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What is a style sheet? For people using editors

DictionariesIf you work with a proofreader or editor on any project, either for a publisher or working independently or as a student, you might receive a Style Sheet from them with your corrected work. This article explains what a style sheet is, the purpose of a style sheet, and what might be included on it. I’ve also written this article to send to my clients so they understand what the document I’ve sent them is – so if you’re one of my clients, hello!

To make this article easier to read, I will refer to the person who has worked on your document as your “editor” – although I might refer to proofreaders in some places, too.

If you’re an editor or proofreader who wants to find out more about style sheets, I’ve written an article just for you, too.

What is a style sheet?

A style sheet is a list setting out the decisions that your editor has made on aspects of the layout and language of your document, in order to keep the document consistent.

It might include notes on what font is used, whether the text is left or fully justified, how particular words are capitalised or hyphenated, how much indent your indented quotations have, what is put in italics, etc. We’ll have a look at an example later on, but that’s a very short summary.

Why use a style sheet?

Especially if you’ve learned English as a second or other language, you will know that the English language is not consistent, and it doesn’t even have proper rules for some things! This can be really frustrating, as two people might do things in two different ways, BOTH of which are correct.

For example, in English …

  • we can use -s- spellings or -z- spellings in words like “organisation”
  • we can capitalise or not capitalise words like Chapter 1 or experiment 2
  • we can use orient or orientate
  • we can hyphenate or not hyphenate pairs of words like policy-maker

And that’s before you get to decisions like …

  • are you going to use 20%, 20 per cent or twenty per cent?
  • are you going to describe America as America, the United States, the US, the USA, the U.S. etc. etc.?
  • are you going to use double inverted commas for quotations and single inverted commas for concepts, or vice versa?
  • are you going to refer to other research as (Brown, 2003; Green and Jones, 2005, p. 23) or (Brown 2003, Green & Jones 2005:23) or any other variant

Now, the important thing with all of these is to keep it consistent.

Some of these rules might be set down in a style guide or referencing guide (see below). But whether you and your editor are working to a style guide or not, it’s useful to have these decisions written down in one place for you both to refer to.

What’s the difference between a style guide, a referencing guide and a style sheet?

A style guide is a specific guide to how to deal with things like the above decisions – famous ones include Oxford Style in the UK, APA Style and Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook in the US.

A referencing guide is a specific way of writing out references to work you are talking about in your dissertation or book – an example is Harvard referencing.

Some universities and many publishers and marketing agencies etc. will have their own guides which documents published under their name or submitted to them will have to have.

In this case, I could do without a style sheet and just refer my client to … well, a massive website or a giant book. Maybe not. In that case, I’ll note which style guide or referencing system I’ve used and still write out any important points which will impact the document in question.

Please note that I (and I imagine most editors) have favourite style decisions – I prefer orientate to orient, for example, and where there is no clear preference in the text, I will go for my preferred option. If, however, the text itself has 33 orients and 2 orientates, I will go with the majority.

This also means that some parts of the following examples might jar with any editors reading this – they are only examples!

What does a style sheet look like?

Here’s an example style sheet with some of the decisions I might make …

style sheet 1

This is a standard style sheet – I tend to go from the general (the whole layout, all quotations, the tenses used) down to the particular …

style sheet 2

What should I do with the style sheet my editor has sent to me?

Good question – now you understand why your editor has sent you a style sheet and what it’s for … well, why does it matter and what should you do with it?

Here are some important uses of the style sheet:

  1. It will help you to understand some of the changes your editor has made.
  2. If your editor has just edited one chapter, they might send you the style sheet with that chapter and ask you to look through it and check you agree with everything on it. They might even send over some queries – if it’s not clear which option my client prefers, I will highlight the choice and ask them to look at it. If you don’t agree, let them know straight away, then they might change it if it’s not a rule of grammar that can’t be flexible.
  3. If your work is going to be edited by more than one person, they will share a style sheet to make sure it is edited consistently.
  4. If you are planning to add to the document, you can make sure that any additional text you write is consistent with the text that your editor has already checked.
  5. If you have been through edits and your document is going to be proofread, send the style sheet to your proofreader, then they will know what choices the editor has made, and will be able to look out for any errors much more easily.

