Macros enable us to edit faster and more consistently. For professional editors, that means a higher hourly rate, a more consistent output, and a happier client. If you want to use macros but don’t know where to start, read on.
Which macros, and when and why?
Which macros should you use? How does the Paul Beverley macro suite fit with an application such as PerfectIt? What should you use when?
No one’s the same. We edit different subject/genres, carry out different types of editing, and have different styles of working. There’s no one size fits all.
A conceptual approach, however, can help us decide which tools to use.
Analysis: Tasks versus goals
A task-centred analysis focuses on what we plan to do and deciding what tools will help with these stages. Thus, in the free book, Macros for Editors, I offer smorgasbord of macros that speed up a variety of specific tasks.
However, when we look broadly at what we’re trying to achieve, we may discover different ways of working and different tools – new tools, maybe – that can help.
One such contribution to this approach is the Alyse suite – analysis-type macros (DocAlyse, HyphenAlyse, etc.) that provide an overview that reports on the likely inconsistencies in a document without our even having to look at the files.
Computer-aided editing: Teamwork
Think of computer-aided editing as teamwork – you and the computer working together, each playing to your own strengths, with a single aim: to improve communication between author and reader.
A computer brings the following to the team:
On the downside, it lacks the ability to look beyond the data. It has no idea of meaning, significance, attitude, feelings – only humans can provide that.
Mechanics versus meaning
Editors spend a lot of time eliminating inconsistencies in the following:
This is the mechanical side of editing.
Editors also spend a lot of time focusing on meaning. It matters little how consistent a document is if the meaning is clouded. Obscure the meaning, and communication between the author and reader is impeded.
Using macros and related applications enables the editor to delegate some of the mechanical work to the computer – those mundane data-led tasks – and focus their minds on communication.
A possible workflow
Here’s one way it might look:
Here are the macros you might use in that workflow:
If you’re a PerfectIt user (see the Intelligent Editing website), you could use that instead at stages (3) and (5). Or continue to use FRedit for (3) but use PerfectIt for (5).
The latter is a possible best-of-both-worlds approach if you like the idea of having two different tools, each working to spot errors that the other might have missed.
False positives are to be expected with any computer tool. We can reduce them by refining the FRedit changes list and PerfectIt’s style sheets.
For best effect with global change macros, apply them to one chapter at a time, making adjustments that will make it more effective in succeeding chapters.
To access all my line-level and analysis macros, download the free book. You can also watch almost 100 video tutorials on my YouTube channel. And if you want to know more about PerfectIt, visit the Intelligent Editing website.
Please feel free to email me with suggestions and/or questions about macros.
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with independent authors of commercial fiction, particularly crime, thriller and mystery writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), a member of ACES, a Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and co-hosts The Editing Podcast.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Fiction Editor & Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
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