Category Archives: Reviews

PerfectIt 4: an upgrade

With PerfectIt 4 now available, Dr Hilary Cadman, a long-time devotee of PerfectIt, reviews the updated program.

Daniel Heuman and the team at Intelligent Editing have heeded feedback from users and made this fabulous program even more impressive.

Simpler to start

PerfectIt has always been user-friendly, but now it is even more so, with an expanded Start panel. As soon as PerfectIt launches, it is immediately obvious which style is selected, and you can change it using the dropdown list in the Start panel rather than having to go to the ribbon. Also, with ‘Choose Checks’ upfront, it is quick and easy to see which tests are selected. Previously, if you deselected particular tests when running PerfectIt, it was easy to forget you’d done that, and then wonder why PerfectIt was missing things the next time you ran it (speaking from experience 😊).

Faster and cleaner

A major improvement from previous versions is the speed of PerfectIt 4. The initial step of assessing the document is impressively speedy, with it now taking only seconds for PerfectIt to complete its scan, even if your document is hundreds of pages long or contains lots of tables and data.

Another new feature of PerfectIt 4 that makes it faster is the function to fix errors. Whereas in previous versions the ‘Fix’ button sat to the right of the ‘Locations to check’ window, it now sits within that window, and each location to check has its own ‘Fix’ button. If you drag the task pane to make it wider, the ‘Locations to check’ window expands, making it easy to see each possible error in context. Thus, instead of having to click on a location, look at it in the document to see it in context and then return to the PerfectIt task pane to fix it, you can now work just within the task pane, saving time and effort.

Initially, I found that I was trying to click anywhere in the highlighted location to apply the fix, but once I realised that you need to have the cursor on the word ‘Fix’, it was fine. Activating the keyboard shortcuts (with F6) speeds up the process even more, because you can use one hand to move the mouse down the list and the other to click ‘F’ to apply a fix.

Also new are the little buttons near the top of the PerfectIt side bar that allow you to easily rerun the test that you’re in, or to open the whole list of tests and move on to an earlier or later one if you wish.

Styles made easier

Managing styles is another thing that’s better in PerfectIt 4. Creating a new style sheet based on an existing one used to involve exporting a style sheet, saving it to the desktop and importing it with a new name. Now, the whole thing can be done from within PerfectIt simply by opening ‘Manage Styles’ and selecting ‘New’ – this opens a window in which you can give your new style a name and say which style you want to base it on.

Another welcome style change is that the built-in styles are now preserved, but if you want to make a change to one of those styles (eg to UK spelling), PerfectIt will automatically create a new version of that style sheet (eg ‘My UK spelling’), which you can modify. Also, the built-in styles will automatically update if Intelligent Editing makes changes to them. A further useful new feature is the option to combine style sheets, nominating which style should override the other where they differ.

Finally, the style sheet editor, which works behind the scenes, was always a rather daunting part of PerfectIt, particularly in comparison to the front end of the program. The basic set-up looks much the same, but a welcome improvement is that changes to the style sheet editor now save automatically, rather than the user having to click on ‘Save and exit’ to save changes.

The verdict

I would highly recommend updating to PerfectIt 4. The upgrade is relatively cheap (currently only US$49/year – around £40 – for those already on subscription), and the benefits will be obvious immediately, particular in terms of time saving. Also, for those who are used to previous versions, the interface is sufficiently similar that updating won’t hold up your work.

If you’re still in doubt, why not give it a try. Free trials for permanent licence holders and new customers are now available (and any style sheets that created in PerfectIt 3 will automatically be brought into PerfectIt 4).

Disclosure: Hilary received a 2-year subscription to PerfectIt as an incentive to pen this review.

Hilary Cadman is a technical editor who has been using PerfectIt for nearly 10 years and has produced online courses to help fellow editors get the most out of the program.


This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Editing Matters, the SfEP’s digital magazine.


Proofread by Emma Easy, Entry-Level Member.
Posted by Abi Saffrey, SfEP blog coordinator.