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In this article, we’ve learned what a style sheet is, why it’s used, how a style sheet is different from a style guide and referencing guide, but backs them up, and what to do with a style sheet when you’ve been sent one, as well as seeing an example of one. I hope this helps you: do comment and/or share this article using the sharing buttons below if you’ve found it useful!

Other relevant posts on this blog

Style sheets for editors and proofreaders

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in Copyediting, proofreading, Students, Writing

 

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How do I change my initials in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013?

Your name and initials appear in the File Properties of your Word document, and also in any comments that you make on a document, plus in the text that appears when someone hovers over text that you’ve added or deleted. So it’s important that it’s right – usually Word pulls this over from your registration details, but you may wish to change it, for example if you want to add a general company or team name and initials rather than your own. Here’s how!

You will find the option to change your initials and name in Word Options. Word Options are accessed slightly differently in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, so I will break this down by the version of Word that you’re using:

How do I change my initials in Word 2007?

Access Word Options by clicking the Office button at top left, then Word Options at the bottom:

1 word options 2007

Your Word Options box will open on the Popular tab and you can now change your name and initials:

1 2007

How do I change my initials in Office 2010?

Click on the File tab and select Options:

2 word options 2010

Click on Options, and you can change your name and initials:

2 2010

How do I change my initials in Word 2013?

First click on the File tab:

3a word options 2013

Select Options at the bottom of the list (use the arrow in a circle at the top left to get back to your document):

3b word options 2013

Click on Options and change your initials and name:

3 2013

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

Do let me know if this has helped you – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing

 

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How do I access Word Options in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013?

Word Options is the place where you customise the look of your Word document, how it corrects your words as you type away, the spell checker, your initials on any comments and the document properties, etc. It’s a great place to explore and enables you to customise Word and get it exactly how you want it.

However, it does work slightly differently in the three most commonly used versions of Word for PC: Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, so here’s a quick guide to how to access Word Options in these different versions of Word.

How to access the Word Options in Word 2007:

Click on the Office button in the top left of the screen, then click on Word Options at the bottom of the box:

1 word options 2007

Your Word Options box will now display:

1b word options 2007

How to access the Word Options in Office 2010:

In Word 2010, click on the File tab and then select Options, one up from the bottom of the list on the left hand side:

2 word options 2010

Once you’ve clicked on Options, your Word Options box will appear:

4 trust center

How to access Word Options in Word 2013:

In Word 2013, click on the File tab:

3a word options 2013

This has the effect of making your screen disappear, but you will get a list of things to do, out of which you select Options at the very bottom of the list (you can click that left-pointing arrow in a circle at the top left to get back to your document):

3b word options 2013

Clicking on Options will bring up the Options box:

3c word options 2013

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

Do let me know if this has helped you – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing

 

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Help – my Word comment box initials keep changing

comment balloonI had a query about this issue the other day and found there were no blog posts about it. Now there are.

My correspondent was busy adding comments to a document. Each time he did so, his initials appeared in the comment box, as they do (I will post soon on how to change your initials in your comment boxes). But each time he pressed Save, the initials changed back to “A”. Why?

Well, I went to look and it took me and a friend searching to find a rather obscure help forum that explained what was happening! So here’s what you do to stop the initials in your comment balloons changing by themselves in Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013.

Why do the initials in my comment balloons keep changing every time I press Save?

The reason for your own initials disappearing is that Word is carefully applying a rule called “Remove personal information from file properties on save”. The properties are details attached to your document about who created and edited the document. And how do you change this?

Go into Word Options.The way into this differs for Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, although fortunately all of these routes end up in pretty well the same place, so …

Accessing Word Options in Word 2007:

Click on the Office button in the top left of the screen, then click on Word Options at the bottom of the box:

1 word options 2007

Accessing Word Options in Office 2010:

In Word 2010, click on the File tab and then select Options, one up from the bottom of the list on the left hand side:

2 word options 2010

Accessing Word Options in Word 2013:

In Word 2013, click on the File tab:

3a word options 2013

This has the effect of making your screen disappear, but you will get a list of things to do, out of which you select Options at the very bottom of the list (you can click that left-pointing arrow in a circle at the top left to get back to your document):

3b word options 2013

Accessing the Trust Center

The Options screen that will now come up is very similar in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, so I’m going to use screenshots from Word 2010 as a middle way from now on – the others differ slightly, but you will still see the same options to choose from.

