Editing Course: Types of Electronic Documents

This is pretty basic and I wasn’t going to include it on the website, but then I realised that not everyone knows what electronic documents are. My mother still can’t understand why digital cameras don’t need a film or how an email can be received within seconds of sending it, especially when the recipient is on the other side of the world.

With this in mind, here’s a very basic list of electronic documents.

Ebooks: Electronic books, viewed on an ereader. This is a fast growing market in electronic publishing.

E-zines: Electronic magazines distributed electronically via email. They may be the size of a newsletter (under 10 pages) or as large as a printed magazine.

E-newsletters: Mostly referred to as e-zines. They are a short electronic publication, usually sharing news on a specific topic. They are distributed via email.

E-documents: Mostly used in the business sector. E-documents are useful as they can be updated regularly and easily. They can be downloaded from websites as a PDF and emailed with ease.

A Few Editing/Proofreading Tips

It is harder to find errors on screen so wherever possible it is better to print the document before attempting to edit/proofread it.

However, printing the document is not always an option. If you must edit/proofread on screen remember the glare of the screen can cause eye strain so take regular breaks to rest your eyes.

Editing Course: Online Webpages

When editing or proofreading webpages online there are a few things to remember. It is more difficult to read screen based documents. And you are not only checking the content. Once you have edited or proofread the site, you will need to type up your report and send it to the client via email.

Elements of a Website

Reporting for a website is slightly different than reporting for a PDF document. You must ensure your client understands which page you are referring to. Here are some website elements and how to report them.

Functionality: Check the content is useful and helpful, and make sure a contact page is provided.

home/index.html: doesn’t mention the product
contacts/site.html: there is no email address

Navigation: Ensure the site is user-friendly, a navigation bar is on all pages and easy to locate and use.

products/style.html: no navigation bar on page
products/postage.html: sub-menu is not clickable

Consistency: Ensure the content is consistent, as well as the layout and placement of graphics.

about us/history.html: irrelevant information
index.html: different logo used to rest of site

Accuracy: Ensure all links work, all headings are correct, all references to the company are spelt correctly, and all banners, menus, etc work.

prices/design.html: page doesn’t load
products/faq.html: para 2, line 4: “there’ sb “their”

Speed: Too many graphics will cause a page to load slowly.

products/design.html: page loads slowly

Appearance: Does the site look professional? Will it appeal to its target audience?

contactus.html: emoticons look unbusiness like
products/design.html: graphics slow loading

Browsers: Check to ensure the website displays correctly in various browsers.

Website does not display properly in IE.

Resolutions: Check the screen resolutions, where possible, as some designs look shabby when viewed with smaller or larger screens.

Website does not display properly when viewed on larger screens.

Maintenance: Are the file names complicated or user-friendly? Is the coding easy to change on pages that need frequent updating?

homepage/index.html: file name too complicated
products/pricing.html: content difficult to update

Some Basics of Online Editing

Successful websites tend to offer “byte-sized” chunks of information rather than long pieces of written material as most visitors skim over the content if there’s too much reading involved.

The layout should be user-friendly, with key elements such as links and headlines easy to find and standing out from the rest of the text.

Websites make use of colour, graphics, bullet points and underlined links but should never be cluttered and cramped as it puts the viewer/reader off.

When proofing a website some proofreaders like to scroll down the page, reading each line as it appears at the bottom of the page. Others prefer to use the cursor, moving it across the page as they check each word. Remember, ALL text must be checked on every page (ie headings, banners, logos, content, links, address bars, etc). It is always wise to write your report as you check each page.

Editing Course: Reporting Corrections by Email

If a client emails you a document in PDF, you can proofread it, write up the corrections in an email or Word document and attach it to an email and send the email back to the client.

