My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Using the Computer to Your Advantage

Tips from Proofreading: Plain and Simple by Debra Hart May, with my own commentary:
  • "Cut and paste features of your software."
    • All software programs have shortcuts built in. Some even allow you to input your own. Use these shortcuts to your advantage and save your time for more intense proofreading issues. Instead of erasing a line of text and retyping it farther down on the page, use the copy and paste features. Instead of using the "File" tab in Word to save your document repeatedly, hit "Ctrl + S." Though these moves only save you a minimal amount of time if you are a fast computer user, the seconds will add up to finishing your piece sooner. They are especially useful if you are slower at using a computer.
  • "Spell-checkers."
    • This is a very well-known feature of most programs. Many programs have a spell-checker built in that never did before, such as e-mail messages and even this blog post. Some, like Word, check automatically and highlight any misspelled words as you type. Though you cannot rely on this feature to catch every mistake, they provide you with a good starting point and can catch many errors you might have missed yourself. Be sure to double-check the suggestions that it gives you instead of accepting them blindly, because you may inadvertently insert a mistake where there wasn't one before. Spell-checkers have a limited dictionary and will often not recognize field-specific language. As always, it is important to have a human proofread the document well.
  • "Grammar-checkers."
    • Though grammar-checkers are less common than spell-checkers, they are also quickly gaining ground in computer programs. They are a useful feature but should not be relied on too heavily. Ultimately, it is up to your personal preference if you decide to use it at all. Some provide some much-appreciated advice, but others just take up more time than they are worth. Do whatever works best for you, but do not let the computer do all the work for you.
  • "Text-marking features."
    • Use these features when you are proofreading a document for someone else. This allows you to show what changes, additions, and deletions you would make without actually doing them. That way, the author or whomever you are sending the edited version to will be able to clearly see what needs to be done with the piece and will be able to improve the writing themselves. Also, it leaves room for you to make suggestions or ask questions that cannot be shown with normal proofreaders' marks.

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