Category Archives: Word

ASCII codes for common non-standard characters

In last week’s post I explained how to insert non-traditional characters into your Word or other text-based document. I promised to share a list of commonly used ASCII keyboard shortcut Alt+ codes, and here they are. If you have a favourite non-standard character that is not represented here, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll consider adding it.

Where did I get these codes from? As explained previously, you can pick them up in Word when inserting a character (Insert – Symbol – drop down From to ASCII) or in the Character Map (click on a symbol, look bottom right for the code). There are also various online resources that list them, and this is a list of my favourites. I hope you find it useful!

à  Alt-0224 lower case a grave

á  Alt-0225 lower case a acute

â  Alt-0226 lower case a circumflex

ä  Alt-0228 lower case a diaeresis

æ  Alt-0230 lower case ae

ç  Alt-0231 lower case c cedilla

è  Alt-0232 lower case e grave

é  Alt-0233 lower case e acute

É  Alt-0201 upper case e acute

ê  Alt-0234 lower case e circumflex

í  Alt-0237 lower case i acute

ñ  Alt-0241 lower case n tilde

ô  Alt-0244 lower case o circumflex

õ Alt-0245 lower case o tilde

ö Alt-0246 lower case o diaeresis

ø  Alt-0248 lower case o stroke

ð  Alt-0240 lower case eth

Р Alt-0208 upper case eth

þ  Alt-0254 lower case thorn

Þ  Alt-0222 upper case thorn

ß  Alt-0223 lower case sharp

Note: there is no ASCII code for a tick / check mark – you need to use Wingdings2 and a P in Word, not sure how people manage it elsewhere (add a comment if you know how to do this).

If you would like to suggest additions or would like to comment on this post in general, please do – also do consider sharing it via the buttons below.

Related posts on this blog:

how to insert non-traditional characters


Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Language use, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , ,

How to insert non-standard English characters into almost any text

text including eth and thorn in wordToday we’re going to learn how to insert non-standard English characters into Word and pretty well anywhere else where you might want to type some text.

What do I mean by non-standard English characters? I mean those characters that do not appear in a standard English alphabet, i.e. diacritics (letters with accents that you find in most European accents) and additional letters you don’t find in English, such as the eth and thorn found in Icelandic.

I’ll show you how to insert these in Word in a couple of different ways, and then share the best and most simple universal way to create these characters, as well as the special codes for some of my favourites.

Why would I want to type non-standard characters?

There are many reasons why you might want to type non-standard characters in your English documents / text / fields / whatever. Here are some of the reasons why I’ve done this myself:

  • As a cataloguer (and this is where I learnt about them and memorised some of the codes), I was required to catalogue in different languages, or enter people’s names which had accents on various letters into author fields.
  • I have a client called Jörg. He has to spell it Joerg in his email address and email signature. I prefer to be polite and spell it in the correct way when I email him and say “Hello Jörg”.
  • I’ve just been to Iceland. If I’m talking about places I’ve been or things I’ve read, I want to be able to use the full range of Icelandic letters – and they have two extra ones that we don’t use (nowadays) in English.
  • I work with bibliographies which might include non-English words with accents, etc. – if I need to add something or make a correction, it’s handy to know how to add the correct characters.

In many of these cases, I’m typing in a Tweet, a special piece of software or an email, as well as using Word for some of them. Many people know how to insert special characters in Word, but not everyone knows about the codes that you can use to pepper all of your communications with nice non-standard characters.

I’ll talk about Word first, and then broaden things out.

How do I insert special characters into my Word document?

There are two ways to insert special characters into a Word document. If you know the Alt-code for the letter, you can just hit Alt and a special four-figure number. More about that later on.

The official way is to Insert Character. This is how you do it (this works for all versions of Word for PC).

When you get to the place where you want to insert your special character, in this case an é at the end of café, go to the Insert tab (or menu in Word 2003) and choose Symbol from the Symbols area on the right:

Insert symbol word

When you press the Symbol button, a selection of commonly used symbols will appear (this will give you symbols that you’ve recently used; however, it will carefully offer you a range of popular ones if you’ve not used this method to insert very many symbols in the past). The one I want isn’t there:inserting symbols


You can now click on More Symbols to bring up the whole range:

More symbols in wordAt this point, a box including lots of symbols and special characters will pop up:

choice of symbols in word

You can now scroll down to find your symbol. Most of the common ones are on this default list. Here’s my acute e …

Selecting a symbol in word

And once I’ve pressed the Insert button, it will appear in my text.

It’s worth noting at this stage that a list of your recently viewed symbols is displayed in this window, and you can click on any of those and insert them in the same way. Word populates this with common symbols if you haven’t used this method to insert many symbols before (I personally use a different method), but as you use different ones, they will appear here and on that pop-up that appears when you initially click on Symbol (see above):

recently viewed symbols

One more thing to note before we press Insert: this screen also displays character codes. These are codes that you can use in conjunction with other codes and keys, including the Alt key method that I mentioned above. Drop down the arrow by From to get to ASCII and you will find a very useful four-figure code that you can use with Alt to insert non-standard characters into anywhere, not just Word.