To write up corrections, you use a simple reporting apprach based on abbreviated terms. These are common reporting terms used across the industry:

Term What it Means
P#. (ie P1) page (ie page 1)
Col column
row row
Para or P paragraph
line or L line
sb should be
no corrections There are no corrections to be made to the page

If reporting to a client who does not understand the reporting process or abbreviations then you would set out your report in full. For example:

Page 1
Para 1 line 1: “th launch” sb “the launch”
Para 1 line 5: insert comma after “Saturday”
Para 2 line 3: remove apostrophe from “it’s” sb “its”

However, if the client is familiar with the process, use abbreviated terms. Example:

P1.
P1 L1: “th” sb “the”
P1 L5: insert comma after “Saturday”
P2 L3: remove apostrophe from “it’s” sb “its”

Steps to Handling a Reporting Job

1. Print out the PDF, website page or document.
2. Mark it up in the normal manner.
3. Type the corrections into an email or Word document, using 1.5 spacing for easier reading and an extra space between page indications.
4. Email back to client.

Editing Course: Using Technology

Editing and proofreading is not just about printed matter/publications, it also involves working with other technology such as:

A website, where you would proof the pages on-screen and either email, fax or post back the corrections.

A PDF document, where you would proof the document on-screen and email back the corrections.

A Word, RTF or other soft document created in a word processor, where you would edit the document using “Track Changes” and email it back to the client.

An editor/proofreader must understand the processes of doing their work using technology. However, it is up to the individual if these services are offered. Of course, the more flexible you are, the better for you.

How Much to Charge

To start with you would probably charge about $20 – $25 per hour, but this will increase to $25 – $35 per hour as you gain experience. This is the same amount you would charge to edit/proofread hard copies.

Remember, proofreading attracts a lower fee – $20 – $25 per hour. Copyediting is around $25 – $35 per hour. And substantive editing is $40 upwards.

Keep in mind also that you will probably have to print out the soft document as it is usually easier to work with.

Technology Jargon

It is always helpful to know the jargon when using technology. Here is a short list of meanings:

These days it is not uncommon to see “e” in front of words (for example, email, e-zine, e-commerce, ebooks). The “e” means electronic.

“Uploading files” means sending files.

“Downloading files” means receiving files.

“PDF” means portable document format.

“RTF” means rich text format.

“Log in” means to access an account (and is two words).

When editing/proofreading, it is important to remember the following:

Internet should always be spelt with a capital “I” as it is a proper noun.

World Wide Web should always be capitalised too, for the same reason.

Web, when referring to the Internet, should be capitalised as it is the formal abbreviation of a proper noun.

Email can be hyphenated (e-mail) or can be written without the hyphen (email), but all other “e” words should be written with the hyphen, unless house-style dictates otherwise.

Using Spelling and Grammar Checkers

It is dicey to use spell checkers included in word processors as they are unreliable.

Use them only if you have the right one installed for your location (ie it is no use using a US spell checker if you are in Australia), and you only use it to pick up everyday typos at a glance. Do not depend on them and always edit your own work for errors.

Remember, these checkers are often wrong!

Book Review: Death Most Definite

Death Most Definite (Death Works, #1)

Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unfortunately, due to illness I don’t have the energy to write a long review.

This is the first book in the Death Works series. It’s the story of a hungover pomp named Steven (no, he’s not a pimp, he’s like…a modern day, living grime reaper), who needs to focus to get the job done. People are dying all around him, someone or something is trying to shot him and there’s a dead girl distracting him. And that’s just how the story begins…

The story is set in Brisbane, Australia and takes the reader to the underworld where we meet Death himself.

The book is different. It’s written in first person (which put me off to begin with but the author did such a good job that I soon forgot about it) and the topic is death, but it’s not dark and gloomy. There’s a touch of zombie activity and the author throws humour and romance in to spice it up a bit. It’s an enjoyable first book introducing fresh characters and the “presence” of something bigger that is going to cause havoc in the next two books.