4 trust center

From here, click on Trust Center and then Trust Center Settings:

5 trust center settings

Now select Privacy Options, and you should find an option “Remove personal information from file properties on save”. Note that if this is enabled, it will be ticked and you will be able to untick it. Here, it’s greyed out, but you can see where you can find it:

6 privacy options

Once you have unticked this box, your initials will remain on your comment boxes however many times you save or close and open your document!

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Why not take a look at these related topics, which should help you with any other comment box issues?

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Customising Track Changes

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

Do let me know if this has helped you, saved your bacon, etc. – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing

 

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Choosing a proofreader – student edition

track changesIf you’re starting an undergraduate, Master’s or PhD course and you think your writing in English might need some help, it’s a good idea to look for a reputable proofreader to help you. You might be using English as a second or other language, or have a different issue to deal with such as dyslexia or needing to use voice-recognition software. Your tutor or personal tutor might have recommended that you find someone to help you, or you might choose to try to improve things yourself. But how do you choose a reputable, genuine proofreader when there are so many companies and people out there? Here are some tips.

Be careful

The first thing I will say here is be careful. Obviously, all proofreading companies want to make money. But some of them do profit from students, in particular, not knowing what to look out for. I have heard a lot of horror stories in my time: students having their work “checked” when it’s just been run through a spell-checker, companies that don’t care about plagiarism, companies that will sell you an essay to use. Just like any other service or product, there are good and bad companies out there. Be just as careful as if you were buying a designer handbag or a car. After all, your academic mark and reputation might be at risk here.

Check with your tutor / university

Some tutors ask their students to get their work proofread, sometimes before they see it, sometimes afterwards. Universities often have policies on proofreading. For example, one university I work with has a form I must complete and sign each time I work with a PhD where I promise that I have only suggested changes in spelling, grammar, etc., and have not rewritten or otherwise changed the content of the work.

If a student comes to me and says their tutor has asked for their work to be substantially rewritten, I will ask for a scanned, signed letter on headed paper from the tutor to confirm that. So, if your tutor wants more than usual to be changed, get something in writing from them first.

Check the proofreader’s credentials

Any company or individual should state what their training and background is. A company should have a page about the kind of proofreaders that they use. An individual proofreader should have a page detailing their experience, qualifications and background.

It’s good for your proofreader to …

  • Have a degree
  • Have experience in your subject area
  • If you have a particular aspect of your language which needs to be addressed, e.g. working with voice-activated software or dyslexia, to  have experience with similar requirements
  • Be a native speaker of the language in which you are writing
  • Have a qualification from an official body (the Society for Editors and Proofreaders or the Publishing Training Centre in the UK) OR have extensive and documented experience

Check what service the proofreader offers

Check what the proofreader says that they will do – exactly.

Good things to look for:

  • Do they mention using Track Changes to mark up your work?
  • Do they mention making a note of any unclear areas?
  • Do they mention coaching students through a degree or Master’s?

Bad things to look out for:

  • Do they mention helping you to avoid getting caught for plagiarism (see section below)?
  • Do they say that they will rewrite your essay for you?
  • Do they say that you can buy an essay that someone else has written from them?
  • Do they mention compiling your bibliography for you?

These are all red flags: red for danger. If a company is offering to help you to plagiarise, avoid them. This will contravene your university’s regulations.

Ask for references and testimonials

A good proofreader / company will offer references and testimonials on their website.

Things to look out for:

  • References from people who are doing the same sort of thing as you (Master’s Dissertation, PhD, etc.)
  • References including full names rather than Mr D and Ms Y (note that not all of them will have the full name, but at least some should)
  • References should not all be identical. They should look like they were written by real people.

Check your proofreader’s policy on plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offence. If you plagiarise and get caught, you could get kicked off your course. At the very least, if you get caught, you will lose marks. Even if you don’t get caught, plagiarism – passing off someone else’s work as your own – is unethical and wrong. If you plagiarise, you are also not learning what you should be learning from your course.

I found a student proofreading company the other day that boasted of rewriting students’ work so that they will not get caught by plagiarism software. This is a bad thing to do. I would advise you never to go near a company that offers such services.

