Work Process

Much of JLA’s work for regular clients arrives unannounced via e-mail. It is edited using one of several different processes and then returned to the client. Some clients need to know in advance what the charges will be. Those clients send the job or a sample page and Gary promptly returns a bid for approval by the client before starting work on it.

Originally most of Gary’s editing work was done in the old-fashioned style: receive the job in hard copy from the client, usually by FedEx, mark it up with a red pen using primarily standard proofreader’s marks, and FedEx it back to the client. (Gary uses his own slightly modified system of marks whose meanings are understandable by anyone, regardless of whether they are familiar with standard proofreader’s marks.) A significant amount of JLA’s work is still done in this fashion. The traditional editing method is particularly good for large jobs that may be difficult to transmit over the Internet.

Marking up documents with a red pen has its advantages. But as in most fields, technological innovations of the past decade have changed everything. Now the great majority of editing is done electronically: either editing and revising Word documents using the Track Changes feature, or editing PDF files using a combination of the annotation and text editing features.

Tracking Changes in Word
For a Word document — rough copy that is not yet laid out, or is not destined for layout — the easiest way to edit is to use Word’s Track Changes feature. For those unfamiliar with this feature, it helps to first go to View>Toolbars and click Reviewing. That will bring up a toolbar that has all the controls you need to use this feature. After receiving the file, saving it to the proper directory and opening it, the editor first clicks the Track Changes button to turn Track Changes on. (The button will illuminate.) From then on all insertions will appear underlined (and sometimes in red depending on the version), and all deleted text will appear in a balloon in the right margin. Format changes also appear in the margin. In addition, the editor can click the Insert Comment button on the Reviewing toolbar to ask a question or make a comment, and it will appear in a box in the right margin, connected to the highlighted text to which the question relates.

When the client receives the edited file with changes tracked, after opening it they can use several buttons on the Reviewing toolbar to do various actions. Click on the Accept Change button, and you are given a choice of accepting the one change (where your cursor is right now) or accepting all changes in the document. Click on the button to the right of it — Reject Change/Delete Comment — and you’re given a similar set of choices regarding deleting the one change or comment, or deleting all changes or comments in the document. Useful for both editor and client, the Show button on the Reviewing toolbar offers the option of viewing the document “clean” — without showing the changes — by unchecking Insertions and Deletions. But it still tracks the changes (if Track Changes is turned on), even if they are not showing on the screen. In other words, you can make changes and the document looks clean (no underlining of insertions or deleted material appearing in the margin) but the changes are still being tracked. Click the Show button again, check Insertions and Deletions, and all the changes will once again appear onscreen, including the ones you made while the revisions were not being tracked onscreen.

It may sound a little daunting but it’s really easy and handy to use. And this feature saves the client money and time in several ways. First, the editor has not only edited the file, but has also actually revised it, incorporating his/her edits — meaning that what used to be the second half of the job, having a word processor input the editor’s suggested edits, has already been done. Second, this process also eliminates the possibility of any new errors being introduced into the document by the word processor while inputting the edits. And finally, in a careful, detail-oriented office, someone usually has to proof to see that the word processor followed the editor’s instructions. That job, too, is eliminated.

Click here to see a Word document with changes tracked.

Editing PDF Files
This electronic editing method is most useful for pieces that are already in layout form. Adobe Acrobat PDF files cannot actually be changed or revised by the recipient. But the annotation feature is useful for making editorial suggestions or comments. After clicking on either the Hand tool or the Notes tool, when you move your cursor over a little yellow electronic Post-It, the editor’s suggestion, comment or question pops up.

Newer versions of Acrobat include a text editing feature that allows the editor to delete text (it appears in strike-through type) and insert text (it appears when you cursor over a little insert mark called a caret). This is a newer feature that has yet to gain widespread acceptance, among JLA clients anyway.

Click here to see an Adobe Acrobat PDF file with editor’s annotations and text editing features. (The full Acrobat software, not just the free Acrobat Reader, is probably required to see these features.)