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Category Archives: Word

How do I add a dot or line above a number in Word to indicate a repeating decimal?

This is something that is used when working with maths texts – a friend who is studying maths asked me about it a while ago. This article will show you how to add a dot or line over a number in a Word document to indicate a repeating decimal.

Type your number first, then go to the Insert tab and look for the Symbol section to the right:

1 insert symbol

Click on the little down arrow below Symbol

 2 insert symbol

Choose More symbols

 3 more symbols

Drop down Subset and find Combining Diacritical Marks

 4 subsets

Scroll down a little and you will find the dot and various lengths of line:

5 combining diacritics

Highlight the symbol you want to use and click Insert to insert the dot:

6 combining diacritics

Note that this will look different according to which font you’re using.

When you want to do this again, you only need to click on the down arrow under Symbol and you will find recently used symbols showing in the first drop-down:

7 combining diacritics

This article has explained how to add a dot or line over a numeral to indicate a repeating decimal.

If you’ve found this article useful, please share, comment or like. Thank you!

Other useful posts on this blog

Inserting non-standard symbols in Word

 

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Word

 

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How do I count the number of times a word appears in my document?

I was asked this question during the week, so here’s how to count how many times a particular word appears in a document (or spreadsheet or anything).

The easiest way to count the number of instances of a word is to use the Find function.

Access Find using Control-F (press the control key and F at the same time).

Type in the word you want to search for.

Word will find and highlight all instances of the word and highlight them for you – and will tell you how many times it appears!

Count instances of a word

Note: this search for transcription will find that word buried in other words, too – so TRANSCRIPTIONs and TRANSCRIPTIONist.

To find just the single word transcription, you need to use Advanced Find.

Click on the down arrow next to the search box and then choose Advanced Find:

2 Count instances of a word

Click the More button (which appears where Less is showing here) and then tick the box marked Find Whole Words Only:

3 Count instances of a word

Now Word will count and highlight just the instances of this exact word.

This article has taught you how to count how many times a particular word appears in your document. You can use this method in Excel and PowerPoint, etc. too.

If you’ve found it useful, please click like and share it. Thank you!

Other useful posts on this blog

How to search for anything using Control-F

How to count the words in your Word document

How to count the words in your PowerPoint presentation

Find and Replace

Advanced Find and Replace

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2016 in Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Writing

 

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What do I do when Word just won’t work (Word 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 edition)

Word 2010 Word 2016 Word 2013

Sometimes, Word gets itself into a pickle

People often contact me, either using the comments on blog posts or privately via email or my contact form, when they’re at the end of their tether with Word. Word has stopped working, Word won’t do what they want it to, the formatting in their document has gone weird, putting something in italics makes the overwrite button engage, the paragraph spacing just will not work, paragraphs keep going into bold BY THEMSELVES …

All of these things have happened to me or my correspondents.

Why does Word go wrong?

I’m not entirely sure why Word goes wrong. I think it sometimes just gets itself into a pickle; there are too many things, too many commands and codes, too much text … or the originating text comes from an unofficial or unregistered copy of Word, or has been converted from another program. Sometimes if something’s saved as and saved as, or worked over too much, like overworked pastry, it just. goes. wrong.

What do you do when Word goes wrong?

Well, I have three methods, which are not nice, and are certainly not fun, but do work most of the time. And as the latest person to contact me didn’t know about these, I’m going to share them with you now.

Before you do any of these, save your document and then make a copy to do all this with, just in case.

Method for sorting out major Word problems 1

  • Turn it off and turn it on again.

I know. But if Word gets into a pickle, sometimes SAVING, closing Word and reopening it can work.

Method for sorting out major Word problems 2

  • Copy the text – all of it.
  • Open a brand new Word document
  • Paste the text into it

This works in about 70% of cases.

Method for sorting out major Word problems 3

This one involves stripping out all the formatting. All your italics and your lovely bibliography. All your headings and styles. But sometimes it has to be done.