Symbol codes

So, that’s how you insert a non-standard character in Word. What if you want to put one in Facebook, Twitter, etc?

How to use the character map on your computer to insert special characters

There is a character map on your computer that you can use to insert special, non-standard characters into any typing that you’re doing that will support these. Note that this works for a PC.

How do you access the character map? Hit the Start button in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen (in Windows 95 onwards and Windows 8.1, Windows 8 doesn’t have one but you can use the Win-R shortcut below), then choose Accessories / System Tools / Character Map:

Character map

You can also use this handy shortcut: Hit the Windows button on your keyboard and R together

windows key

or the Start button and Run and type Charmap into the box that appears:

Run charmap

However you get to it, you should see the character map, which looks like this:

character map

This looks a lot like the map in Word, and works in a similar but not identical way. Find the character you want, scrolling down or changing font if necessary. Click on it until it is highlighted (pops out of the box as below). Press Select and it will appear in the Characters to copy box below the grid.

character map select character

Once it’s been Selected, you will need to Copy it by pressing the Copy button (note: this means that you can select several characters in a row, if you have two non-traditional characters next to each other, for example). Copy will copy everything in the Characters to copy box.

character map copy

Note also here that in the bottom right you are given the keystroke or ASCII code Alt+0233 which you can use as a keyboard shortcut (more on that again later).

Once you’ve copied your character, you can paste it into pretty much any text box you want to, here in Twitter:

Inserting character into Twitter

 Using ASCII codes / keyboard shortcuts / Alt+ to insert special characters

The way I insert special and non-standard characters is to use these Alt+ ASCII keyboard shortcut codes that I’ve been mentioning all the way through this post. Hit Alt-0233 and you’ll get an é without having to click all over the screen, copy and paste. There’s a code for almost every character you could think of.

How do I know a load of these off by heart? Because I used to be a cataloguer at a library, and one of the things I did was catalogue foreign language publications, which were full of diacritics and non-standard characters. So, every day I would end up needing to insert many of these characfers into the cataloguing program we used. I, and everyone else, had little handwritten notes of the ones we used regularly. Here’s mine (yes, when I left the library in December 2011 to do this Libro stuff and blogging full time, I took my little bit of paper with me):

Alt+ codes notes

So there’s a little bit of Liz history you weren’t expecting (ignore the MARC codes at the bottom unless you’re a librarian, too). You, too, can have a bit of paper like this if you use non-traditional characters a lot – or you’ll commit them to memory, as I ended up doing.

How can I find out the ASCII codes for special characters?

You can use one of the two methods I describe above:

  • In Word: Insert – Symbol, drop down From to change it to ASCII and note the Character code
  • In Character Map: click on the symbol and look at the bottom right of the dialog box

or you can search for it online …

In this post, we’ve learned why we might use special characters and how to insert special characters in Word, Twitter, Facebook and any other places that you might want to insert text. If you liked this or found it useful, do please comment below and/or use the sharing buttons to share it! Thank you!

Related posts on this blog:

ASCII codes for common special characters

1 Comment

Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , , ,

How do I display the top and side rulers in Word?

The top and side rulers in Word are used to set your margins, and also any Indents you might require for your paragraphs. They should display by default. If they don’t, here are instructions on how to make them display.

If you can’t see the rulers, click on the View Ruler button at the top of your right-hand scroll bar:

view ruler in word

This will display both of your rulers, and you can use the sliders to adjust your margins:

Rulers display in word

To turn off the rulers, simply press that button again, and they will disappear!

Other relevant articles on this blog:

Indents and Margins.

I hope you’ve found these hints helpful! Do share or pop a comment on this post if I’ve helped you learn something new or solved a tricky problem for you, and do explore the rest of my blog if this is your first visit!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here


Tags: , , , ,

How do I change from having a gap between paragraphs to indenting them?

I’ve written this post because one of my clients just asked me how to do exactly this. She had a document where the paragraphs had an automatic line space between them, and no indent (because I’d produced the document and that’s how I like to lay out paragraphs), and she wanted to change it to have no line space between paragraphs, and the first line of the paragraph indented.

This article draws on two that I’ve already published, so for more detail, you might want to look at my posts on The Line Space Button and Indents and Margins. But what you’ll find here is a quick guide to changing your paragraph format from spaces between paragraphs to indented paragraphs (and vice versa). Note that although they all look a little different, this works for Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 for PC.

How to remove automatic spacing between paragraphs

There are many reasons to remove automatic spacing between paragraphs. To mention a rather obscure reason, I produce transcriptions to accompany a client’s YouTube videos. The formatting for these requires that a manual line space is added between paragraphs, but my version of Word adds these automatic spaces as a default, so I have to take them out.

Here’s what a document with automatic line spacing between paragraphs looks like:

Paragraphs with automatic spacing

To remove the spaces, first of all you need to highlight all of the text where you’re going to change the format. This is best done by going to the Home tab, then going to the Edit area on the right and clicking on Select:

select all text in word

Once you’ve clicked on Select, you will get a choice of options which includes Select All. Click on this and your whole text will be highlighted:

option for select allOnce the text is all highlighted, making sure you don’t click on the text (which will deselect it), staying in the Home tab, go to the Paragraph section in the middle of the ribbon and click on the Line Spacing button, which looks like this:

line space button

remove space after paragraph

If you have automatic spaces between paragraphs, one of the two bottom options will read Remove Space Before/After Paragraph. In this case it’s after. Click on that option (and it will change to Add Space After Paragraph).