Writing Course: Defined Work Roles

Ideas are everywhere. For a writer this means the capability to write is plentiful. Finding paid employment, on the other hand, is another matter.

Work opportunities are often not advertised and are not confined to a 9am to 5pm work day. They are nearly always governed by deadlines.

Journalist

A journalist writes articles for newspapers, magazines and other publications. They can be feature articles, news stories or reviews. The journalist must be well informed and have contacts. Journalism involves:

  • locating news stories
  • researching
  • attending meetings
  • establishing reliable contacts
  • writing to a deadline
  • accepting direction from others
  • working in a team
  • having effective interview skills

 

Freelance Writer

Freelance writers work for numerous publications, rather than being employed by one company. Most work for newspapers and magazines. They need to be proactive in creating work opportunities otherwise they will not make money. Their job involves:

  • attracting commissions
  • developing contacts for potential work
  • establishing a wide network of contacts
  • liaising with editors and business management
  • researching material
  • writing material suitable for the business they work for
  • undertaking interviews
  • setting up a small office/business
  • keeping abreast of technical changes and industry changes
  • marketing their work

 

Public Relations Consultant

A PR Consultant profiles and promotes an organisation, an event, a person or a product. The tasks include:

  • solicit client work
  • accept client brief
  • research publicity material
  • undertake interviews
  • prepare and write material such as letters, brochures, media releases, reports, submissions and media kits
  • respond to media, public and client requests
  • attend meetings
  • organise distribution of material
  • identify marketing strategies
  • organise conferences, exhibitions and events
  • organise book tours, interviews and other appearances

 

Corporate and Technical Writers

Corporate writers undertake all writing within the business sector. Tasks include:

  • liaise with staff and management
  • research material
  • establish contacts
  • prepare letters and memos
  • prepare publicity material, reports, submissions, speeches, newsletters and any other publications request by the employer

 

Researchers

Apart from research, this job entails:

  • accepting client brief
  • locating suitable material
  • writing synopsis of researched material
  • attending and organising meetings
  • writing articles
  • record keeping
  • providing material to publishers and editors

 

Editor

The tasks of an editor can vary considerably depending on the size of the organisation they work for. They could do all or only some of the following:

  • liaise with publisher to establish/build/alter publisher’s list
  • solicit and commission work from writers
  • provide advice to writers
  • read and select manuscripts
  • reject unsuitable manuscripts
  • liaise with writers about their work
  • prepare contracts
  • publicise books/authors
  • co-ordinate author tours
  • write publicity material
  • write text for book jackets
  • engage book designer/illustrator
  • liaise with printers
  • apply for ISBN numbers
  • register books and authors for public lending rights payments
  • obtain permissions from appropriate copyright holders
  • proof read copy
  • seek advertising/sponsorship
  • develop a network of contacts

 

Generating Your Own Work

To generate your own work, you must prepare a portfolio of your writing. Make sure it is attractive, well presented and professional looking. Here are some things you can do:

  • Present yourself to potential employers, in person or in writing. This can include advertising agencies, publishing houses, local papers, theatres, magazines, film production houses and large organisations with a public affairs section.
  • Volunteer to work for clubs and/or societies, theatre groups, community groups, student magazines and charities. Write for their newsletters. Write, design and layout their publicity material. Make sure you get your by-line on all your published work. Keep copies in your portfolio. This will help create paid work later.
  • Accept work placements through courses. This is an excellent way to position yourself in the writing world. It helps you become known, to gain experience and skills and may lead to paid work.
  • Start your own magazine. You can do this around a particular interest or for an organisation you may be a part of.
  • Write and produce your own play.
  • Be alert for writing opportunities. Be willing to step up to the challenge. Help out for free when necessary as it might lead to something paid.
  • Develop a network of contacts and let them know you are looking for work.
  • Enter writing competitions. You may be noticed. You may win!
  • Make sure you are accessible. If necessary get a phone, fax and answering machine to ensure people can reach you.
  • Make sure you are multi-skilled. The more you can do, the more likely it is that you will get paid work.

