with great sadness that we report the passing on 6 October of our honorary president, Judith Butcher. Judith was an important influence in our professional world as a teacher, author and colleague, and she was a good friend and kind mentor to many members of the Society. We are fortunate that she has passed on her wisdom to us through her presence and her writings. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

Judith Butcher will be remembered for her life-long service to UK publishing. She has done more than anyone else to establish and maintain the high editorial standards that have earned the UK publishing industry worldwide respect. Her work has undoubtedly improved the quality of published works in the UK and around the world, benefiting all types of readers by enhancing their enjoyment and understanding of the printed word.

Judith is best known as the author of Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders, referred to throughout the English-speaking world as ‘the copy-editor’s bible’. But her book is only the most tangible product of the dedication to editorial excellence that characterised her long career. Her achievements can be grouped under three headings.

Manager and trainer

During her 20 years as chief subeditor (= copy-editor) for Cambridge University Press, Judith developed the emerging craft of copy-editing into a fully fledged discipline and established it as an essential stage in the publishing process. The unreliable and costly tradition of trusting the printer’s readers to pick up errors after typesetting was replaced by a methodical system of preparing manuscripts for typesetting and eliminating errors in advance. Judith set up and managed what CUP’s former chief executive Dr Jeremy Mynott has called ‘the best subediting department of any academic publishing house in the English-speaking world’. By personal example and using the growing file of notes that eventually became the Cambridge Handbook, she trained scores of copy­editors, many of whom subsequently carried her principles and standards to other publishing houses in the UK and overseas.

Author

Judith turned her training notes into a house manual for CUP’s copy-editors and eventually into the book published by CUP as Copy-editing. It was the first copy-editing manual in English and has remained the undisputed authority in its field for over 40 years. When she retired from employment Judith kept the book up to date, making extensive revisions to keep abreast of changes in publishing technology and procedures. However, the fundamental principles that she set out remain unchanged. The book set the standard for good editing practice and disseminated it throughout the UK, the English-speaking world and even beyond: it has been translated into several languages. Copy-editing enabled standards to be maintained during the structural changes of the 1970s and 1980s, as publishing houses shed staff and turned increasingly to freelance copy-editors. Copy-editing is now predominantly a freelance occupation, and the book has provided indispensable guidance to generations of freelances without access to in-house training.

Mentor

It was to support the growing number of freelances that the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders (now the Society for Editors and Proofreaders) was founded in 1988. Judith enthusiastically agreed to become its first honorary president, and in this voluntary capacity she gave the society’s officers invaluable support for many years. She attended almost every annual conference and local meeting of the society, participating fully in workshops and discussions. In particular, Judith continued to nurture new copy-editors and proofreaders, giving unstintingly of her advice and encouragement.

Judith’s personal modesty, tact and generosity informed her work in all these spheres. As a manager, she inspired as much affection as respect; as an author, her tone was friendly as well as erudite; and as president of the professional body, she underpinned its ethos of mutual support and cooperation.

 

From notes compiled by Naomi Laredo in 2004, with contributions from SfEP members and former colleagues of Judith (updated by Margaret Hunter 9 October 2015)

How to customise PerfectIt to check your house style

By Daniel Heuman

PerfectItBuilding customised style sheets in PerfectIt helps make sure that all documents you work on reflect your or your client’s preferences for spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation, italics, and other house style choices. There are two ways to build preferences into a PerfectIt style sheet. You can either:

  • Commission Intelligent Editing to prepare the style sheet for you. For government departments, NGOs, and Fortune 500 companies, this is the best way to develop the most comprehensive style sheet possible.
  • Prepare the style sheet yourself. For freelancers and small companies, this lets you put together your own style sheet that is customised to your needs without any additional cost.

To have a style sheet prepared for you, you can get a quote from Intelligent Editing. This article is for people who want to prepare their own style sheet. It guides you through ten short videos that, in less than one hour, will teach you how to prepare your style sheet.

Do I need to customise PerfectIt?