Note: There is a Clear formatting button in Word (in the Home tab, a little picture of an eraser rubbing out an ABC). But you don’t know that there isn’t something weird just outside where you’ve put the cursor. So I advise using this method.

  • Copy the text – all of it
  • Open a text editor
    • If you’re on a PC running any form of Windows, you will have Notepad as standard.
      • In Windows 7 do Start > All Programs > Notepad
      • In Windows 8 hit the Windows button > R > type in “Notepad”
      • In Windows 10 go to the magnifying glass in the bottom task bar and type in “Notepad”
  • Paste the text into the text editor
  • Open a new Word document
  • Copy and paste the text in the text editor into Word

It can literally not bring ANY formatting codes or bits and bobs through from your original document. But you will have to put all the formatting in again, from scratch.

I hope you’re found this useful. I know it might read like a bit of a blunt instrument, but if you have a Word document that is not behaving itself and you need to make Word work for you, sometimes this is the only way to do it!

If you have found this useful, do please comment and / or share using the options below. Thank you!

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2016 in Short cuts, Word

 

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Glossaries for transcription: What, why, when and how?

Glossaries for transcription: What, why, when and how?

It’s sometimes useful for and sometimes imposed upon a transcriber to use a glossary. What is a glossary, why would you use one, when should you use one and how do you use one?

What is a transcription glossary?

In my opinion, a good transcriber is an accurate transcriber. They look things up rather than sticking down the first thing they (think they) hear. When I’m transcribing, I always have some kind of reference resource open, whether that’s Google, the subject’s website, Wikipedia or something specific like discogs for looking up band and album information.

A glossary is a list of technical or subject-specific words or phrases which appear regularly in (usually a long series of) transcriptions. It helps you to avoid having to look things up more than once. The glossary acts as a reference for you, so you need only look up, say, the place the subject was born or the names of her children once, note them down, then have them to hand when they crop up again. It’s like a style sheet in many ways.

You might also be given a glossary as part of a corporate transcription project – this will happen where (usually) a company requires you to use certain specific terminology or acronyms in your transcription. I always ask for one of these at the start of a big corporate project, as it saves annoying the company by (for example), typing Park Run throughout the transcription rather than parkrun [that’s a completely invented example; I’ve never transcribed anything about parkrun].

Why should I use a transcription glossary?

As I said above, a good transcriber will look stuff up. If you’ve got a series of transcriptions, for example a set of interviews for a ghostwriter, a set of lectures about a particular topic or a set of tester interviews for a cosmetics company, it makes sense to keep a note of specific or technical terms and phrases. For example, if someone’s made a number of YouTube films, having a list of them is easier than looking it up each time.

Using the glossary will save time, as instead of looking up your subject’s children’s names three times, you’ll look it up once, note it down once, then cast your eyes over your glossary next time.

Of course, as I also mention above, you might be asked to use a glossary (or word list, or list of terms) by your client – usually a corporate client.

When should I use a transcription glossary?

There’s no point in putting together a glossary for a one-off interview or other transcription job. These are some examples of when I’ve used glossaries [these are disguised due to NDAs]

  • working for a ghostwriter writing a book about an entertainer – place of birth, film-making colleagues and YouTube video titles were all checked and written down
  • working for a marketing agency testing lipsticks with a panel – lipstick colour names, technical terms to do with lipsticks and general cosmetics terms
  • working for a student researching attitudes to perfumes – technical perfume terms, companies making perfumes and perfume names
  • working for a financial company taking down lectures and discussions, I was given a list of technical terms and acronyms to use

How do I put together a transcription glossary?

I have a Word document open alongside the one in which I’m typing my transcription. As I look up a name or term, I pop it on the list. I will usually divide up the list by people, places, albums, etc.

I then keep both documents open, so I can see the glossary as I’m typing, which means I can just flick my eyes across to the glossary when the interviewee says “Mytholmroyd”, I know how to spell it or indeed what they’re saying [apologies to anyone from there].