 

Writing Course: Styles/Categories of Writing

This is the second part of the previous post. The topic was too long to do in one sitting.

3b: Styles/Categories of Writing

Indigenous Writing: In recent years there has been an increase in Aboriginal writing. The literary voices of Aboriginal people are still being discovered and as this happens Australian literature evolves in authenticity and integrity and the prospects of understanding between cultures is enriched.

Women’s Writing: A new wave of writing came about in the 1960s and 1970s which is broadly described as feminist or women’s writing. This type of writing explores the lives of women and their role in society, and how these things have been documented in history.

Multicultural Writing: The influx of migrants to Australia has resulted in a new literature referred to as multicultural writing. It explores the migrant experience and can be seen as quite controversial.

Gay/Lesbian Writing: Another area of controversy. Some believe gay and lesbian writing is that specifically written by gays and lesbians. Other believe it includes writing which explores the experiences of gays and lesbians no matter what the preference of the writer. Whatever the opinions, this new category allows new voices into the literary world that were once muffled or restrained.

Travel Writing: This is about people and places. The writer must be able to give detailed information in a clear and concise manner.

Popular Writing: Generally, this category is defined as that fiction which acquires best seller status. According to Dean Koontz, the ingredients for popular fiction include plot, a hero/heroine, action, convincing characters and motivations, a setting and correct use of language.

Genre Writing: This is sometimes categorised under popular fiction. Genre writing usually refers to that realm of fiction concerned with romance, thriller, mystery, fantasy, science fiction. Each category has its own requirements. For example:

  • Science Fiction – some editors simply say that science fiction is set in the future. Other editors define science fiction as a futuristic setting but it can be set in the present, the past or in a time frame not connected to our world.
  • Crime Fiction – this involves mystery, police, justice, spy and thriller novels. The writer observes procedures to do with right and wrong doing, injustice, authority and fairness.
  • Romance Fiction – As always strong plots and characters and convincing settings are essential, however, romance is defined by the sensual and emotional interactions between the hero and heroine.
  • Horror and Fantasy Fiction – these were the fastest growing genres in the 1980s and 1990s. They provide an indictment of the modem age. These genres offer readers the chance of escape from reality, They have an emphasis on the mystical, supernatural and other-worldly. The two genres are closely linked yet are so different. Writers of horror and fantasy bring back timeless legends of werewolves, vampires, ghosts and demonic possession. They entwine our ordinary lives with beings of terror and lands or wonder. They also draw other genres into the equation for an exciting mix.

 

Writing for Children: Some believe writing for children must be easy, but in fact it is just as difficult as any other writing. Age groups must be considered and the reader’s level of understanding, development and experience. As a result, children’s publications are categorised into groups. These groups vary from publisher to publisher, but generally they are as follows:

First chapter books 6-8 year olds 4,000-6,000 words
Junior novels 8-10 year olds 8,000-15,000 words
Older children 10-13 year olds 20,000-40,000 words
Teenage 13-16 year olds 30,000-60,000 words
Young adult 17+ 40,000-70,000 words

Non-fiction for children is an expanding area. Books on topics such as school issues, home life, relationships (between family, friends and pets), transport, grief, science, countries, solar systems, culture, sport and much more can be explored. Often the most successful non-fiction include study kits.

A writer for children must:

  • have a deep understanding of children
  • appreciate a child’s development stages
  • understand children’s reactions in different stages of life
  • be able to write with sophisticated simplicity
  • appreciate the language of children
  • understand how writing can affect children morally and emotionally
  • feed the child’s imagination

 

Writing Course: Forms of Writing

There are many different types of writing in existence. The writing industry demands they are categorised. This can cause a rigidness but is also handy for organisation and assists in identifying publications.

Writing is generally categorised into two main areas – fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction

Fiction is created from the author’s imagination. Forms of writing in this area are novels, short stories and poetry.

