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The press I work for sends manuscripts to a company in India that codes the manuscripts and cleans up the authors' Word wizardry. It helps; I sure don't miss taking hard returns out of bibliographies. I worry, though, that it's the first step toward having them do the copyediting too.


I am fairly certain that the author whose manuscript I am editing placed a hard return after every line.

Every line of a 580-page manuscript. Let that sink in for a moment.

It took my husband's superior Word skills to remove them all, but the formatting is still a little wacky, thanks to the other crazy things he did, even after I spent six hours just cleaning it up.


Here by referral (in other words, I'm not an editor!), but thought it be worth mentioning that you can use the Replace function in Word to replace hard returns. The exact path varies depending on the version, but it's fairly simple, straightforward, quick and painless.

Colleen Cunningham

As a book designer and typesetter, I worship editors like you. It makes a big difference, believe me, when I can concentrate on the task of setting the copy in InDesign rather than digging (with my skills, it's more like messing) around in Word. You rock.


It doesn't work on newer versions of MS Word, but have you tried Editor's Toolkit Plus? [http://www.editorium.com/14857.htm]
It can help fix a great deal of this kind of nonsense.

I mostly just use the FileCleaner module to strip the file down to the most minimal formatting (and, yes, ETK+ could have concatenated those 300 separate files for you; it can also batch-process a whole folder), and then I check the original mess against the scrubbed version and style the latter back up the way I like it. There's also a NoteStripper component that can help you straighten out borked endnotes.

This set of macros has probably saved me months' worth of infuriating busy work over the last decade, for a measly $70. I won't upgrade Word (not that I see any reason to, anyway—I hate the new interface), because I can't bear the thought of facing a manuscript without it.

Carol Saller

India, thanks for mentioning this! We use the same macros, and thank goodness for them! But our manuscripts are sometimes so complex that we have to limit the macro work, lest we cause more work than we save. (I'm sure you know what I mean.)


If I may ask, as an aspiring writer, what in Word can we do to make the copy editor's job easier?

Carol Saller

Leon, thank you for asking--you've given me an excellent idea for my next post! Stay tuned . . .

Maggie Newman

You can remove hard returns very easily indeed in Word Perfect. And I don't blame authors for trying to override MS Word's horrible, horrible footnote glitches. Which don't exist in Word Perfect. Oh well. Bad technology sometimes drives out good, which keeps the fixer-uppers in business.

Dona Uhrig

Just thought I'd add my two cents. I've had to deal with this alot and the whole deleting too much and having to start over. Here is my path. I first make a copy of the manuscript, find and replace with the feature of accepting each one, and save often. That way, if I make a mistake, I only have a little ways to revert back. Also, with the backup copy, major mistakes are easily taken care of by returning to the original and copy and pasting the mistakes.

Laura Miller

I've been out of manuscript editing for 15 years and haven't thought much about it for a while, but this post just brought back some nightmarish memories for me!

Jane Steen

Endnotes can be incredibly hard to deal with properly in Word, especially where the writer has worked on a document several times. I wish Word made it easier to deal with editing them. Does anyone have tips for this occasional copyeditor?

(Found your blog via the CMOS Twitter feed.)

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf

Here are three excellent books that can help copyeditors speed through the drudge work and get to the fun editing:

* Making Word Work for You: An Editor’s Intro to the Tool of the Trade; http://www.the-efa.org/res/booklets.php#word

* Microsoft Word for Publishing Professionals; http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Word-Publishing-Professionals-Jack/dp/143410236X

* Effective Onscreen Editing: New Tools for an Old Profession; http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/effective-onscreen-editing-new-tools-for-an-old-profession-%282nd-edition%29/11027046


Thank you for giving me a new motto:
Check for squirrels!

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