This will have the effect of removing the line spaces between your paragraphs:

paragraphs with no line space in between

How do I indent my paragraphs?

Keeping the text highlighted (or re-selecting All if you’ve accidentally clicked and lost the selection), move below the Ribbon to look at the rulers in your top margin.

(If you can’t see the rulers, click on the View Ruler button at the top of your right-hand scroll bar:)

view ruler in word

Once you can see your rulers, move only the top half of the left-hand margin marker rightwards across the page until you reach the indent position that you want:

setting indent in word

This will give you indented paragraphs with no line spaces between them!

indented paragraphs

Done! To get from indented paragraphs to paragraphs with gaps between them, you just need to reverse this process …

Other relevant articles on this blog:

The Line Space Button

Indents and Margins.

I hope you’ve found these hints helpful! Do share or pop a comment on this post if I’ve helped you learn something new or solved a tricky problem for you, and do explore the rest of my blog if this is your first visit!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here


Tags: , , , ,

How to change your editing language in Word 2013, Word 2010 and Word 2007

This post is linked to my one on changing the language of your document in Word, however I’ve split them up to avoid screenprint overload.

Incidentally, this process also solves the problem of the language not appearing in the lower status bar of your Word document. This language note will only appear if you have more than one language set as the editing language in Word options.

Why would I want to change my editing language?

The main thing I’ve used this for is to force the language to appear, thus be changeable, in the lower status bar of my Word document. However, it’s also used if you are intending on loading alternative alphabets into your version of Word, if you want to use it for Chinese or Russian, for example.

How do I change my editing language in Word 2013?

This is done in Word Options. Find your Word Options by clicking the File tab:

Finding Word Options in Word 2013

Now choose Options:

Word Options Word 2013 2010

Within the Word Options window, choose Language:

Word Options Language

Look at the Choose Editing Languages section. You can see that only English (United Kingdom) is on the list at the moment. Click on the dropdown arrow by Add additional editing languages:

Choose editing language Word

Select your editing language from the list …

Choosing editing language Word

Once it’s selected, click the Add button:

Adding editing language Word

Now English (United States) has been added to the list – press the OK button at the bottom of the window:

Editing language added Word

What else can I change in the language section?

You will notice that you can also change the display and screentip languages on this screen, as well as asking Word to prompt you if you need to download any special proofing tools. This is useful if someone who only speaks a different language to the default is going to be using this copy of Word (of course, this is all changing this individual copy of Word and does not affect the document if it’s opened on different computers).

Making the changes take effect

You will now be prompted to Restart Word in order for the change to take effect. Press the OK button and close and re-open Word.

Restart Word

This process has the incidental effect of displaying the language of your document in the lower status bar in your copy of Word – and this is the way to make it display if it doesn’t do so initially.

Language displayed on lower status bar

How do I change the editing language in Word 2010?

Good news – the method of changing the editing language in Word 2010 is almost the same as in Word 2013 (above). The Word Options menu just appears slightly differently, in different colours and a slightly different layout.

Click on the File tab and then choose Options.

Word Options Word 2010

From now on, the process is exactly the same as for Word 2013 (above).

How do I change the editing language in Word 2007?

The process for changing the editing language is a bit different for Word 2007.

Access Word Options by clicking on the Office Button in the top left, then clicking on Word Options at the bottom of the window:

Word Options Word 2007

Stay on the Popular screen that comes up first, and click on Language Settings at the bottom of this screen:

Word 2007 change language

Now you have the option to enable and disable editing languages. Click on the language you want to add in the list on the left and press the Add button. Then click OK.

13 language Word 2007

In this article, we have learned how to change the editing language in Word 2013, Word 2010 and Word 2007. Do comment or use the buttons below to share if you’ve found this useful. Many thanks to Krys Williams for her help.

Related posts in this blog

How to change the language of your document in Word

How to change the language of comments

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here

1 Comment

Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Word


Tags: , , ,

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Do I need editing or proofreading - pens and inkNew authors who come to me for editing or proofreading services are often confused about the difference between the two. This is probably because what we in the business call ‘editing’ is called ‘proofreading’ in the outside world. But they are two different things, and this article aims to help you to choose which service you need.

Do you need line / copy editing, substantive editing or proofreading services? Read on to find out the difference and work out whether you need to ask your editor (whether that’s me or somebody else) for proofreading or editing?

What is editing?

Editing is all about the words and content of your book – not its layout and presentation.

Editing is usually done in Word, using the Track Changes feature so that your editor can mark up suggested deletions, additions and changes, as well as making comments about various aspects of the text, and you can see exactly what they’re suggesting and choose whether you accept or reject the changes.

What is line editing / copy-editing / editing?

Line editing, or straight editing (which most people think of as ‘proofreading’ is done, as I said, in a Word document version of your book.