This article has explained what a transcription glossary is and when, why and how you might find one useful in your work as a transcriber.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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How can I transcribe more quickly?

Because transcription is usually paid by the audio minute (i.e. if you have a 20 minute tape, you will be paid 20 x your per-minute rate), the faster (and more accurately) you transcribe, the more money you can make per hour. Here are some tips from my own experience about how you can transcribe more quickly. It’s not all about typing faster, either – it’s about typing faster and typing smarter and working smarter.

All links are to my own articles that explain the topics in greater depth.

Typing faster

One main way (but not the only way) to improve your transcription speed is to simply (ha!) type more quickly. Here are some tips on how to build your typing speed. The first one might surprise you ..

  • Number one tip: trim your fingernails.

I have studied this (because someone has to) and I can improve my typing speed by about 5% by trimming my nails. I can type more quickly when just the pads of my fingers are striking the keys. It also takes longer to wear the letters off your keys if you’ve not got long nails to scratch them …

  • If you’re serious about going into transcription, especially if you have a specialised medical or legal background where the fees are that bit higher, it’s worth investing in typing training – have a look at Pitman courses.
  • A decent keyboard will also help you to type more quickly. Have a look at my post on ergonomics and keyboards, as I cover that there in a lot of detail. But typing on a decent keyboard as opposed to bashing away at a laptop or netbook will improve your typing speed.
  • The more you type, the faster you’ll typically get, up to a point. So you might start off a bit slow, but your speed should pick up, if you’re touch-typing reasonably accurately.

Typing smarter

As well as physically typing faster, you can use technology to help you to transcribe more quickly and efficiently.

  • If you’re not using transcription management software, start doing so (read more on this here). This doesn’t do your typing for you, but it allows you to manage the speed of your tape and stop and start it in the most ergonomic way possible.
  • Use autocorrect to your advantage. I’ve written about this at length in another article, but these are the most important points for building speed and accuracy:
    • Set up common shortcuts right from the start – bec = because, w = with, nec = necessarily, etc. Add these are you come across them.
    • Set up any words you commonly misspell – you can do this when you’re spell-checking, as there’s an autocorrect option in the spell check dialogue box (I have trouble typing occurred correctly, for example).
    • As soon as you recognise commonly used words or phrases in your particular tape, get them into the autocorrect. Long album titles? The name of a big exhibition the artist is working on? Moisturiser and concealer in a set of interviews assessing makeup? If they come up more than twice, create an autocorrect for them.
    • If you’re typing the names of people in the conversation, have a convention, e.g. aa for the interviewer, bb for the first interviewee, change the autocorrected text for that shortcut for each tape (e.g. aa might be Interviewer for one tape, Manager for another, Anita for a third, bb might be Interviewee, Employee or Jane), and always use the same shortcut for the main and secondary person, so it’s super-easy to remember what to type.
  • How about using voice recognition software? This has got a way to go, and editing it, in my experience, takes as long as transcribing in the first place.

Working smarter

This is mainly around the things that delay you in doing the work – looking things up and distractions.

  • I look things up when I’m transcribing – band names, place names, etc. It’s far more professional to provide a transcription with the facts checked and anything you can’t hear or are unsure of marked. Make looking things up work the way you need it to:
    • I find it easist to look them up as I go along, you might finid that disturbs the flow. Do what’s best for you.
    • I have found from experience that if I can’t hear a word, especially a technical term or proper noun, often the interviewer will ask the interviewee to spell it out … just after I’ve spent ages looking it up. So let the tape run a bit and see if it helps you pick that information up without spending time searching for it.
  • I type for an hour at the very most, as after that length of time my posture droops and my typing slows. It might only be a stretch and a march up and down the stairs, but do break it up a bit. Read more about ergonomics here.
  • I do need to have the Internet turned on while transcribing, because I need to look things up, but I’m careful not to answer phone calls or even look at emails until my break. Nothing is that urgent it can’t wait, and three minutes spent looking at something, plus the time it takes to get back in the transcription zone, can lose a few minutes per hour of transcribing. It all builds up!

