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BookTalk Nov 2013

tips for making great books 

Track Changes—Friend or Foe?

Hello Book Lovers,

Every author needs an editor. Most authors welcome thoughtful edits to their content, or more straightforward copyediting per Chicago Manual of Style guidelines. We have discussed editing in past issues of Book Talk, but we haven't gotten into the nitty gritty of how the actual editing process works.

Some authors prefer to receive their edits on hard copy, which means that the editor marks changes with a red pencil on a printout of the manuscript that is double-spaced, includes page numbers, and is set in 12 pt. font, preferably Times New Roman for consistency. The look of the font won't matter at all at the editing stage. This is the old school approach to editing and it's a fine reliable method. Choosing red pencil editing on hard copy means that someone has to make the corrections to the actual document, working from the recommended changes the editor marked onto the hard copy with their trusty red pencil. That someone may be the author, or the publisher, but someone has to do that task carefully and then recheck to be sure all changes are in place. It takes additional time to get that manuscript ready for layout.

Another option is to have the editor work on the manuscript document itself as opposed to the hard copy printout. The editor can make changes using a tool called Track Changes, which is available in the Microsoft Word program. Using tracked changes allows an author to see the changes that are suggested alongside their original prose. When reviewing an edited document with Track Changes the author can either chose to accept or reject changes in the document itself. Using tracked changes saves the step of entering corrections into a manuscript, which also increases the accuracy of the editing process. Sounds great, right?

Some authors like the idea of a faster editing process, but find themselves stalled when it comes to actually working with an edited document that has the Track Changes function enabled. We recommend trying a test document first, so you can see if you like the process or not. We have one you can use for practice here Track_Changes_Sample.doc.

Using Track Changes only saves time, if you are comfortable using the tool, otherwise it can be a source of frustration and confusion. Your editor or publisher should offer guidance to help you to decide if Track Changes is a tool that is right for you, before they use it for your manuscript.
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Join Deidre Randall for a presentation hosted by the Portsmouth Public Library on Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00 pm. The workshop, "Getting into Print: Understanding Publishing Options," will provide an overview into the different types of publishing. The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit:

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Thanks for reading, sharing, or responding to Your comments and questions are always welcome!

Best wishes,

Deidre Randall, CEO

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