Another student proofreading company, and the only one I work with myself, has FAQs on their website. These strictly state that you cannot expect them to write your essay for you or to paraphrase sections of your work that you have taken from other books or essays. This is a good thing to do and I would advise you to look for this kind of statement.

I have a statement on plagiarism in my Terms and Conditions. Other places you might find it are in the FAQs or Services or Notes. If you can’t find something on a proofreader’s website, ask them. If they don’t have a plagiarism policy, or they can’t tell you what their policy is, avoid using them.

Regarding bibliographies – your proofreader should not compile your bibliography for you. Putting together a bibliography is one of the central academic skills that you are being tested on when writing your dissertation or thesis. A proofreader will check that all of the relevant entries are there (if you ask them to) and will certainly check for commas out of place and the odd mistake, but they should not write or format it for you from scratch (see more on bibliographies here).

Check that the proofreader is asking a fair price

Many proofreading companies seem to ask for a very high price for their work. I’ve checked and this year prices from proofreading companies for working on a standard student essay, dissertation or thesis in the UK is around £6-£10 per 1,000 words. This increases if the work is urgent.

Individuals often charge a little less – say about £5-£10 per 1,000 words. They may charge by the hour instead.

This is a rough estimate based on searching across websites and should not be taken as anything except a loose guideline. Fees vary according to the location of the proofreader.

If someone is charging a lot less than this, do check their credentials very carefully. It is likely that the work is being outsourced to people who might not be skilled or have English as their first language.

If someone is charging a lot more than this, check what extras they are offering and whether this is worth the extra money.

Check who will be doing your work

This is very important if you’re planning on submitting more than one piece of work to the proofreader. Although the English language does have rules, personal preferences do also come in, and one proofreader may work on a text slightly differently from the next. Therefore, if you’re going to be submitting all of your Master’s coursework or your whole PhD but in separate chapters, it makes sense for the same person to deal with all of your documents.

This is more common with individual proofreaders. But a company will work with many proofreaders and may be able to offer this for you.

It can be very useful and rewarding to work with one proofreader throughout your course. They might be able to pick out certain mistakes you make and help you to work on those for the next essay. This may help you to write well and clearly in English independently of your proofreader in the end.

Book in good time

You should know at the beginning of an undergraduate or Master’s academic year when your main deadlines for the year are. If you’re doing a PhD, you should know soon when you will need to submit reports and updates, and you should schedule time for writing up.

Especially if you’ve been working with someone all year on your Master’s course, book in to have them proofread your dissertation as soon as you know the date. No proofreader minds being booked in advance – and most of us don’t mind if things slip a bit, as long as you keep us informed. But we’re all humans, and sometimes, if you leave it too late to book, we won’t be able to fit you in. That’s when panic sets in, and you might make a bad choice.

Note: If your favourite proofreader can’t book you in, they should be able to recommend other people to try. I always offer a list of alternatives out of courtesy if I can’t fit an enquirer in.

Individual proofreader or proofreading company?

You can use an individual proofreader or a proofreading company. They both have pros and cons:

An individual proofreader:

  • You can talk to them direct
  • They can guarantee to work on more than one document for you
  • They might get busy or ill and not be able to do your work or book you in

A company:

  • Should have enough proofreaders to ensure availability even at busy times
  • Might not be able to guarantee the same person to do every job for you
  • You are unlikely to be able to talk to the proofreader direct

I think you are more likely to find an ethical person among the individuals, but it’s always worth checking all of the points above.

My recommendations

As I’m fully booked at the time of writing this post (and heavily booked most of the time), you can see that I’ve written this post for you, the students, and not to get more work for myself!

I do offer a small list of personal recommendations. I cannot guarantee their availability, price or service, of course. You enter into a discussion with them at your own risk, and you can find them on my Links page. You can also use the SfEP directory to find someone to help you.

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In this article I have shared some tips on how students can choose a good and reputable proofreader.

If you’re a student, you might be interested in more posts for students on this website. Do click through and have a look. And best of luck with your studies!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Ethics, proofreading, Students, Word, Writing

 

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What to do if your comment boxes are too big in Word

I have already published a range of posts on issues with comment boxes or comment balloons, including ones on comment boxes suddenly going tiny, or comment box text running in the wrong direction, changing the language in your comment balloons. Thanks to my colleague, Laura, I realised that I needed to post an article on what to do if your comment box size, or the general comment box area, is bigger than you want it to be.