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

What’s new in PerfectIt 3?

PerfectIt 3, a new, updated version of the popular software that many of us find invaluable, has just been launched by Intelligent Editing. Wendy Toole looks at what the new version has to offer.

PerfectItscreen

The first difference to notice with PerfectIt 3 is that it has its own ribbon tab (or its own toolbar in Word 2003), not only making its new features instantly available but also opening up and drawing attention to existing features that may have skipped a user’s notice in earlier versions. There is simple access to ‘Reports’ and ‘Help’ groups, and also the new ‘Style Sheets’ group that now includes many options in addition to basic UK or US English spelling, such as Australian or Canadian, and a choice of house styles such as those of the European Union and the WHO.

Of the many new tests included in PerfectIt 3, the ones that appeal to me as an editor mostly of academic humanities texts are those for accents/foreign characters, italics, and brackets and quotes left open. The test for accents/foreign characters will draw your attention to inconsistencies such as ‘café’ and ‘cafe’. The italics test includes a selection of phrases such as a priori and inter alia, to which you can also add your own items: you select whether you want the terms always, never or consistently italicised, with the default being for consistency. (My authors often italicise ‘HMS’ in names of ships, so I’ll be adding that to the ‘never’ list …) What the test for brackets and quotes being left open can do to help you doesn’t need explaining.

Useful for STM

Among the new tests that will be of particular use to editors working on STM-type texts are those for superscripts and subscripts, percentage symbols and non-breaking spaces with measurements. They are also likely to appreciate having the useful ‘Table of Abbreviations’ accessible on the ribbon. PerfectIt 3 is even more customisable than its predecessor, and the ‘Style Sheets’ group in the ribbon makes the many available options easy to negotiate. Among those that will be welcomed by almost everyone are options to set capitalisation styles in different heading levels, and tests for the hyphenation of prefixes (as with the italics test, you can opt for always, never and consistency). Also – to my surprise and delight – there is now the facility to carry out wildcard find and replace routines: if you have a special F&R that does just the thing you want, such as replacing hyphens in number ranges with en dashes, which I seem to use in every job I do, simply paste it in on the ‘Wildcards’ tab of the ‘Style Sheet Editor’.

Skip sections

Another new feature that will be a great time-saver for many of us is the option to tell PerfectIt 3 to skip particular sections of text when running checks. Anyone who edits material with a lot of quotes from other sources will appreciate this, not to mention those – probably most of us at one time or another – whose work contains bibliographies. As well as opting to exclude from checking all text between straight/curly single/double quotes in ‘Choose Sections to Check’, you can type in the name of the Word style you have applied to your block quotes, and these will be skipped too. Footnotes, endnotes, references and bibliographies can all be excluded from the tests in their entirety, and you can also exclude all italic text elsewhere in your document.

Bespoke style sheets

As in PerfectIt 2, it is simple to make bespoke style sheets (either from scratch or based on an existing style sheet to which you wish to make customisation tweaks) to suit each of your clients. The new ‘Edit Current Style’ feature not only contains more options than were available in PerfectIt 2 but, with its plus-size dialogue box, is extraordinarily user friendly.

As a longtime user of PerfectIt, I was delighted to be asked to test and review PerfectIt 3. Unlike many software updates we’ve all struggled with, the new version is a clear and substantial improvement. Here, I have only scratched the surface of what it can do to help you perfect your documents. PerfectIt 3 is free to try, so do take a look whether you are a PerfectIt2 user or new to the product. I think you will like it. I certainly do.

Find out more at www.intelligentediting.com.

Wendy Toole profile pic

Wendy Toole is an advanced professional member and past chair (2011–2013) of the SfEP. She edits mainly academic humanities subjects, and historical and literary fiction. Her private passions include Victorian London, Victorian literature, and old maps and photographs. Follow Wendy on Twitter or find her on LinkedIn.