PerfectIt doesn’t need any kind of customisation. You can use it to check consistency without altering any settings. Just run it, click ‘Start’, and the interface guides you through the rest. Most people find that’s all they need, without any customisation. If you haven’t ever used PerfectIt, start with the free trial, which you can download here.

PerfectIt also comes with a number of built-in styles, including European Union, Australian Government, World Health Organization, and United Nations styles. If you’re using those (or if you just want to check UK, US, Canadian, or Australian spelling), you can use the built-in styles without any customisation. Just select the style that you want before you press ‘Start’. You only need to customise PerfectIt if you want it to check your specific house style.

Creating a new style

If you’ve decided that you do want to customise PerfectIt and are ready to learn more, the first thing to do is to add a new style. This video explains how:

You can have one style sheet for every style manual (or client) that you work with. So repeat those steps for every style sheet that you want to create.

Customising settings

When you’ve created a new style sheet, you can edit it in PerfectIt’s style sheet editor. This video looks at the ‘Settings’ tab and shows how to check your preferences for lists, compounds, and headings. For example, you can set PerfectIt to enforce punctuation at the end of a bulleted list or to control title case in headings:

The next video shows how to use the settings for numbers in sentences and Oxford (serial) commas. You can turn Oxford commas off or on, and you can choose whether numbers in sentences should be spelled out or presented in numerals. In addition, it shows how to set a number of style points such as thousand separators and non-breaking spaces in measurements and dates:

Search and replace

You can modify PerfectIt’s tests by adding particular words that PerfectIt should find. In addition, you can choose words or phrases that PerfectIt should suggest as fixes. To see this, go to the ‘Always Find’ tab in PerfectIt’s style sheet editor. Each test within that tab is a little different. This video shows how to add searches to the tests of hyphenation, dashes, accents, and phrases in capitals:

The next video looks at PerfectIt’s different tests of spelling as well as the test of phrases to consider:

The final video on the ‘Always Find’ tab covers the test of comments that are accidentally left in the text and the test of abbreviations that appear in two forms. Then there is a more advanced tip on adding exceptions:

Additional tests

PerfectIt’s style sheet editor has tabs for PerfectIt’s tests of italics, prefixes, and superscripts and subscripts. This video covers all three, and shows how, in addition to switching the settings, you can add additional words/phrases to each test:

If you’re not familiar with wildcard searches in Word, it’s worth reading up on those before watching the next video. Two great sources to look at are Jack Lyon’s Advanced Find and Replace for Microsoft Word (an especially good resource for beginners) and Graham Mayor’s article on Finding and Replacing Characters Using Wildcards (a useful reminder for users who are already familiar with the concepts of wildcard search).

For those who are comfortable with wildcards, this video shows how you can include them in a PerfectIt style sheet:

An even easier way

The videos above explain all of the features in PerfectIt’s style sheet editor. However, if you’re concerned about the time involved in entering all the preferences in your style manual, there is a way to complete the task gradually. And it’s really easy. This video shows how you can amend a style sheet as you work without ever opening up PerfectIt’s style sheet editor:

Sharing styles

The great thing about style sheets is that it only takes one person to prepare them. After that, you can share the style with anyone at your organisation. This video shows how to share your style:

Slow and steady…

If you have spare time to set aside to prepare a style sheet, that’s fantastic. But that’s a luxury that many people don’t have. So what we recommend is to start with an existing style and amend that (as shown in the first video above). Then go through and complete the preferences in the ‘Settings’ tab (the second and third videos). Then stop and just do a few minutes per day after that. Adding to styles incrementally as you work is easy (the ninth video). And if you add just two or three items to a style sheet with each document you check, then you’ll quickly have a style sheet that saves time and improves checking for everyone at your organisation. And it doesn’t cost a penny extra!

Daniel HeumanDaniel Heuman is the Founder and CEO of Intelligent Editing as well as the developer of PerfectIt.

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Specialist Q&A – science and natural history editing

Specialist Q&AOur editorial industry is made up of people carrying out a huge range of tasks across many different sectors. Although we are bound by common aims – to make text consistent, accurate and clear – our chosen areas of work can differ in fascinating ways.