Help! My comment box margin is too large!

This is the problem that my friend, Laura, had. Her comment box margin was somehow spreading across almost the whole page. Although it doesn’t encroach on the text area on the page, it makes your total page really wide. It looked something like this:

1 too wide

Even on my wide monitor, if the comment box margin is too wide, you get the choice of being able to see all of the text, as above, or all of the comment, as below – not very helpful!

2 too wide

How do you resolve this issue? You need to pop into Track Changes (in the Review tab) and click on the little arrow at the bottom to give you the Track Changes Options. Right at the bottom, you’ll find options for making the comment review pane / margin smaller (and moving it to the left or top if you so desire).

The default is 6.5 cm but if you like to have your page of text bigger but still see your comments, change this to a smaller size.

Note, that like everything in Track Changes, this only changes the view on your computer – whoever you are sending the document to will see it however they’ve set it up.

Help! My comment box text is too large!

Are you experiencing this problem:

3 too big

To change this to a normal size, we need to access the Styles dialogue box, by either

  • Pressing Control + Alt + Shift + s simultaneously
  • Going to the Home tab and clicking the little arrow at the bottom right of the Styles menu

This brings up the Styles dialogue box.

Click the right hand button at the bottom: Manage Styles. When you first open this next window, the sort order is As Recommendedclick on the down arrow to change it to Alphabetical:

Find Balloon Text (note: not Comment text) and it confirms how you have your text set up (blue circle).

Click the Modify button … to change your font and font size. You’ll notice lots of other options (blue circle) to change the spacing, etc.

The standard size for balloon text is 8 or 10 so choose that and you’ll have a nice tidy balloon again!

Press the OK button, and carry on pressing OK buttons until you get back to your document. Now, your comment will appear in the style you have chosen.

Again, these changes will only affect your computer.

These related topics should help you further:

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Customising your comment boxes – everything you need to know

Customising Track Changes

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

Do let me know if this has helped you, saved your bacon, etc. – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing

 

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Why has my proofreader not edited my bibliography?

editsWhen you hire a proofreader to work on your thesis or dissertation, you can expect them to make suggestions on changes to layout, consistency in headings, capitalisation and titles, grammar, spelling, word forms and sentence structures, up to a point (past that point being considered plagiarism). But in a few cases, you will find that your proofreader has not worked on your bibliography.

I’ve written this article to explain why I might not have worked on your bibliography. Different proofreaders / editors will go to different extents to work on your content. I tend to have a light touch, because I want to protect myself – and you – from any whisper of a hint of possible wrong-doing. Passing someone else’s work off as your own is the basic definition of plagiarism (whether that’s not referencing a quotation from a source or asking someone to rewrite your text considerably), and unfortunately, some bibliographies need an amount of work which, if done by your proofreader, would constitute them doing work that you should be demonstrating you can do.

PhD theses and Master’s dissertations are not just assessed on their content and novelty. One of the things the student needs to demonstrate is that they are able to create references and a bibliography which has the requisite amount of detail and is consistent in its presentation of that detail. So, if I change too much in your bibliography, it will appear that you understand and have applied knowledge that you actually haven’t done.

We all know that bibliographies are a bit of a pain to get right. But you need to demonstrate that you can get it right, and if I get too much of it right for you, it’s not you that’s done the work at the end of the day.

It can be hard to understand the rules of creating and laying out a bibliography. Of course, it’s the last thing you want to mess about learning at the end of however many years of study and writing up. That’s why I don’t leave my clients stranded – I will tidy up 1-5 pages of the bibliography and provide guidelines on how to make the rest of it consistent, so that it’s your work that shines, and not mine.

I want to protect my clients and myself from any accusation of plagiarism, so if I find I have a very inconsistent set of entries in front of me, and I’m going to need to change something in more than about 1 in 5 entries, I will send the bibliography back to you unedited, with notes explaining why and what you need to do (and now, linking to this article). I don’t do this because I’m running out of time, or I’m lazy, but to make sure that you’re showing your abilities to your examiners in the best light possible, to make sure you get the result at the end of your postgraduate course that you deserve.

Related posts on the Libro blog: On plagiarism, Referencing, Referencing for academic writing, Resources for students

 
 
 
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