It covers identification and resolution of:

  • typos
  • spelling mistakes
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • sentence structure (repetitive structures, etc.)
  • wording (repetitive word use, etc.)
  • consistent spelling / hyphenation / capitalisation throughout the text
  • comments where wording is unclear and suggestions about changes

Ask for editing / line editing if … your book has been written by you and you’ve gone over it at least once yourself, and had your beta readers read the book for flow, characters, plot, etc. It’s the stage before preparing the book for publication and will make sure that everything’s correct and consistent as far as it can be.

Note that in English, many of these areas do not have a strict right or wrong, especially in terms of capitalisation and even some spellings, and things like use of -ise- and -ize- spellings. Your editor should create a style sheet for the project, which lists the editing system they use (e.g. Oxford, Chicago Manual of Style etc.) and any choices they made within the text.

What is substantive editing?

Substantive editing means your editor digs around in the very substance of the book, looking at aspects such as:

  • Characterisation
  • Plot
  • Flow
  • Timelines
  • Missing or repetitive sections

Your editor will typically go through and mark up with comments, they may also produce a report on the book as a whole with suggestions for changes – which may be major or minor

Ask for substantive editing if … this is your first novel, you haven’t had it beta-read yet, it’s a long and complicated work and/or you need a thorough going-through of the book. This will often be more expensive than line-editing, and it doesn’t include the items listed under line-editing – it’s hard for an editor to see the wood AND the trees at the same time, so if you have a substantive edit, you will probably need a line edit at some stage, too.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is generally done just before the book is published (in print or electronic form). It concentrates on the look and layout of the book more than its content (this is why you have an edit done first, then a proofread).

Proofreading is carried out on the final form of a book, often a pdf or maybe a printed version, and the mark-up will be done using pdf marking-up software or pencil marks in your print copy.

Proofreading covers identification and resolution of:

  • Book layout – does each chapter start on a right-hand page in the print version?
  • Page numbers and headers – do the page numbers run consecutively? Do running headers reference the appropriate chapter title? Are footers correct?
  • Contents pages and indexes – does the contents page include the correct page numbers for each chapter start?
  • Page layout – are there any odd gaps on the pages, is there a heading on one page and its paragraph on the next? Are any illustrations correctly placed and referenced? Are any footnotes correctly laid out?
  • Paragraph layout – are three any odd gaps or spaces between paragraphs? Have words that belong in the same paragraph got separated? Are all paragraphs in the appropriately sized font?
  • Consistency – a final check that numbers, dates, heading styles, hyphenation etc are consistent (using the style sheet that the editor created as a guide)

It would be extremely difficult to do a full edit at proofreading stage because, as with line and substantive editing, your editor/proofreader is looking for different things. It is also best to have a different person do your proofread than the person who edited your book – for the same reason that no one can really edit their own work: they will be too familiar with the text and are more likely to miss errors.

So do I need an editor or a proofreader?

This is the basic order in which the process goes:

  1. Write the book – author
  2. Edit the book – author
  3. Substantive edit – by an editor
  4. Edit the book based on the substantive edit – author
  5. Beta read – friends, family, other people in your industry / genre
  6. Edit the book based on the beta read – author
  7. Line edit / edit / copy-edit – by an editor
  8. Edit the book based on the line edit
  9. Prepare book for publication – author or book designer / formatter / both
  10. Proofread – by a proofreader
  11. Edit the book based on the proofread (may need to go back to designer / formatter)
  12. Publish

Other resources on this blog:

Copyediting and proofreading

Working with track changes

Proofreading as a career

If you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful, please share it using the buttons below.


Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Copyediting, proofreading, Word, Writing


Tags: , ,

How to change the language of your Word 2007, 2010 or 2013 document

This article tells you how to change the language of your document in Word 2007, 2010 or 2013.

Why would I want to change the language of my Word document?

The language that is set for your Word document sets the language in which the spelling and grammar checks work. If you are working, say, at a university that uses UK English, and you use a version of Word that’s set for US English, when you run a spell check (or if you ask Word to highlight errors as you go along), the spelling will default to American English. You will submit your document in the incorrect version of the language. This can really matter if you’re instructed to use one particular version, and will matter more as you move into submitting articles for journals (which may specify either version of English) or working for a company that uses British or American spelling as standard.

If you’re working in the field of localisation, or even just, as I used to, writing documents for the US and UK markets simultaneously, making sure that the language set for your document matches the language you’re working in means that you can run final checks and make sure that you’re using the appropriate spelling.

If your document has come from another country which uses a language other than English, for example if you’re working on a document prepared by a translator working out of their own language, you really need to change the language to English before you start editing it, or when you run a final spell check, every word will be highlighted and confusion will ensue.

So it’s important to make sure that the language of your document matches the language in which you wish to work. I receive many documents to proofread which are set for US English but are for a student at a UK university – a quick set of actions is all that it takes, but I fear that students will be penalised if they use the inappropriate spellings for the context.

How do I view and change the language in my document?

In Word, the language that is set for your document should appear in the lower status bar of your document:

1 language on status bar

From here, you can easily change the language of selected text or the whole document (see below). But first we’ll look at how to add this useful display if it’s not showing.

