Advanced Professional Member of SfEP Publishing professional for two decades Decade editing for a website with daily deadlines Right Touch Editing specializes in business and web copy, with ridiculous deadlines We might want to make the case for getting more time to edit, we’re not likely to get it Share with you today a strategy for how to edit faster Things I’ve done and taught at presentations like this, in the University of California–San Diego’s program & for private companies
Got into copyediting because we love language. Joy in good writing Copyeditors help writing be its best Once we had time to work with care Does anyone here feel like it’s still this way? No, I don’t either. IDC. Outsourced to India. Today do more CE: SEO, proofreading, fact-checking, publishing copy (CMS). We may resent this, but editing has changed whenever tech has. Not necessarily bad: do what we love, seen as valuable Problem: do it faster—and likely w/o a proofreader Faster we work, the more mistakes we make & miss It’s exhausting. It can be a struggle just to survive the day.
Don’t want to just survive—you want to thrive. We need to adapt. Adjust work habits to align with work environment. Because more time is never coming back Follow the Boy Scout moto: Be Prepared. Counter-intuitive: spend more nonediting time preparing Hit the ground running during editing
Being prepared especially helpful when you must act faster than you can think. “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail” Go beyond reacting Plan for it and create a strategy to work quickly long term. When?! In your non-editing time. Human nature: just jump right in Also exhausting and error-prone Fight that compulsion and make a plan Today: creating a strategy for thriving in copyediting 2.0 world.
Your strategy: 1. Know your resources so you find what you need quickly on deadline. 2. Know your tools so you can use them more effectively while editing. 3. Create a triage plan.
The first thing is to know your resources. So let’s talk about our resources.
House style guide = best friend Written especially for your publication Review it regularly Many rules we don’t use regularly & forget them. Give yourself a workout and review: Recent changes and new entries. Items you haven’t used in a while. Front matter. Learn more (on RTE)
If your publication doesn’t have a house style guide, I would encourage you to start writing one, even if you’re the only one who uses it. Make notes as you edit and in quiet moments flesh out your notes and organize the information, just as you would with a style sheet.
Make it easy to look something up: Make notes Highlight items Put flags or bookmarks in it Create shortcuts if it’s a digital file
Get to know the style manual & house dictionary. Colleen Barry’s PDF handout from a past conference, “How to Learn a Style Guide in 10 Days.” Covers such topics as reviewing basic usage (Day 3) and styling numbers (7). Read the front matter Make it easy to look something up. Flag important pages. Online bookmarks; phrase-expanding shortcuts; bookmarks within the website. EXAMPLE: PE shortcuts: CMS, MWU, AP; also directly to entries, like AP’s dateline entry.
What do you most frequently look up? Put in a separate, personal style sheet. Include: rules, words you often forget how to spell, shortcuts, notes on AU, FAQs. Long sheet? Bookmarks and highlighting EX: NEEDED
Review your grammar—everything from spelling to usage to grammar rules—and editing guidelines Attending this conference is a great way to review what you know and learn something new—so hooray for you! Annually: take an online course, attend conference sessions that offer review, pick up a new workbook And I love how SfEP encourages continuing education and rewards it. Take advantage of it! As for what to review: What haven’t you done in a while? What do you struggle with? Set aside time to research that one thing you trip over. You could do it daily or weekly by continually reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, playing word games and puzzles. Both SfEP and EFA sell inexpensive booklets to help you conquer topics. You will find if you teach, mentor or coach that those things will help you review as well.
Before we move on to tools, does anyone have any questions or recommendations?
I love a good checklist! Safety net List ALL steps you need to follow Review it regularly: forgotten items, changes/new items EX: InfoSec, forgot to review auto-gen’ed URL. I had been missing that step for months! AU checklist: their voice, preferences, common errors; one quick pass of your AU’s most common errors? EX: Track things like which authors preferred long hyphenated phrases
You know the CMS basics Get to know its quirks Can you tab between boxes? Can you open a drop-down list and start to type to have it scroll for you? Anything that will save mousing and keystrokes is worth noting.
If you’re working in Word: Template: cues you for all the pieces you need, applies styles/formatting EX: Tip template Make use of macros, autocorrect, keyboard shortcuts. (mention Amy’s macro session?) Macros Autocorrect Keyboard shortcuts PerfectIt! by Intelligent Editing. Bookmarks to find your place quickly. Para. and word styles to make changes universally
Text-expanding software: shortcuts for text HTML Websites Works in just about any software Save you a ton of time on things you do repeatedly. Watch your habits. What do you type or mouse to over and over? Create a shortcut for it!
Never underestimate well-placed post-it. EX: Learning new shortcuts. I will post a few to learn, and when I’ve learned them, I’ll post new ones, so I can keep learning. All of these things will help prepare you: Information top of mind or flagged to be found easily Have tools ready to do their best work Quickly hinder you if not up to date. Update at the end of your editing or in prep moments What other tools do you use? Any questions before we move on? Any tools you’d recommend getting to know better or tips for using these tools better?
Can’t always do everything that needs doing in the time we have An occasional more-urgent-than-usual rush Or baked-into-the-system, constant time crunch You’ll need to make choices--triage If you have authority: create a triage list and put it into play
Most need to talk with supervisor/superior/client Be prepared for that meeting. Share strategies using Helps make case you’re doing your best May bolster your case with examples or data Time to do some tasks Time to complete all the tasks Make notes while edit Lay out in an organized fashion
EX: Save time copyediting and proofing over just proofing If 2 separate rounds, less over time spent by editor & designer Designer time costs 3x $$ Finish faster, cost less
Bring well-thought-out triage list & plan for when to use it Ask your supervisor about their priorities Adjust the list accordingly Knowing before the edit what you’ll focus on Sets everyone’s expectations Gives you guidance in stressful moments Prioritize list Run out of time: items at the bottom will be less problematic
What kind of things should be on your triage list?
Lobbying for a simple, easy to apply style can help in these moment. And if you work for a publication that thinks it has a stripped-down style but actually has a lot of unwritten rules, write those rules down.
SEO can be triaged Supervisors don’t always want it Review what’s most important: images; meta title and meta description; keywords/topics/categories.
Fact-checking can be triaged Priority: legal trouble. Embarrassing errors. Facts crucial to the article’s thesis. Lower-priority items: generalized into factual correctness. EX: AU quotes Joe Smith of Widget Co., listing his title as “director of widgets, gadgets, and grommets.” Can’t nail down his precise title. Rewrite as “director.”
Questions? What tips do you have? How do you approach triaging?
CE grown beyond boundaries we were taught. More duties, less time Often working without a safety net. Create your own safety net: strategy created for a time-pressed environment: Know your resources Create a strategy for finding what you need quickly. Know your tools Find ways to use them more efficiently. Create a triage plan that works for the business and you. Adapt work method to a time-crunched environment: keep doing the work we love without sacrificing quality or our sanity to it.
Download slides, along with live links Articles: Resources section of my website at www.righttouchediting.com/resources. Feel free to connect.
Copyediting 2.0: Editing in the Age of “Post It Now or Lose Your Audience”