 

This review originally appeared in the May/June edition of Editing Matters, the membership magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

Members of the SfEP get a 15% discount on PerfectIt. If you’re already a member, log in to the Members’ area of the website for details.

A copy of Martin Chuzzlewit before being restored by Exeter Bookbinders

SfEP Devon group discovers the beauty of bookbinding

Chaim Ebanks from Exeter Bookbinders demonstrates bookbinding to the Devon SfEP group

Chaim Ebanks from Exeter Bookbinders

The beauty of a good piece of writing is in its content and style, which is what the editor and proofreader will tend to focus on. But hard-copy books are about more than cleverly written prose – they can often be works of art in their own right. Books can engage all our senses: the heady smell when you enter a bookshop; the sound of the paper as you turn a page; the salt you can almost taste on your lips as you read a scene depicting a windswept beach; and the pleasure that courses through your veins as you caress that dog-eared copy of your favourite novel.

Sadly, despite lots of TLC, our most treasured books can become more than a bit dog-eared. And that’s where expert bookbinders can come to the rescue, restoring our special books to their former glory.

After a fascinating session on bookbinding at last year’s SfEP conference, the SfEP Devon group recently invited Chaim Ebanks from Exeter Bookbinders to speak at one of its regular meetings in Exeter. Armed with a bone folder, needle and waxed thread, goatskin, and two Marmite jars containing mysterious ingredients (definitely not what was on the label), Chaim set about demonstrating the ancient art of bookbinding.

The session began with a brief history of writing systems covering soft clay tablets, the introduction of scrolls, the advent of paper and the use of wax tablets.

Chaim then set about demonstrating how to bind a book. The process involves sewing signatures – the folded papers that will become sections of pages – together with waxed thread before adding open-weave calico tapes to cover the sewing and strengthen the spine. The spine is then glued with polyvinyl acetate (one of the mysterious concoctions in Ebanks’s Marmite jars). Once the glue has dried, endpapers are added to the front and back and the book is covered with goatskin. The book is then placed in a clamp overnight to exclude any excess air and ensure a tight finish. The bone folder (made of whalebone) is used throughout the process to eliminate any creases or baggy edges.

Having demonstrated how to bind a book, Chaim then set to work adapting the process to restore a rather worn-out hardback copy of Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit. The book had definitely seen better days and its cover was completely detached.

A copy of Martin Chuzzlewit before being restored by Exeter Bookbinders

Before

However, after gently dismantling the cover and spine, Chaim added a new cover and endpapers before applying liberal amounts of bookbinders’ paste (the other mysterious concoction in his Marmite jars) to reveal a miraculously rejuvenated book.

 

The restored volume of Martin Chuzzlewit after Chaim Ebanks of Exeter Bookbinders rebound the book.

After

It still has the character of an old book, its pages marked with foxing (browned due to the ferrous oxidisation of the acid in the paper), but now has a polished cover and gleaming name plate. The book is ready to be cherished for many years to come.

 

As with many SfEP local groups, the session ended with a chance to enjoy tea and cake and chat to other proofreaders and editors in the area. The Devon SfEP group are grateful to Alison Shakspeare and Rosalind Davies for organising the event and to Chaim Ebanks for taking the time to share his knowledge and expertise with them. Chaim and his colleagues at Exeter Bookbinders are happy to speak at events; you can contact them via the Exeter Bookbinders website.

There are many local SfEP groups throughout the UK and beyond – there is even an international group. Meetings vary from informal gatherings over tea or dinner to organised events such as the bookbinding talk. To find out more about what’s going on near you, visit the local groups page on the SfEP website.

Joanna Bowery social media manager at the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)

Joanna Bowery

Joanna Bowery is the SfEP social media manager and a member of the Devon SfEP group. As well as looking after the SfEP’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and the SfEP blog, she is a freelance marketing and PR consultant operating as Cosmic Frog. Jo is an associate of the SfEP and a Chartered Marketer. In her spare time, Jo enjoys rugby (although she has retired from playing) and running.

 

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