How do I make the language display on my status bar?

If the language isn’t showing on your status bar and you want to see it there, right-click anywhere on the lower status bar. A menu should appear with lots of options to tick. Any item that is ticked will appear on the status bar – this is also useful if you want to view your word count there.

2 add language on status bar

Click on Language or tick the tick-box next to it, and your language will appear for ever more in the bottom status bar.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the status bar display?

First you need to highlight the text whose language you want to change.

You might want to highlight parts of the document (for example if it’s a dual translation in two languages and you just want to set one to UK English, or it’s a localisation and you just want to change one column of a two-column original and target language table), keeping the control key pressed down if you want to select several individual blocks of text.

If you want to change the language of the whole document, go to the Home tab and choose Select to the very right of the tab, then Select All:

3 select text

(or you might press the Select All button on your Quick Access Toolbar if you’ve added it there (marked with an arrow on the screenshot above) – see my article on Adding Buttons to the QAT if you need to know how to do that).

Once you’ve highlighted the text for which you want to set the language, click on the language display in the bottom status bar and choose your language:

4 select language

Note: Do not check spelling or grammar has a blue square next to it. Click in this square twice so that first a tick, then nothing, appears in the square.

Now click on OK. Your language will have changed to the language you selected.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the menus in the ribbon?

If you don’t choose to display the language in the lower status bar, you can access it via the menus in the ribbon at the top of the screen instead. This works slightly differently in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, so I’ll show you screenshots of all three.

In Word 2007, choose the Review tab and then Set Language in the Proofing section:

5 menus 2007

In Word 2010, choose the Review tab, then the Language button in the Language section, and click Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2010

In Word 2013, again, choose the Review tab, Language section, Language button and Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2013

For Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, once you’ve clicked on the relevant button, you will see the dialogue box for changing the language: select your language, remembering to click the blue square next to Do not check spelling and grammar once, twice, so there’s a tick then nothing:

7 select language

How do I make the language appear in the lower status bar of my document?

You may find yourself unable to display the language in the lower status bar, however much you right click and tell Word to display it. Please pop over to this article if you’re having this problem, where you will find screen prints that will walk you through the process.

How do I change the language in my comments balloons?

You may find that the language in your comments balloons remains the original language of the document. If you need to change the language in your comments, see this article.


In this article, I’ve shown you how to change the language of your Word document. If you have found this useful, please leave a comment and click on the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Related posts on this blog:

How to change the language of comments

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

What to do when you encounter plagiarism: business content

PlagiarismThis post is for editors who suspect that they might have encountered some deliberate or accidental plagiarism when dealing with content for their business clients, particularly in regard to websites and blog content. By sharing my tips and practices, I hope that I can gather a resource of best practices for other editors / proofreaders.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else’s work off as your own. In the business world, this usually involves copying someone else’s content, word for word, without linking back to the original work or acknowledging that it has come from elsewhere.

I’ve noticed that I and colleagues are fairly often confronted with content to edit that has  been pulled wholesale from another (often rival) website, used word for word without attribution. That would be stolen. It’s found most often, in my experience, in business marketing content such as websites and blogs. Note that I have written about plagiarism in student work in another article.

Plagiarism in the business world

Why is plagiarism bad? Two reasons:

  1. If you steal someone else’s content, you are liable to be found out, either by a prospective client who is looking at several different websites in one business area, or by the originator of the content, who may be alerted by a search service such as Google Alerts or plagiarism-detecting software such as Copyscape (thanks Arlene Prunkel for the heads-up; she has blogged about her own experiences using this software).
  2. Using the exact same wording in two places alerts the search engines that something is amiss. It’s never clear exactly how the algorithms work, but you run the risk of your content not being indexed and found anyway.

Why is not flagging plagiarism bad for the editor?

  1. OK, we haven’t signed a Hippocratic Oath of Editing or anything, but it’s the job of a principled and decent editor not to allow plagiarism to happen – surely?
  2. Someone finds out that a site you’ve edited has plagiarised their content. You let it pass unmentioned. The plagiariser says, “Oh, my editor didn’t flag it up”, and the finger starts to point at you.

What form does business web content plagiarism take?

As with student plagiarism, business plagiarism can be deliberate or accidental – or a mixture of the two.

Deliberate plagiarism

I’ve edited web text where the style and content varies so much that it’s clear that it’s come from different sources. Sometimes the client is clear about this, “Oh, I picked it up from various places, it doesn’t matter, does it?” Yes, it does.

On other occasions, I’ve been given a link to a single blog post or article, or perhaps a web page, usually by necessity published by the client’s rival, and been asked to “rewrite this so it doesn’t look like we’ve used their words”. Not ethical.

Deliberate or accidental plagiarism

Sometimes it’s not clear whether a client realises that you’re not supposed to lift text wholesale from another place. So it’s important not to pour scorn or invoke human rights and laws, but to quietly educate.

Accidental plagiarism

Very often, a client or indeed other blogger won’t realise that reposting the whole of an article or web page, with a reference or link at the bottom, will prejudice the search engines against them and lead to their content not being indexed. Here, it’s useful to drop them a line to suggest that they only post a few lines of the original with a link to where it can be found in full. Link-backs all round and happily shared content!

