The Proofreader's Parlour
A blog for editors, proofreaders and writers
The following is a list of tips for efficient and drama-free onscreen proofreading.
Hit the Save button every time you make a change. I can’t count the number of times I’ve made an amendment in Word or on a PDF only for the screen to freeze or the program to crash. On most PCs the shortcut is Control S. If the gremlins do pay you a visit, at least you know that once you’ve re-accessed your file all your amendments will be up to date.
2. Back Up Your Files
Back up your files to an external hard drive. Ideally do this once a week, especially if you’re doing a lot of onscreen work. If your computer dies on you then you’re covered. You can pick up external hard drives with loads of memory for next to nothing these days. They’re compact, too, so they won’t clutter up your home office space.
3. Use a Memory Stick
Use a memory stick for the file you’re working on and save your current job on it at the end of each working session, and certainly at the end of the day. This means that your current job file is secure even if it isn’t included in a recent full-system backup. Memory sticks are tiny and you can slot them into the side of your laptop, or the port on your desk-top’s hard drive, with ease.
4. Use a Second Screen
If you need to have several documents open at once, and don’t like having to switch between them while you work, set up a second screen. This will allow you to see two files at a glance – for example, your style sheet and the file you’re proofing.
5. Use Alt Tab
In Windows, the Alt Tab function is one of my most-used toggles. It allows you to switch between open files with your free hand, meaning you don’t have to let go of your mouse.
6. Create Bookmarks in PDFs
If the PDF you’ve been sent hasn’t had any bookmarks set up, create your own. I tend to bookmark the contents, chapter headers and bibliography. If you leave your bookmarks sidebar open you can quickly access your preferred points of entry.
Any tips you want to share? Please do add them in the Comments section so that other readers improve their onscreen experience.
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All text on this blog, The Proofreader's Parlour, and on the other pages of this website (unless indicated otherwise) is in copyright © 2011–17 Louise Harnby. Please do not copy or reproduce any of the content, in whole or part, in any form, unless you ask first.
Author Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). I abide by its Code of Standards in regard to my status as an independent writer.
Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I'm a signatory to its code of practice as a professional editor.
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Winner of the Judith Butcher Award 2017 in respect of 'highly visible contributions to the SfEP and its membership'.