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Book Review: Effective Onscreen Editing by Geoff Hart

by David Kowalsky

A second edition of Geoff Hart's comprehensive Effective Onscreen Editing: new tools for an old profession was published in 2010 (available in both print and e-book versions from Diaskeuasis Publishing).

What's New

The extensively revised second edition includes
  • more than 10,000 words of new material, based on what Geoff Hart has learned from teaching students,
  • specific details for Microsoft® Word 2003 and 2007 for Windows®, and Word 2008 for the Apple® Macintosh®.

What's In It

For anyone completely new to Effective Onscreen Editing, the three main topics are
  • what onscreen editing is,
  • what its advantages are, and
  • how to implement it.
The intended audience encompasses both those who have never edited onscreen and those who are currently doing so but want tips on how to be more effective.

Chapters to Get You Started

The size of the book, at 735 e-book pages, is a little overwhelming, but Hart points out early on that "If you study only Chapter 4 (customizing your computer so it's not quite so uncomfortable) and Chapter 6 (using revision tracking), that's all you need to begin editing productively on the screen" (p. 4).

The Chapter That Interests Me

One of my own areas of interest right now is the creation and use of "macros" (small programs that carry out a specified series of actions). In Word, these macros are easy to use for frequent multi-step operations. Chapter 11, Automating your edits, has good "start-from-knowing-nothing" information on the topic, including a simple, yet complete, step-by-step example of how to record a macro. For readers who want to explore macros in more depth, Hart mentions Editorium, a site with both free and for-purchase macros. (Also, see Reviewer’s note below.)

The Biggest Strength

One of the biggest overall strengths of the book is that information is chunked in manageable pieces, designed to be read to solve a problem. You can also profitably read a chapter at a time to increase your mastery of onscreen editing.

The Meat of this Book

The last of the four sections Hart calls “the meat of this book” (p. 4) is the indispensible four-step approach to implementing onscreen editing. Hart designed this approach to apply to all situations:
  • freelance editor working with clients,
  • manager working in a department, or
  • editor or author in a department.

A Great Addition

A great addition to the second edition is Appendix III: Troubleshooting Microsoft Word. This appendix discusses possible solutions to frequently observed bugs.

A Wise Move

A wise move was to remove the Helpful Internet Resources section from the back of the book. It is now all available at a Web site, where it can be kept current. Hart also maintains a corrections and additions page. He actively encourages comments and suggestions for improvement.

Perhaps, Something More Required...

The second edition of Effective Onscreen Editing discusses collaborative editing. However, the information is already a bit dated. Hart does cover it in a section called "Collaborative editing of documents " (Chapter 6: Using revision tracking), but the book stops at Word 2007. It does not address Microsoft Word 2010’s co-authoring function or Google® Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, both of which allow simultaneous file editing.

A Valuable Resource

It is really just stating the obvious to write that there are lots of editing resources available on the Internet. But the wealth of quality information gathered all in one place—by a very experienced independent editor—is very valuable. It is not easy to cover both Mac and Windows in the same book; Hart manages to pull this off very well. For everyone interested in mastering onscreen editing, this is a book for you.

Reviewer’s note: For people who like "hands-on" learning with exercises that use sample files, I recommend Iconlogic's workbook "Editing with Microsoft Word 2007." (I reviewed the workbook on page 8 of this newsletter: http://www.stc-psc.org/newsletter/pdfs/stcpsc_2009sepoct.pdf ).

Page last modified on Thursday, April 28, 2011 06:43:51pm EDT
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