Editing On Computer Versus Paper

So we continue with copyediting and proofreading comments . . .

Who knew that my five-part blog on proofreading and copyediting would turn into a five-part summary of the comments? What a joy it’s been to discover techniques used by others.

If you’ve been reading, you know I’ve collected the comments from this blog and from the LinkedIn writing group called Crime Fiction managed by Theresa de Valence.

Today I’m going to cover editing on the computer versus editing on paper. There were a lot of comments on this topic and hence a lot to learn. I’ve included comments about editing on e-readers (they’re computers too :) ).

Everything written in italics is by the person who made the comment and not by me.

Comments on Computer or Paper . . .

  • I also use my Kindle (actually, Kindle reader on iPad) to edit. You can add Notes and highlight sections interactively as you read. Unfortunately, PC users can’t export those notes, though Mac users can if they’re using an iPad. Not sure if the Fire is handling things differently, but I wrote about this on my blog, Using the Kindle to Edit ( http://matthew-iden.com/2012/03/27/using-the-kindle-to-edit/ ).
  • You can also send your mss to your e-Reader. The different appearance helps me when editing.
  • An editor once told me that the key to proofing is not to assume that there MIGHT be mistakes, but assume that there ARE mistakes. Then your job isn’t to see if you’ve got them, your job is to find them. A silly-sounding change in outlook and approach that seems to work. :) 

Kristina, I like that you mention turning reveal formatting on in your checklist. A nice way to catch double spaces, inconsistent spacing, and style snafus.
  • I proofread on my computer. I do this because I travel and don’t like to carry paper with me. Also, the people I proofread for don’t live in the same city as me.
But . . . The most important reason: 
I ask the author not to edit or change their novel while I’m proofreading. This means I have the master copy. When I edit on the computer I use the track change feature. This way, the author can accept or reject my changes in the same copy of the document. I find this avoids the situation where the author might introduce a new error when copying changes from a paper copy to their computer copy. I hope that makes sense.
  • I find it nigh on impossible to proofread my work on a computer. I can’t seem to get intimate enough with it. So for me, it’s my own printed copy, and then I need a proof copy for final edits. I HATE going through edits with my publisher over the phone – conversations that can sometimes take 3 or 4 hours
  • I find my editor invaluable. I accept her comments and follow as much as possible unless it takes away from my story. I only use a computer and have found that I can miss a lot doing this
  • Each person should use the technique that works best for him/her. I “see” more on the screen than I do on a printed page, but that’s probably because I like to read on a screen. I also change the font size and font just to make my eye see the words differently.
  • Pros for editing on the computer:  Try the “Add to Dictionary” function. I’ve used “ignore”, but I think the add function will work well for slang etc
  • I know some prefer to review a printed copy, but to me this kind of detailed screening is so much easier on computer using the Find function. Rather than reading through the document from start to finish, I go through one item at a time. For example, search for “its”, and check each instance to ensure it’s used correctly. Then search for the next item (maybe “it’s”) and again, step through the list of hits.
  • I don’t believe I would find as many errors if I only proofread on paper. I like to use paper early in the process if I’m reading for structure or story line, but not for hard care copyediting or proofing. Who can live without the find function?
I love the idea of using the ‘find’ function to track down common mistakes! I like to think that I catch these errors on my other editing passes, (I’m a nit picker that way!) but this way I would be absolutely sure. 
Am I the only one who wouldn’t mind a comma tip or two? Because I fear that my copious commas sometimes clog up my clarity.

Thanks for reading . . . 



2 thoughts on “Editing On Computer Versus Paper

  1. When it comes to editing manuscript, I prefer using the word processor since, as mentioned already by some of those comments you quoted, accepting and rejecting corrections is much easier, and possible repeating instances of error (e.g., it’s vs its) is easier to correct. However, in printed publication, it is important to have a hard copy when you’re already in the stage where the content is already formatted according to publisher’s style guide. Certain features such as verso/recto layout are way easier to check in hard copy than in computer.


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