Digital Copyediting

Devora

Sage
I'm used to printing out papers and copy editing off the sheets but I realize that this has become a waste of paper, and, with getting pretty damn expensive, I need to find a solution to edit my drafts without having to print them. I'm considering just switching to full digital editing at this point but I have no clue how to mark up PDFs or what kind of program to use for this sort of thing.

Anyone got any ideas on how to digitally copy edit a draft?
 

Mad Swede

Inkling
To do that with PDFs you either need to buy Adobe Acrobat Pro or try to find another suitable program to do it - there are some supposedly free packages out there, but I don't know how good they are. Depending on how the PDF file was saved you may be able to read it into Word and then convert it, but this takes time and the document won't look exactly the same as it does in PDF format.
 

Devora

Sage
Id not do it in a pdf. Ask for a word copy.
To do that with PDFs you either need to buy Adobe Acrobat Pro or try to find another suitable program to do it - there are some supposedly free packages out there, but I don't know how good they are. Depending on how the PDF file was saved you may be able to read it into Word and then convert it, but this takes time and the document won't look exactly the same as it does in PDF format.

I feel like I should give more clarity. I'm not going for PDFs specifically. I just want to know if anyone knows good ways to copyedit without having to print out a draft.
 

Queshire

Auror
I imagine that there's specialized programs, but I reckon that Google Docs should be able to do anything you could do by hand once you figure out how it works.
 

pmmg

Istar
Id just use word. What difficulty are you having?

nothing is going to do it for you. Maybe you can find an editor to do it.
 
Just use Word.

Open the document, turn on "track changes", use the comment feature to add comments, and you're good to go.

If you like the changes, you can accept them and they become normal text again, or revert them and go back to the way they were. Also note that you can switch between different views. As in, you can view the final text, as if all changes have been accepted, or the original, or the one with all the changes included.

As for comments, highlight a piece of text, right click on it, and select "add comment". Or just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+M.
 

CupofJoe

Myth Weaver
If you use something Linux, macOS or Windows bases, there is LibreOffice.
It is an Office alternative. I use it every day. It is free and does pretty much what Word/Office can do.
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
For me, I just save the story to another file name, and then I just edit the new copy. I also use Scrivener, which lets me take snapshots of a chapters/scenes so I can always refer back to old versions if need.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
The tools are easy. Just use LibreOffice (I prefer that over Word). Scrivener is also a good option, but not for a work in progress. If you want to move to Scrivener or similar tool, do so when you are starting a new project. There will be a time of learning.

Once you have the tool, the real question is what is your process? You specifically used the term copyediting, which means something fairly specific and limited. Proofreading I regard as a separate step. Same goes for revision.

In very broad terms, a person makes changes either by reading through the work and making notes about what needs to be changed, or they proceed in a more linear fashion, making changes as they go from Chapter One to Chapter Last. All that said, I do find that at some point I wind up printing the whole dang thing and seeing how it looks on the page. I catch things that way (usually smaller stuff) that I don't on-screen. I also do a listen, having the computer read it to me aloud.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
My team works in Word, including our alpha reader. This is basically what our editing process looks like - black being the original text, red being questions, edits, and suggestions.
2022-07-08 (1).png 2022-07-08 (2).png

And Skip is totally right (as usual) about the read-aloud edit, except with the caveat that you do the reading and don't let yourself be read to. It activates a different part of your brain and makes mistakes stand out more.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Ideally I think I would vote for both. When I'm reading my own work I am perfectly capable of reading right past mistakes. OTOH, when I'm listening, I'm perfectly capable of drifting off. But both methods require hours and hours. I do think they are best done at the proof stage or late in the copy edit (mainly to catch dialog tone).
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I listen, I sleep. lol It's why I only listen to books on physics. Nothing with a storyline to keep track of. I think it's probably a YMMV thing depending on the individual brain.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Me too! I simply can't do audio books, physics included (how does one narrate formulae?!). It's instant nap time.

When I was much younger I could manage to do so without falling asleep, but my attention would still wander and I'd find I didn't really know what happened in the previous chapter. Always feels like a disservice to the author.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I listen to Michio Kaku's books, for the most part. Very popular-quantum-physics stuff, so math at my level... around kindergarten. lol But I still love them.
 

Devora

Sage
The tools are easy. Just use LibreOffice (I prefer that over Word). Scrivener is also a good option, but not for a work in progress. If you want to move to Scrivener or similar tool, do so when you are starting a new project. There will be a time of learning.

Once you have the tool, the real question is what is your process? You specifically used the term copyediting, which means something fairly specific and limited. Proofreading I regard as a separate step. Same goes for revision.

In very broad terms, a person makes changes either by reading through the work and making notes about what needs to be changed, or they proceed in a more linear fashion, making changes as they go from Chapter One to Chapter Last. All that said, I do find that at some point I wind up printing the whole dang thing and seeing how it looks on the page. I catch things that way (usually smaller stuff) that I don't on-screen. I also do a listen, having the computer read it to me aloud.

I'm probably using the term copyedit and proofreading interchangeably. I basically just want to digitally edit story drafts instead of hardcopy.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Libreoffice for computer, Google Doc for mobile phone
I'm not terribly familiar with either of those, but my wife's edited in Google Docs before and says it can used across platforms relatively cohesively. I write exclusively in Word for this reason, too.

So, are you asking a technical question, like a literal "How do I?" Or are you aiming more for the craft of editing in a new and different format?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
I echo the questions above. The technical process is usually to use the comments feature of the software (I also have LibreOffice and can vouch that it has such a feature). A secondary approach is to start a second document and write comments there. I regard that as supplemental rather than alternative. Certain kinds of copyediting (let's let the term cover a broad scope) can be tied to a specific passage, but others are more general, such as noting that a chapter is weak and speculating on how to change it. The comment function of software is always tied directly to specific text.

FWIW, I often find I get a bit tangled up during editing and have to pay careful attention to versioning. Eventually the big revisions get sorted and things get easier, but early on there can be major forks in the manuscript. Just like with all aspects of writing, you just need to keep working and thereby working out your own approach.
 
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