A final thought

I hope these tips have helped to give you some ideas about how to transcribe more quickly and efficiently. Here are two final thoughts …

  1. If you’re reading this and you’re a journalist or researcher, not a professional typist, especially if you can’t touch type, it’s probably a better idea for you to explore finding a transcriber to do it for you than to try to get faster. I can often transcribe a tape up to twice as fast as a non-professional, freeing my clients up to do their real jobs!
  2. However quickly you type, ALWAYS assume a job is going to take slightly longer than you think. Why do you think this is being posted on Thursday morning instead of Wednesday afternoon …?

If you’ve found this article useful OR if you have more tips for transcribing more quickly, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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Can I edit what I am not? Editing outside your direct sphere of knowledge

DictionariesThis year so far, I’ve worked on, among other things, a book about Black history in the UK, incorporating a number of responses in prose, poetry and rap which reflected the spoken norms of inner city youth; a project about (very) experimental architecture; and a book giving advice to gay men on dating and relationships. I’ve transcribed interviews with bands I know nothing about, and I’ve localised texts about items I’m never going to use. As a straight, white woman who is not an experimental architect, doesn’t follow those bands and is unlikely to use a remote-controlled helicopter, should I have engaged with these texts where I was quite clearly the “Other” in the relationship or knew little about the topic? Or should I stick very closely to what I know?

I think it’s fine to edit and otherwise work on texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you’re flexible, keep the audience in mind, are willing to learn and keep an open mind. I also think that there are limits to what you can work on, and I’ll talk about that, too.

Why I think it’s OK to edit outside your direct experience

It’s my personal opinion that it’s OK to edit texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you bear a few things in mind.

  • Be flexible. The language of an inner-city rap poet might not be the same as your own casual register, let alone the register you use for formal academic writing. Think about the conventions of what you’re working on, not your own preconceptions, go with the flow and keep things consistent and clear (which is the editor’s mantra anyway)
  • Be open-minded. The advice given in a dating book on apps for hooking up with people might be way beyond your comfort zone as a happily married, middle-aged woman, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and it’s wrong, or bad, it’s just different. Which leads on to …
  • Think of the audience. What will the readers of this book want? Is the relaxed style with all the I’d and should’ve contractions something that they will feel more comfortable with? Leave those in.
  • If you’ve got a good amount of life experience and a solid general knowledge, that will see you a long way into an unfamiliar topic.

Why I think it’s positively GOOD to edit outside your direct experience

The good editors I know are wise in knowing what they don’t know and seeking to expand their knowledge. They love to learn. What teaches you more than grubbing around in the very innards of a text on something you never even knew existed? There are other positives, too.

  • By approaching the text as the “Other” (while retaining a sensible approach to the privileges you might have as someone who is not usually the “other”), you might be able to suggest subtleties or pick up on attitudes that are going too far the other way. Maybe you can help reassure an author and their readers that people outside the core audience DO understand / empathise.
  • More importantly and commonly, the aim of all writing should be to be clear and express its author’s intentions clearly. So if you, as an outsider, don’t understand the text, maybe it does need to be simplified a little. If I don’t understand something on the second or third go, I’ll pop a comment in the margin that this might need to be clarified.
  • I think I have a tendency to edit better and more carefully when I’m working on something slightly unfamiliar. It’s like editing your own writing: if you really know the topic, you tend to see what you expect to read, and may skim over errors. I know I have this propensity, so I work extra hard on texts on known topics, and try not to enjoy the process too much at the expense of doing a good job!
  • You learn all sorts of things that might be useful in your everyday life, the next thing you edit, or even pub quizzes. Your next client will benefit from that extra knowledge (or maybe the one after that – I edited a load of texts on Agile working a few months ago, so can cheerfully say I know all about it when another prospective text comes in).