Liz Drewitt is a freelance proofreader, copy-editor and writer. She has answered some questions on her main specialism: science and natural history editing.

  1. Briefly, what’s your work background?

I have a degree in zoology and a master’s in animal behaviour. After several years of volunteer conservation and survey work abroad, I worked for five years as a writer for a leading wildlife charity, writing and editing content for their website as well as marking and editing student projects and helping to run the charity’s social media channels.

  1. How long have you specialised in this particular kind of editorial work, and how did you get started?

I started my first part-time freelance work in 2012, and have been freelance full-time since 2013. My first few jobs involved writing and proofreading for a couple of clients I found through friends and other contacts – one is now my main client. As my experience and client list have grown I have been able to focus more on my specialism, mainly taking on science-related work.

  1. What specific knowledge, experience or qualifications do you need?

Although general editing and proofreading skills will get you a long way, a good knowledge of biology and of scientific concepts and terminology is important, particularly for more academic books, research papers and student theses. However, I also work on more general interest natural history books and magazines, so it’s also useful to know how to communicate science in an accessible way.

Some of the main issues I look out for are mistakes in Latin names and in the use of scientific terms, problems with referencing, and sometimes more serious factual errors – all things that could easily be missed if you’re not familiar with the subject.

  1. How do you go about finding work in this area?

I’ve found many of my clients through word of mouth – for example, by being passed on by friends who work in the wildlife world, some of whom have been writing books themselves. I’ve also approached publishers who specialise in my field, as well as offering my services to wildlife and conservation groups, and have taken on a few students via my website or through personal recommendations.

  1. What do you most enjoy about the work?

I’m passionate about my subject, so it’s a way of being paid to read my favourite books! I also love learning more about the natural world, and enjoy connecting with authors who are experts in their subject and have fascinating insights to share.

  1. What are the particular challenges?

My greatest challenge is usually reference lists – they can be fiddly and time-consuming to edit, though I do get a sense of satisfaction at getting them into shape.

  1. What’s the worst job you’ve had – and/or the best?

My most challenging jobs have usually involved long, detailed academic books, as these can be complex and sometimes a bit dry. Authors and students are often keen to make their writing sound ‘scientific’, but I have to help ensure it’s also readable.

BioBlitz butterflyOne of my favourite jobs is proofreading a quarterly magazine for a wildlife charity – it’s always inspiring to read about the conservation work they’re doing. I also love working on books where I get to learn something new. Field guides are particularly useful for brushing up on my species identification skills, and I recently got to copy-edit a book that combined nature with one of my other passions – art!

  1. What tips would you give to someone wanting to work in this field?

Taking a couple of courses with the SfEP and the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) is one of the best decisions I’ve made. It allowed me to improve not only my skills but also my confidence, and has helped me to make sure I’m doing my job to the best of my ability.

If you’re into a subject like science, I would recommend using any links you have with people you already know in the field – you never know who they might be able to pass you on to. And read, a lot – it never hurts to know as much as you can about the type of material you want to work on.

  1. What is the pay like – and are there any other perks?

I usually find that the pay from publishers works out on the low side, and I almost always get offered a flat rate regardless of the time the work actually takes. However, I do get to stock my shelves with a fantastic array of nature books!

  1. What other opportunities do you think editorial work in this area might lead to?

I’m keen to take on more writing work alongside the proofreading and editing, and have plans for a nature-related book of my own. Having seen things from an editor’s point of view, I will hopefully be in a better position to improve how I approach my own writing.

Liz DrewittLiz Drewitt is a Professional Member of the SfEP, specialising in proofreading and copy-editing natural history and science. She works on a range of material, from detailed species monographs to field guides, popular science books, magazines, reports and student theses. Liz has also written magazine articles and keeps a wildlife blog, and is an aspiring wildlife artist.

You can find Liz on her website at www.natureedit.com, on LinkedIn, or chatting about nature on Twitter.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.