What to do when you encounter plagiarism in business texts

I have a sliding scale of activities depending on the level of plagiarism and overtness about the plagiarism:

Here’s what I do to avoid my clients plagiarising on their websites and blogs:

  • If I find lots of reposted blog content which is referenced, I will have a quiet word about posting teasers and links instead.
  • If I suspect content has been lifted from elsewhere, I’ll pop a few sentences into Google and see if I can find the source. Then I’ll raise the issue with the client by marking the sections or just emailing them to ask if they had permission to quote the source. I’ll then suggest that they rewrite it (or have it rewritten) using a variety of sources.
  • If a client has quoted an industry leader or other person but not referenced where they got those quotes, and it’s clearly not from a direct conversation, I will advise them that they should quote their sources in a source list or footnote or link.
  • If I am asked to rewrite one blog post or web page to make it suitable for the client, I will go back to them and either offer to research the topic myself or ask for a list of suitable resources from which to research it (which can then be referenced in the text)

I will always explain why plagiarising is a bad idea and the effects it can have on their business, reputation and search engine results. Most clients understand the issues once they’re explained: any that ask me to continue helping them to plagiarise whatever will become ex-clients. I can’t risk being associated with this kind of activity, and I don’t wish to be implicated in any scandals, plus it’s against my ethics to promote or encourage plagiarism.

I’ve talked here about strategies for dealing with plagiarism in business texts. If you have any other practices you’d like to share, please do submit a comment below!

Related posts on this blog:

What to do when you encounter plagiarism: student work

Top 10 blogging sins

My terms and conditions


Tags: , , , , ,

What to do when you encounter plagiarism: student work

PlagiarismThis post is for editors who suspect that they might have come across deliberate or accidental plagiarism, or are concerned that they are doing “too much” and thus causing their client to unwittingly engage in plagiarism. By sharing how I approach this, and asking for comments, I hope I can gather together a resource of best practices for other editors / proofreaders.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is, at its most basic, the act of passing someone else’s work off as your own. It usually involves copying someone else’s work, text, content, however you want to describe it, without pointing out that  you’ve copied it or referencing it back to the original work.

In my work, plagiarism is found most often in student work and business marketing content such as websites and blogs. This post is about student work, and I discuss business content in another post.

Plagiarism in academic work

Plagiarism is, unfortunately, rife in academic work. You can kind of understand it: students are under a lot of pressure, and overseas students in particular can have a lot of financial pressure from their funders to return home with a good degree and pick up a high-level job. With courses over-subscribed and A-levels often not preparing students for the rigours of academic work, the student may not understand that they are not supposed to use other people’s work unattributed, although universities do provide them with reams of paper and things to sign which are intended to explain and prevent plagiarism.

I tend to find two kinds of plagiarism, deliberate and accidental:

Deliberate plagiarism

I’ve come across some pretty shocking examples of deliberate plagiarism in my work. This includes sections marked in a different colour, with a note in the covering email: “Can you please rewrite the sections I’ve highlighted”. More heartrending are the examples where the author says to me, “My English is not good enough to rewrite the parts from other authors, please help me to rewrite them”. But I can’t.

Deliberate or accidental plagiarism

I often come across direct quotations used as if they are the author’s own words. Unfortunately, to the experienced editor, it becomes all-too-clear when a direct quotation is being used without being referenced. Here are some markers of the unattributed block of text that I’ve found:

  • The language changes subtly: more multi-syllable words, different kinds of linking words used
  • The standard of the English becomes markedly higher, with no corrections needed to be made (even if you miss these as you go along, the island of white in a sea of coloured corrections and highlights stands out as you look at the page)
  • The language changes from American to British English or vice versa (many students are inconsistent in their spellings, but a block of the opposite type of English is a real giveaway)
  • The font, size or colour of the text, or the indentation, line spacing or justification changes – a classic case of copy and paste

Sometimes you can give the student the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe they meant to rewrite and reference and forgot. Maybe they didn’t realise that they couldn’t use blocks of text like this. But it doesn’t mean that it can go unmarked.

Accidental plagiarism

I would count accidental plagiarism as a case where a student who has clearly rewritten ideas taken from other texts and referenced direct quotations and such ideas misses off a reference after a piece of text that is clearly from someone else. Of course, the cases above may be accidental, too, but they do still need to be addresses, as does the odd missed reference.

Plagiarism by the editor

There’s another form of plagiarism which the editor must resist themselves: rewriting so much of the text that it’s the editor who has in effect written the text, and not the student. I talk about how I avoid that below.

What to do when you encounter plagiarism in student work

It’s our duty as decent and principled editors to flag up plagiarism when we find it and help our student customers to realise how they should be referencing and when they’ve made a mistake. It is not our job to rewrite text or make so many corrections and suggestions that we have in effect written the essay ourselves. There are plenty of dodgy proofreading companies out there that will do that (and essay writing companies that will sell students ready-written essays), but as a decent editor, you should not be involved in those sorts of practices.