When I think it’s NOT good to edit outside your direct experience

There are some occasions when I do think a text is best left alone. Complete incomprehension of a technical topic or genre is not going to make for a good editing process. I pass those jobs along to a colleague (and get some co-opetition karma in the process). Examples in my own work of jobs I’ve turned down have included:

  • A book all about optimising your motor vehicle engine use, with lots of diagrams and examples. I know nothing about this, and there was little value I could add to something so technical.
  • A localisation job where I would have had to research European legislation on a topic I knew little about to start off with, and match it up to US legislation. That’s too dangerous to mess with.
  • Editing novels in genres I am not familiar with myself such as romance and science fiction – you do need to know your genres if a book is to be edited to fit into them. I’ve actually pretty well stopped working on fiction apart from the odd thriller for an on-going client, as they are pretty well all in genres where I know someone else will do a better job.
  • Specialised transcription – medical and legal in particular. I’ll cheerfully type about makeup I don’t wear or economic policy that can be checked easily, but I don’t go near the specialised terminology used in medical and legal transcription.

In summary … in my opinion, it’s good to stretch the boundaries of the areas you work on and to edit and otherwise work with texts on topics that are unfamiliar, unless the level of technical or specialist content is high enough that you are floundering and uncomprehending. In that case, there’s always someone who  knows more about the topic that you can pass it on to. Happy learning!

What are your thoughts on the subject?

 
 

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Using a style sheet – for editors and proofreaders

DictionariesA little while ago, I wrote an article explaining what a style sheet was, mainly for my own clients, so I could send them a link when I sent their completed work and style sheet to them.

It struck me, though, that it might be useful to write about style sheets from the perspective of the editor / proofreader as well (I’m going to use “editor” to refer to both here, for simplicity, unless I’m distinguishing between the two).

I assume this will primarily be useful for people new to editing who are picking up tips from those of us who have been in the game a little longer. But whoever you are and however long you’ve been editing, do pop a comment below if you have anything to contribute!

What is a style sheet?

A style sheet is a list which spells out how things are to be done when writing and/or editing a text, including information on spellings, hyphenation and capitalisation, referencing and special information. Its aim is to keep texts consistent.

When you’re an editor, you will encounter three types of style sheet:

  1. Style sheets you receive from someone earlier in the process or general ones prepared by particular publishers, journals, etc.
  2. Style sheets you create yourself as you work on a project
  3. Style sheets created by the previous editor when you’re taking over a job or doing the proofreading for something that’s previously been edited (this is unfortunately rare, in my experience)

All three types serve the same purpose: to record the style decisions (more on this later) that have been made in order to keep the look, feel and detail of the text or texts consistent.

When you’re creating a style sheet, it might only be for a single use, for a single client (e.g. a PhD student). When one is created by a journal or publisher, it’s usually so that their “house style” will be consistent across publications and journal issues. But the idea is the same: it’s a tool that’s used to keep things consistent.

What do you mean by “style decisions”?

English is a funny old language. Even if you’re adhering strictly to one of the major style guides, (Chicago Manual of Style, Oxford Style, etc.), you will find there is still room for choice in some aspect of your text.

An example where even Oxford didn’t tell me what to do: I was editing a set of articles which included lots and lots of words and phrases in a different language to English. Each then had the English translation in some form before or after the foreign word. Of course, the articles were all written by different people who had used different ways to express this (word in italics / non-italics / double or single quotation marks and English in parentheses or not, italics or not, quotation marks or not). I was looking to make this consistent … but after some rules on what to do, Oxford told me to choose a way I did this as long as it was consistent!

There will also often be individual names, phrases, etc. in the text you’re editing which will need to be set out in a consistent way, which might not have rules.

An example where there can’t be any rules: your client has lots of interviewees and they’ve referred to them with a code to ensure anonymity. Do they put Respondent OH1, just OH1, OH-1, (OH1), [OH1], etc., etc.?

Although a client a while ago said that his first editor “kept it all in his head”, I prefer to note all of this down so I have it to refer to and keep things consistent.

What does a style sheet look like?

I’m sharing here an example of one of my own style sheets. Note that I have a little explanatory note at the top to explain what it is.

