Making Word Work for You: An editor’s intro to the tool of the trade

by Hilary Powers (Editorial Freelancers Association, NY, 2007): ISBN 978 1 880407 22 6. Available from £8.40 + shipping (pbk).

Reviewed by Michèle Clarke

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Another well-written and informative book from the EfA – Word is indeed the tool of the trade for the majority of copyeditors. This is a slim volume, spiral bound to keep it flat while we are working our way through the features. It is written for someone who has fairly substantial experience as a copyeditor of books or journal articles and just enough knowledge of Word to get a file open and start trying to work by instinct.

Well, I think most of us are further on than that, but there are many of us, myself included, who pale at the thought of styles, templates, changing the norm, or even get excited about trying, simply because many of Word's features are not used on a day-to-day basis. Styles, for example, are wonderful, but are created at the beginning of a job or the same ones are used regularly. The next time we want to use the feature, all our knowledge is hazy again! This little tome might well help you on your way.

Several nuggets

Some of the book's text might well already be out of date. For example, how to check citations is discussed, although for this I would now automatically use software that has been around for a few years and presumably is updated fairly regularly.

There are several nuggets for those of us who appreciate having light-bulb moments – for instance: With files fresh from the client, it's useful to switch to Print Layout view at least once early on, then drop the zoom factor to 20% or so … graphic elements will stand out like mold on cheese.

Weenie point size

There is an index, badly set out with no separators, although there is room for them. And my only other complaint is that the point size is weenie – I'm no designer but it can't be more than 8 or 9 point – and there is only one column, so it's easy to lose your place while operating the computer and reading at the same time. I know it was done probably for the sake of cost, but it is irritating not to be able to find your place quickly in the text in the middle of editing. If the book is reprinted, please make the type bigger and easier to read!

That said, this is the sort of book that is useful to work through slowly – perhaps promise yourself to do one headed section per day or even per week. It's the start of 2008 as I write this and I have already made that resolution. I could well be upping my rates at the end of the exercise!

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