Category Archive: proofreading

Apr 21

Editing Visual Components

Visuals aren’t just those pretty things that push the words aside. Graphs, charts, diagrams, photos, and other illustrations help readers make sense of complex ideas. They help the reader orient to the text, and address visual and spacial learners that might be left behind by words alone.

Editors at various stages of manuscript development and quality assurance must comment on the visual elements of the product. Below you will find checklists of things that should be checked and flagged at each stage, and resources for learning more about effective visual communication.

illustration of man laying water tiles over a desert

These resources are presented in answer to Professional Editorial Standards requirement C5: that editors “Recognize when graphic elements must be edited to clearly and effectively convey the intended meaning,” with recommendations made by my colleagues in both editorial and design. Specific hat tips appear at the bottom.


Get practice giving the kinds of editorial feedback required for visuals at each stage of the manuscript/ product development. Come hear Cheryl and Adrienne in person:

June 12 at the Editing Goes Global conference in Toronto



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Feb 18

Even the Lorem Ipsum Needs Proofreading

Tweet this post.Today, in my How To column at, Greeked text so garbled that even Cicero would roll in his grave:

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Feb 04

It’s about More Than –our, Eh? Canadian Spelling Update

Tweet this post.Author of the latest guide to Canadian spelling, Elizabeth d’Anjou, talks to me today about what she found out when researching the related chapter for the about-to-be-released (online only) Editing Canadian English. We talked about a lot more spelling issues that I could cover in a single post, so watch for more in future Canadian, Eh? columns at

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Dec 03

8 Ways a Ruler Rocks Editing

Tweet this quote.close up on numbers 789 on a clear rulerHow do you use a ruler when editing? I list 8 uses for rulers at (not of) the editing desk, today in my Canadian, Eh? column at

Link to my Canadian, Eh? column on


Photo by Theilr, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license. 

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Nov 20

QA Trick for File Names

I just discovered something so simple and effective that my jaw literally dropped. To proof file names (or create a list for transmittal):
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  1. Open your file browser (Finder or My Documents)
  2. Select all files (cmd + a)
  3. Copy using cmd + c
  4. Open a blank text file (Word will do)
  5. Paste using cmd + v

*For Windows users, use the ctrl key where you see cmd above.

screen capture of files selected in finder and pasted in Word

Presto. Now you have access to all of your usual copy editing tools. Run your macros, your spellcheck, your consistency checker. Just remember to turn on Track Changes so you can transcribe those fixes to the file names themselves.

Make the spellchecker work on the final word by ditching all the file extensions (.jpg, .doc, etc.). Just search for the file extension (with preceding period) and replace with nothing.


Why this Helps

Some products I edit are electronic. The files I transmit are the final ones that will be burned to a disk (old-school) or uploaded to a content management system (CMS). File names are as important as chapter titles. My check caught some transposed letters (typos). Win!


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Nov 13

A Colour Hack to Sharpen Your Editing Eyes

photo of printed text viewed through a blue ruler and a yellow rulerChanging the background colour of your document can trick your brain into seeing the words in a whole new way. People with reading disabilities (such as dyslexia) have had great success with this hack. To change the colour, you can use

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  • a sheet of coloured acetate
  • coloured glasses
  • background colour of the onscreen doc
  • a coloured ruler

How a Ruler Can Trick Your Brain

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Nov 06

Shortcut to Rotate Pages in a PDF

Those sideways PDF pages? Rotate in a click. Note that this rotates all pages in the PDF, and only temporarily. Just rotate them back when you’re done marking up the page.
graphic of keyboard shortcut to rotate a PDF page: command shift plus for clockwise and command shift minus for counterclockwise


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Oct 15

Proofreader’s Marks

headline marked up with some proofreaders' symbols

Tweet this quote.Proofreaders mark up printers’ proofs with symbols to indicate corrections that need to be made. The are by no means standard. A look at what Canadians use, today, in my Canadian, Eh? column at

Link to my Canadian, Eh? column on


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Jul 28

How to Edit the VIP and Keep Your Job

funny close-up photo of a girl pouting, by Dan Foy used under CC BY-2.0 license

How to edit the VIP and keep your job. (Tweet this) Tips for treading lightly, today in my How To column at to my columns on


Photo by Dan Foy used under CC BY-2.0 license.

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Jul 21

How to Find Out What a Character Is in Word

Screen Shot of Word 11's reveal character formatting Mac


Need to get more than this from Word? Wondering what character that really is in your Word document? Has the writer used the proper degree symbol (°) or some hack like superscripting a lowercase o (o)? Today I present two macros to help you in my How To column at


Links from the post:


Link to my columns on (Tweet this post by @scieditor)


Check these recent related posts:


Thanks to the anonymous commenter who asked this question on last week’s post about finding non-printing characters. It was an excellent prompt regarding a very useful thing for us technical editors to know.

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