You can see that I set out the most common things that can differ (in my experience) and need noting down – s or z spellings, how the paragraphs are set out, how the headings and figure / table titles are set out, etc.

style sheet 1

In the second half, I go on to dates and numbers, how references are laid out, and some specific things to do with the particular text I’m working on.

style sheet 2

I find that a publisher’s style sheet is set out in the same way, although it might sometimes be online or a pdf with links.

If I’m working on a text destined for a particular publisher or journal article, if their own style sheet is very long and my text is quite simple and doesn’t need all that detail, I’ll often summarise the parts I need on my sheet anyway.

When should I set up a style sheet?

I set up one of these for any text that …

  • Isn’t for a publisher or journal that has its own style sheet
  • Is for a publisher or journal that has its own style sheet but that sheet is very long and complex and I can use a summary
  • Is more than a few pages long
  • Is being sent to me chapter by chapter (this happens with PhDs I work on)
  • Is going to form part of a larger body of work or a series (e.g. the regular publications of an organisation
  • Is being worked on with a colleague – this is quite rare but does happen

When and why should I send a style sheet to my client?

I pretty well always send the style sheet to my client along with my completed work.

I typically send it with a note in the email directing the client to my explanatory article, as I’ve found that most of my clients haven’t come across this before (I happen to work with a lot of students and self-publishers, as well as translation agencies; your experience may differ if you mainly work with publishers).

I will send the style sheet to my client if …

  • They’ve asked me a lot of questions about grammar and wording issues before we start (I will probably pop down the standard hyphenation and capitalisation rules on it if that’s the case)
  • They are likely to add to the text (for example if I’ve pointed out gaps or missing references)
  • They are sending me their work chapter by chapter – sending the style sheet with the first chapter can often nip certain issues in the bud, the client learns from it and they’ll be more consistent in the next chapter (I’m always so happy when this happens!)
  • They plan to send me regular publications, etc. – if they didn’t have a style sheet I provide one for their writers to use, making my work easier and less time-consuming and meaning they have less to correct
  • It’s a substantial document (more than a few pages)

Hopefully, having a style sheet from me will mean that the client will keep things more consistent in the future.

I do also mention that they should send this on to their proofreader if they’re planning to use one in the next stage of publication. This saves their proofreader from busily changing all the Chapter Ones to chapter 1 (or at least it explains that it was an active, considered choice on my part, and not an error).

Making changes to a style sheet

If I send my style sheet to my client mid-way through a project, for example with their first PhD chapter, I ask them to look through it carefully and let me know if there’s anything they’d like to change or they’re not happy with. Sometimes in this case I ask them questions (e.g. “You’ve used ‘Interviewee RD1’ and ‘RD1’ in equal numbers in your text; which one would you prefer to use throughout it?”). If they give me feedback, I record that, or if they ask to change something and their change does actually defy a stated grammar rule I will explain why I can’t.

Working with an established style sheet

If the text I’m working on is destined for a publisher or journal that has a full style sheet, I will of course obey that to the letter, to make things as easy as possible for the in-house editor or designer. Even if that means leaving footnote numbers before the punctuation, something I don’t like to do (but some publishers prefer).

If I’m proofreading a text that someone else has already edited, or I’m working on for example corrections in a PhD that someone else has worked on, I will use their style sheet to guide the changes I make. Even if I don’t approve of their decisions personally, as long as they don’t defy a rule of grammar, I’ll keep it consistent (even if I have to move a footnote number to before the punctuation!). I aim to make as few changes as I can at the proofreading stage, in order to keep corrections (and the chance of new mistakes creeping in) to a minimum.

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I hope this post has been helpful and given you some more information about why we use style sheets, where they come from, setting up your own one and working with your style sheet with your clients. Do pop a comment at the bottom or like and share this article if you’ve found it useful and interesting!

Related posts on this blog

What is a style sheet? For people working with editors

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Copyediting, Organisation, Word, Writing

 

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