Novels: A novel contains all or some of the following:

  • concept or issue, usually referred to as the theme around which the story is told. The theme often involves social, political or moral issues
  • plots and sub-plots, which layout the design of the novel
  • characters, developed by the author
  • passage of time, to suit the story
  • a setting, which may include a world developed by the author

 

Novelists draw on experience, history, imagination, social issues and research to write their stories. These things are combined with suspense, drama, intrigue and tension to keep the reader interested and guessing.

Another form is the novella, a short novel. However, these are more difficult to market.

Short Story: A short story is a work of fiction that concentrates on a particular event or character. Unlike a novel, which has multiple characters and plots, the short story homes in on only one character and event and confines its scope. It will usually have a brief time frame. Short stories are generally 1,000 to 10,000 words in length. Many short stories have been turned into a novel, a play, a film and even non-fiction over the years.

Poetry: Poetry defies definition. It is an imaginative use of language which may or may not take the form of a sentence. Poetry attempts to create atmosphere, perceptions and emotions. It uses words to stimulate the imagination. A poem can contain symbolism, metaphor or simile. It can be written for self truth, for publication, for expression and for performance.

Non-Fiction

Non-fiction is the construction of true stories. It documents actual events and facts. It can take the form of instructional manuals, recipes, history, facts on animals, the environment, politics, nature, outer space, science and much more.

Faction: A recently introduced term which refers to a combination of fiction and non-fiction. This style is used to bring immediacy to the writing and/or to protect the people referred to in the writing by using pseudonyms.

News Reporting: The factual account of events, usually found in newspapers, radio and television, and also in some magazines. Good news reporting involves good and accurate observation, verification of facts, economy of words and the ability to write and edit quickly and to a deadline.

Features: A feature is the major article found in a publication. They can be a detailed profile of a person, an investigation of an issue, an exploration of a place or a bit of all these things. Most feature articles rarely go over 2,000 words. A good feature writer draws on many sources and is able to write using different techniques and styles but always remains true to the facts.

Reviews: Reviews are found in newspapers, magazines and on many websites. They give a critique, description and opinion on books, movies, events or locations. A good review will inform and educate the reader.

History: Writing about history involves much more than excellent research skills. The writer must interpret findings in such a way as to produce a reliable and authentic account of the past.

Biography: This is when you write about the life of someone else. It involves a profound insight into this other person and an understanding of their life. It’s important to report the information with utmost accuracy.

Autobiography: This is when you write about yourself. The writer must be objective, accurate, truthful, ethical and have the ability to understand and make fair judgements when relating information about themselves and others.

Screen Writing: This is very much visual story telling. This is different to a story being read, it is all about image, being seen and heard. A screen writer must understand the significance of combining music, action and light to create atmosphere.

Stage Writing: Theatre is an ancient craft. Before stories were written, they were performed so a stage writer must understand the dynamics of the theatre, for stage is the be seen and heard.

Corporate Writing: This is primarily writing for business. It is often seen as dry and uncreative. A corporate writer must understand business dynamics, have the ability to understand and work to a brief, be able to work quickly and to a deadline and appreciate relationships within and outside the business.

Technical Writing: This is writing which usually is published in specialist publications. For such writing the writer needs to be well informed, accurate, concise and up-to-date. This type of writing is mostly formal and authoritative.

Education Writing: This involves writing instructions and must be clear and concise. This type of writing requires logical expression in giving step-by-step instructions, a knowledge of the readers and their expectations and an understanding of how people learn.

Text Books: These can cover all sorts of topics and vary in complexity depending on the target audience. The writers of these books are usually specialists in their topic. Thorough research in required and they must always be clear and concise.

Essay Writing: Essays set forth an idea then proceeds to explore it through analysis and argument supported by evidence. Logic, clarity and organisation are important aspects for an essay writer.