If you’re proofreading onscreen, either with my proofreading stamps or your software’s comment and mark-up tools, it’s worth spending a few minutes to set up the various onscreen elements in an ergonomic fashion as well as familiarizing yourself with basic keyboard shortcuts.
Some aspects of onscreen work are speedier – searching for and implementing global changes, for example – while moving between the various mark-up tools is not as quick as using a hand and pen. There are, however, things you can do to compensate and make your onscreen experience more effective.
1. Make the toolbar work for you
Shift the most-used elements on your toolbar so that they are near to each other and on the side of the screen with which you operate your mouse. These elements might include the typewriter, mark-up tools, text tools, and stamp and save buttons. Use your mouse to click, hold and drag the elements across the toolbar ribbon.
2. Use the stamps palette
Use stamps of proofreading symbols to complement the comment box and mark-up tools in your PDF editor. You can create your own or use the sets I’ve already developed. They’re available free of charge here. If you’re unfamiliar with these, see PDF Editing: Making the Most of the Stamps Tool.
Remember to keep your stamps palette open; it will save you time when selecting each stamp you want to use.
In XChange you can minimize the size of the symbols as they appear in the palette (see the highlight in the screenshot to the left). This enables you to see a greater number of stamps while you are working without having to scroll up and down the palette. In Acrobat, the palette is not as user-friendly, so use a second screen to get the best of the display.
In XChange, number similar stamps sequentially so that they appear in a logical order. This will make it easier to find the stamp you need, particularly if each palette contains a lot of symbols (If you’ve downloaded my XChange stamps simply change the number-name in order to re-sequence them).
It's useful to keep your palettes of different-coloured stamps separate so that the palettes don't become overly cluttered. Again, this will enable you to locate the stamp you need more efficiently.
3. Hook up a second screen
I generally use a laptop, but I hook up my old desktop screen to enable me to use two screens at once when I’m doing onscreen work. This works well on three counts:
4. Utilize basic keyboard shortcuts
These are my preferred keyboard shortcuts when working with PDFs. There are many, many more but I like these because all but one can be managed easily with one hand.
Alt Tab: this is one of my most-used keyboard short cuts and is especially useful if you only have one screen to work on and need to flit between different programs or files.
Ctrl S: save
Ctrl C: copy
Ctrl X: cut
Ctrl V: paste
Ctrl Z: undo
Ctrl A: select all
Ctrl Shift F: opens search window
5. Bookmark key pages
If you refer back to the same key pages time and again and your client hasn’t already bookmarked these (contents, part titles, chapter first page, bibliography, index etc.), it’s easy to do it yourself and will save you time. Use Ctrl B to open the bookmark function in Acrobat, PDF-XChange or PDF-XChange Viewer and name your page.
6. Use a snipping tool to make your own quickie stamps
If you are constantly using a particular combination of mark-up symbols in a piece of work (e.g. you have to change A to Å many times), you can make your own quickie stamp using a snipping tool. Windows supplies this, but if your operating system doesn’t there are plenty of free alternatives online. Pin it to the task bar at the bottom of your screen to access it quickly.
In the case given above, you would use the typewriter to print Å on your PDF, followed by the replace-slash stamp. Use your snipping tool to draw round both marks and save. Then import your new stamp into your palette. Now you only have to make one click, not two, in order to make the margin mark.
To access the stamps files, see the article Free Downloadable Proofreading Stamps. For a more detailed look at using stamps for onscreen work, go to PDF Editing: Making the Most of the Stamps Tool. For installation instructions, click here.
Anything to share?
Do you have any tips to share for more efficient onscreen work, such as favourite keyboard shortcuts or using function keys? Please share them with us in the Comments section below so that we can all improve our onscreen working experience.
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with crime, mystery, suspense and thriller writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), a member of ACES, a Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and co-hosts The Editing Podcast.
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'Louise uses her expertise to hone a story until it's razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.'
'I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.'
J B Turner
'Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class.'
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'A million thanks – your mark-up is perfect, as always.'