If you don’t flag up these problems, it is likely that the essay will be run through the university’s plagiarism software and that will flag them up to serious effect (many students know this, and that’s why they might ask us to rewrite sections for them). If you’re concerned about returning work to a student with plagiarism noted and discussed, remember that you’re saving them from possible penalties or even expulsion from their course if they continue to plagiarise and attempt to pass others’ work off as their own, even if you’re not concerned about helping people to obtain qualifications fraudulently.

Here’s what I do to avoid helping the student to commit plagiarism by passing off my own words as their own:

  • I always work with Track Changes turned on and instruct the student to check each change and accept or reject it themselves. Yes, I know they can press “Accept all changes”, but I send them instructions on how to work with Track Changes that don’t include this option.
  • I will delete, add and rearrange only if either the words are all correct but the order is incorrect, or the order is correct but the tenses are incorrect. You soon get a feel for the light touch needed to bring writing up to a clear output without rewriting.
  • If a sentence is obviously wrong in terms of content, I will insert a comment and advise the student to check the correctness of the content.
  • If a sentence is so garbled as to not make sense, I will insert a comment and ask the student to rewrite it.
  • If a sentence could mean one of two things, I will insert a comment to suggest the two opposite meanings and ask which they mean.
  • I am clear in my terms and conditions on this website and in my initial text to the student that this is how I operate.
  • When dealing with a bibliography, I will make small amendments to isolated errors in punctuation or order, usually up to about 10% of entries. If more than 10% of entries are not formatted according to the rules the student has sent me, or are completely chaotic, I stop editing the bibliography and insert a comment to remind the student that the bibliography is supposed to demonstrate their skill and knowledge, so they must work on it themselves.

Here’s what I do to stop the student plagiarising:

  • If I find the odd missed reference for a direct quotation, I will highlight the offending quotation and insert a comment reading “Reference required”.
  • If I find the odd obvious copy and paste which has not been referenced, I will highlight the offending sentences and insert a comment reading “Reference required”.
  • If I find an isolated substantial section which has clearly or even possibly been lifted from another source, I usually copy a few sentences and pop it in a Google search to see whether I can find the original. Then I will highlight the section and insert a comment along the lines of “This appears to come from another source without being referenced. Mark as a direct quotation and reference, or rewrite in your own words and reference”.
  • If I find several substantial sections like the above, I will stop editing and write to the student advising that much of the text has been lifted from other sources without being referenced, this is plagiarism and they need to address the issues.
  • If I find anything more than the odd missed reference to a direct quotation, I will mention the referencing issue in my covering email when returning the work, to ensure that the student is reminded to reference all direct and indirect quotations (thanks to Liam for his comment below reminding me that I do this).

What if the student says it’s OK to rewrite their work?

Sometimes when I return work to a student advising that it’s risking plagiarism to have me continue working on their text (usually because of the level of changes I’m having to make to the text rather than lifting work from other writers), they will come back to me to say that their supervisor / tutor says that it’s OK to do this amount of rewriting.

If they do this, I request that their tutor writes to me telling me it is OK to engage in this level of correction. I require this letter to be on headed paper, signed by the supervisor and scanned in and emailed to me. This hasn’t happened very often; when it has, I have contacted the supervisor to check, and continued with the work. I have saved the scanned letter alongside my copy of the student’s work in case of any comeback.

This article has outlined what I do when I encounter plagiarism in student work. I have resources on this website about plagiarism (listed below) which I am happy for you to reference if you need to (but not copy!). If you have other ways of overcoming this issue, please do submit a comment!

Related posts on this blog:

Plagiarism in business texts

On plagiarism

How to quote sources without plagiarising

Referencing for academic writing

Choosing a proofreader – student edition

My terms and conditions

Why has my proofreader not edited my bibliography?

On (not) crossing the line


Tags: , , , , ,

How to use Find and Replace in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 2: Advanced Find

Hopefully, you’ve already read about simple Find and Replace in Word in my earlier post. In this article, I’m going to show you some of the Advanced Find features to do with word forms, wildcards and where you’re actually searching. Handily enough, these are the same in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013. For hints on replacing, see the previous article, and for finding formats, look out for my next post in this series (I will link it to this post once it’s live). I’m going to start by discussing the three different options for viewing the results of a simple Find search in Word 2010 and 2013, then move on to the Advanced Find options in all three versions.

Find options in Word 2010 and Word 2013 (Navigation)

When  you hit Ctrl-F to Find in Word 2010 and 2013, you are shown the Navigation side panel. This gives you three options for viewing the results of your simple search (i.e. you’ve searched for just a word or phrase, no whole word only or match case options applied).

The first tab on the left gives you the Outline view – if you have headings in your document, it will give you a run-down of those,and highlight in yellow where your search term appears. The search term “localisation” has been input into the search box at the top.

Word 2010 simple find options 1

The second tab gives you a Page view, showing only the pages that the search term appears on (you will see that it’s displaying pages 5, 6 and 14 here) with the search term highlighted.

Word 2010 simple find options 2

The third tab along gives you the Paragraph view, and this is the one that I find most useful, as it shows you the search term in its context. Click on the box and you’ll navigate to that place in the text. As you can see here, the word has also been highlighted in the actual text, and this is true for all of these views. This paragraph view is the most useful for seeing where you’ve used a word and deciding whether to change it.

