Whether you are writing or editing, your productivity is aided immensely by using tools which will assist your efficiency.
Tall Tartan Talks here … I describe four software tools I use to make writing and editing quicker.
The tools will also save using the mouse and lower your risk of Repetitive Strain Syndrome (RSI).
The tools I use are:
- Keyboard shortcuts
There are more, of course, but four are described here for brevity.
TextExpander is ‘Customisable and shareable snippets of text that allow you to fly through repetitive tasks quickly by expanding the things you type regularly’ (textexpander.com). I pay for this software, but there are other free phrase expander apps.
The software has access to your keyboard. When a pre-chosen snippet is typed, it writes the message in full, thereby saving much time and effort. You choose your opening code.
I have a range of phrases listed, from those needed in general situations, like typing my email address, to using a phrase repeatedly in the comments of certain proofreading projects, eg ‘Insert comma’ (snippet: zic). Another favourite snippet to insert is my mobile number (snippet: z0). All my snippets begin with ‘z’ as it’s rarely used as an initial letter in my writing.
Another example is when an indie client emails to ask if I am available to proofread their book. I have a snippet that produces an email with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) such as deadline, genre, word count, and request for a sample (even though these points are all listed on my Contact me page as requirements when emailing).
Phrase expanders are also useful for when a diplomatic email is needed. Save the preferred wording and reduce the thinking angst, increasing efficiency.
I have saved particular snippets in specific project files in TextExpander; I keep my snippets software open when I am using them for a job, rather than trying to remember them all!
In Microsoft Word in PC Windows there are many keyboard shortcuts.
Some well-known ones are:
- Ctrl S: Save
- Ctrl X: Cut
- Ctrl C: Copy
- Ctrl V: Paste
- Ctrl Z: Undo
These shortcuts work across many programmes, not just in Microsoft Word. Ctrl Z has helped me out of trouble on numerous occasions in numerous places!
PerfectIt is proofreading software for professionals, purchased from Intelligent Editing. An Add-on in Microsoft Word, when activated and launched, it finds inconsistencies in style preferences. All style choices can be checked or specific checks selected. It gives a summary of possible errors at the end of the check.
It now includes a link to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), which, if you edit in US English, many editors working internationally have found invaluable.
PerfectIt is not free, but there is a discount if you are a member of the CIEP (ciep.uk). Find discounts in the Members’ area. It is worth the price for the convenience of speed and efficiency.
Another option for efficiency is to use macros instead of / as well as PerfectIt.
Macros are freely available from Paul Beverley’s website: www.wordmacrotools.com
A macro is some coding that you tell Microsoft Word what you want to check. Paul has made 1,000s of macros over the years all for public use. I use a couple; my favourite one is DocAlyse which finds inconsistencies in styles (in the same way as PerfectIt).
Some editors even customise their mouse by linking keyboard shortcuts and macros to mouse buttons.
Being more efficient
Most of my proofreading is done on PDFs as the publishing workflow of the publisher or indie author nears the end. But, for efficiency’s sake, I will convert a PDF to Word and save my copy just to be able to run PerfectIt and my favourite macros to speed up finding inconsistencies.
If you’re writing or editing, what tools do *you* use to be more efficient and productive? Remember to experiment with different software options for efficiency to find what speeds up tasks for you.
The idea is to be more efficient, letting the software do the ‘grunt’ work – the routine editing tasks – so that we editors, the trained experts, have more time to make specific editorial decisions. That is, prioritising the human side of editing.
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Contact me to check my availability for proofreading non-fiction and children’s books.