Book review

The On-screen Editing Handbook

Michele Sabto, The On-screen Editing Handbook
Tertiary Press, Victoria
RRP: $22.50, 89 pp.

Reviewed by Caroline Mordaunt
Catchword, Issue 95, Spring 2003

This is a small, practical book designed to be used in the field, as it were. It is spiral bound and lightweight, so is easy to prop up next to your computer while you refer to it.

The author, Michele Sabto, has had plenty of experience of on-screen editing both as a teacher and an editor, and has used feedback from some of her RMIT students to hone the contents. The text is based on editing using Microsoft Word and, as she assures us, ‘the Word features referred to are available in both PC and Mac versions of Word’.

The six chapters cover the key aspects of editing on-screen: ‘Managing files’, ‘Removing redundant spacing’, ‘Creating and applying styles’, ‘Editing with Track Changes and Comments’, ‘Working with authors’ and ‘Other Word features’.

Throughout, the text is straightforward and well presented and leads the reader in step-by-step fashion through the different stages of, for example, creating a new style and the various tools associated with that function. There are plenty of illustrations showing exactly what your computer screen should be like at a given stage. And the flexibility of on-screen editing is emphasized – if you want to change all your main headings to Copperplate Gothic, it can be done in an instant. Some of us might carp at having to learn all these new computer the huge range of functions at our fingertips.

The chapter called ‘Working with authors’ was interesting. Ms Sabto suggests that once authors have received proofs of their copy in electronic version they should then go on to comment on the editor's Track Changes using the Comments function (having first switched off the Track Changes feature). I don't know of many authors who would patiently work through this detailed process but obviously they must exist somewhere!

It is the ideal guide for editors, or indeed anyone who formats documents, who needs to brush up on the electronic aspects of editing. Of course, hands-on practical experience in the shape of a course where you can ask awkward questions is the best way to learn, but this handbook will teach you, or help you revise, the basics in no-nonsense style and would be well worth the modest cover price.

Contact the Society: e-mail:
Post: Society of Editors (Tasmania), c/- Institute of Professional Editors, PO Box 8, Coopers Plains Qld 4108

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