Word 2010 simple find options 3

Now we’re going to look at some of the Advanced Find options. You can get to Advanced Find by clicking on the More button in Word 2007’s Search box, or by clicking the down arrow by the search input field and choosing Advanced Find in Word 2010 or 2013. Note, in Word 2010 and 2013, you can click on Options after clicking the down arrow, but that isn’t as specialised or useful as choosing Advanced Find.

If you’re confused about how to find the Advanced Find dialogue boxes, read this post for screen shots and explanations.

Advanced Find options: Find In

The Find In option allows you to specify where exactly you want to look for your search term. This is particularly useful if you are looking for something you or someone else has said in the Comments area of the text, or indeed the footnotes. Here I have a document with a main text, Comments and footnotes. I use the dropdown arrow next to Find In to access my options:

Advanced find options 1 find in

Whichever of these options you choose, it will only search in that area, saving time and narrowing down your search to exactly what you’re looking for.

Advanced Find options: Match case

Match case is extremely useful if you are only looking for a particular form of a word. For example, I might want to catch the instances where I’ve started a sentence with “And”. If I just search for “and” with no other options set, Word will usefully highlight all instances of the word. I’ve highlighted the one that I’m looking for in green here, but you can see how hard it would be to find amidst a sea of and … and … and. Note that I typed the word in with a capital letter, but unless I tell Word to take account of that, it will ignore it, and treat And, and, aNd, ANd, Andy, understanding, etc. all the same (to get rid of those last two, see the next section).

Advanced find options 2 no options

Tick the Match case box and it’s a different story. Now it’s only looking for And with a capital A. Note how the line under the search box includes a note of the option that I’ve selected:

Advanced find options 3 match case

Advanced Find: Find whole words only

As we saw briefly above, search for “and” without ticking any additional options, and Word will find the letters “and” however they may be capitalised and wherever they will be. Here, a search for and highlights the word understanding, too.

This can be really annoying, especially if you’re searching for a word that can appear as part of other words (like under, or stand!) and you want to do a Replace All on them or just find when you’ve used that particular word, not its compound. This is what happens when you don’t choose any options:

Advanced find options 4 no options

To stop this happening, tick the box next to Find whole words only. Now Word will only find the word “and” as a discrete word:

Advanced find options 5 whole words only

Note: you can use these two options together. For example, search for But using Match case and Find whole word only and you will limit what you find to sentences beginning with the word “But”, instead of all the examples of but in the middle of sentences and sentences beginning with “Butterflies” or “Butter” …

Advanced Find options: Wildcards

Lots of people know about the above two options, but Wildcards can seem a little alarming to the novice or even quite experienced Word user. Wildcards allow you to search very precisely for different forms or spellings of a word.

To use Wildcards in your search, tick the Wildcard option.

Advanced find options 7 wildcards

If you already know the special character to use in your Wildcard search, type your search term in the search box. If you need to check which special character to use, click on the Special dropdown on the button at the bottom of the screen. This will give you a huge range of choices for narrowing down your search:

Advanced find options 8 wildcards

In this case, I’m looking for words beginning with “localis”, so I choose the Beginning of Word option from the list:

Advanced find options 9 wildcards

Word inserts the special character in the search input box, and finds all of the words beginning with “localis”:

Advanced find options 10 wildcards

Now, you could just do a basic search for a bit of a word, but that’s only useful if the selection of letters you’re looking for all occur together. In the example above, we’re looking at the letters appearing at the beginning of a word, but what if you’re looking for a word and you can’t remember how you spelled it, or you fear you sometimes used an s and sometimes a z in “organisation”? Use the question mark option and search for “organi?ation” and you will find both spellings.

Note, there are many further special characters here apart from the ones used for Wildcards (which are ? – < and >) – I will be covering some of the most useful of those in future posts.

Advanced Find options: a note on Sounds like and Find all word forms

The two options at the bottom of the list can look quite tempting. But I will be honest and say that I don’t use them in my everyday work (if you do, please comment and share why you find them useful!).

Sounds like is the more useful of the two. It only works for the English language (presumably if you’ve bought a UK or US copy of Word) and it does what it says it does, finding words that sound like the word that you have entered.

Here I’ve searched for “Localize” and it has found the words that I would be looking for. They’re not spelled the same, but they do sound the same.

Advanced find options 11 sounds like

However, Find all word forms does NOT find “localisation” in the same piece of text, so I’d be careful about using this one (in fact, try not to), as it will miss out words from your search:

Advanced find options 12 all word forms

In this article, we’ve learned how to use some of the more advanced features of the Find function in Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 in order to be able to look for the correct, specialised word in our document, including being able to choose where in the document it is and choosing fewer or more examples of words containing the letters we’re searching for.

If you’ve found this useful, please take a moment to share it, using the buttons under the article, or send me a comment, as I love hearing from my readers and knowing that I’ve helped! Thank you!


This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all of the short cuts here

Related posts on this blog:

How to use Find and Replace 1 – basic find and replace


Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,455 other followers