Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On-screen vs hard copy editing

Old-school editors like to work on hard copy. You have a manuscript that needs QA? The old-school editor prefers that you keep your Word file and give him, instead, a printout.

Some problems:

  • Getting changes back to the team to implement

    Hard copy changes will have to be converted to PDF if the project team is off-site, for example, or if versions of the project (including edited versions) are being stored on company servers. Hard copies are just awkward like that. The business environment is increasingly streamlined, paperless, digital; old-school editing presents basic process challenges for a modern company.

  • Failing to make the most of technology

    Microsoft Word is equipped with search functions, track changes, and comment features specifically designed for editors, authors, and project managers to maximize their reviews and collaborate seamlessly from version to version.

Productivity, collaborative potential, convenience: technology really does increase them, but only (obviously) if companies know the technology and editors implement available technology into their own best practice. A few practical benefits of working in Word include

  • Industry-customized dictionaries for spell-check

  • Search function for reliable detection of repeated mistakes

  • Comment feature to provide explanations (a teaching tool)

  • Comment feature for author/team queries

Using available technology today also prepares individuals and companies to make the most of technological advancements down the road.

1 comment:

Cheyenne said...

One could also make the argument that Microsoft Word itself is already old school, if not at least "mid-school".

It still presents the challenge of multiple copies and multiple stages being emailed around and living from thumb drive to thumb drive. How many files are called "final_final_copy_version_4_approved.doc"?

Centralized documents with collaborative tools such as Google Docs provide highly cohesive teams among geographically different (even if among cubes) co-workers.

Granted there is a learning curve and old school editors may not like it, but it will be the wave of efficiency in the future. Another tool to watch out for is Zimbra Office Suite which Yahoo acquired last fall as another online office productivity competitor.

Of course, it too, will become "old school" in favor of flying cars and ice-cream flavored brocolli. (aka mobile copy-editing from the Caymans).