Word 2007 for Writers: Part 5 – Proofreading and Editing Tricks

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12 Responses

  1. Zoe Westhof says:

    This series is incredibly useful (even though I don’t have the latest version of Word)! I’m saving these five posts as PDFs on my desktop.

  2. Craig says:

    Excellent series. What about tricks for those of us still using Word 2003? Any pointers?

  3. Dustin says:

    Craig: See my follow-up on passive voice highlighting in 2003 at http://www.writerstechnology.com/2008/08/word-passive-voice-highlighting-revisited-now-for-word-2003

    Also, a lot of these tips will work in 2003, but since the navigation is different (menus vs. ribbon) I can’t give precise instructions. Styles, table of content generating, sections, outlining — 2003 does all of that. Even 2000 does most of it. And I’d venture to guess that OpenOffice does most of it, too — sections and styles are crucial word processing tools. The little tricks might not work, but you might figure out alternative ways to do the same thing (like the person who showed how to do passive voice highlighting in Word on Mac in comments on the post I just linked to).

  4. Paul Lagasse says:

    Terrific and useful series, thanks for the timely reminders.

    I’ve encountered a problem with Word’s readability checker for which I’m hoping you might have a solution. The “grade level” ranking algorithm factors the complexity of individual words into the overall ranking. In cases where you can’t substitute terms of art for smaller or “easier” words (such as in instructional and science writing), the ranking ends up being skewed artificially high.

    For example, many years ago I wrote textbooks for the construction trades. The client wanted the text to be no higher than an 8.5 grade reading level, but the text required many technical terms and phrases such as “reduced pressure zone backflow preventer” that pegged the top of the scale no matter how simple the sentence.

    The (admittedly awkward) compromise we suggested was this: with all terms clearly defined on first use and with a glossary at the back of the book for reference, it could be assumed that readers would quickly become familiar with the meaning of the technical term, thus rendering it the functional equivalent of a “simple” word.

    So, if the client wanted to check the readability level of the sentence “Install the reduced pressure zone backflow preventer according to the manufacturer’s instructions,” it could substitute a simple word for the term of art (e.g., “shoe”) and check the readability of the result: “Install the shoe according to the manufacturer’s instructions.” (I’m just making this example up — please don’t run it through the checker! 🙂 )

    In practice, we were never called on to verify individual sentences that way because we quickly learned to write to an 8.5 grade level pretty much on sight. But I’ve always wondered if there was a better way to circumvent that problem. Any ideas?

  5. Dustin says:

    Paul: You ask good questions, and I’m afraid I don’t know enough to say anything meaningful. The whole “readability analysis” thing is very mysterious to me — I just trust that it’s giving me a figure that’s *roughly* useful. I would think that the grade level indicator is aimed at a *general* education — specialized fields need specialized vocabulary that wouldn’t be part of a normal education. So I’d expect to see a somewhat higher readability level where a specialized vocabulary was used, regardless of the field. But that’s guesswork…

  6. max says:

    Hello. How do I print my proofreading comments?

  7. Henry says:

    This was a useful article to me.

    I’d like to see an article on building and using Indexes for documents. The process seems to be labor intensive and there must be things that I am missing that would make it easier.

    • Dustin Wax says:

      I’m not sure if you’re talking about using Master Documents or about indexing a book, but both are covered on the site. Use the “Search” bar at the top, I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for 🙂

  8. Henry says:

    I was asking about using the index options on the References Ribbon, the Mark Entry and Insert Index options. This is in reverence to indexing a document as you would for a book. I did search for this as you suggested and found one entry, but in that article you do not use the index functions provided for by word at all.

    Perhaps this is because you also don’t find this a very functional tool or perhaps I have missed an article. But like you said in your article building an index is not easy. I was just hoping that there might be some tricks I did not know about.

  9. Dustin Wax says:

    Ah, got it. I believe that’s an Office 2010 feature. In any case, I’ve never used it. Sorry…

  10. Tracie Petras says:

    Regarding the indexing question: I used the Word 2007 indexing tools to create a simple index for a 98 page book. Once I got used to what was at first a frightening barrage of codes and symbols, it was relatively easy to create an index. (But I was working with a short book. A larger one would of course be more time-consuming.)
    If I’m remembering correctly, I used the MS Word help topic “How to create an index” to get started.

  11. mark mcgoveran says:

    Thanks for the tip, my prevous micros soft word version had a passive sentence search tool but the new stuff doesn’t have it well I spent the money and the new stuff doesn’t out preform the old and it is a step backwards for my money. thanks for the work around, on the passive sentence checker.