Have you ever been frustrated by the Edit Tracking feature in your MS Word program? I have.
Years ago, 15 plus now, I found the – tracking of editing – function included in my MS Word program… well, it was irritating at best. Okay, it was a smidgen helpful… but, it was difficult to follow for myself and for all of my clients. But all has not been lost.
You see, I was lucky enough to have a couple of sight-impaired clients who needed an easier system. They needed a system that would enable them to know what they needed changed and easily understand why this editor saw the need for a change in their manuscript(s). This inspired me to devise a color-coded editing system for my sight impaired client(s). And then I said to myself (and I recognized it to be me because I sounded so much like myself) why limit this color-coded editing system to just your partially sighted clients; especially when this system helps you be consistent?
It’s not a big mystery that tracking the changes in some manner is a good idea, but how and what works best? I am not sure if I can say what is the best way, but I know I have found something that works.
Personally, I change the colors of the fonts as follows:
Blue — I use this color to indicate something I have change or added in. For example: if I change a comma to a period, if I change a lower case letter to an upper case letter… I turn that blue. If I add words into a sentence, to flesh out the sentence or make it say what they meant to say or correct the tense of a word… I turn that blue as well.
Red — I use this color font for my questions, i.e. [did you mean John or Sam …?]
Purple — I sometimes highlight the thing that I have the question about.
Yellow — I turn the font yellow and add a Strikethrough for punctuation and words I believe need to be taken out of the document.
Green — I use this color font for my general comments.
In addition, I put my comments in square brackets so they stand out and are easier to remove later.
Editing is a meant to aid others by setting a fresh set of educated unbiased eyes on something written. This Color-Coded Editing system was born out of necessity over 15 years ago by me to help others. I quickly came to find it most helpful to all of my clients and myself. Because they can, for example, blow up the page, via the “View” and “Zoom” function, big as they need it, scroll down the document whether it is a one page resume, a short story, white paper, or a full manuscript and not only see the changes/edits, but address, for example all of the Red (the unclear spots in their manuscript) and know that this editor has questions about what they wrote and something needs clarifying. Thus making the unclear thoughts etc. easier to locate and something they can deal with first before going back and looking at the things I think they should take out and the things I have added in.
One client would even send me the chapters back with all of the color-coded editing marks in it, plus one more. He would answer my questions, which he found in Red, in Brown which helped me finish the editing of that section.
I have also found that if someone makes me laugh or cry or actually feel something, I let them know this via the Green comments. It’s a great way to give feedback to things. And if you are helping the writer learn a bit about English grammar or merely let them know why you are making a certain change, you may even say something towards the affect of [we put the punctuation inside the quotation marks.]
SAMPLE OF EDITING
…Again, I think every director should know the craft terms, or in other words know the
tools terms of the actors and directors use (objectives, action verbs, images, substitutions, inner monologue and so on). While keeping in mind that you are doing your work, you should stand your ground as an artist. We will explore 17 tools of director [do you mean ‘of direction’ or ‘that directors use’?] in this chapter with samples and explanations.
One of the essential
duty duties and responsibility responsibilities of a director is directing actors. We are beginning our critical look into the director’s “toolbox” – discovering, step-by-step, what it takes and what you need to know in order to direct actors successfully. [In this paragraph, Sentence 2, you speak of actors staying true to their craft and now you are, in Sentence 5, you are switching and speaking to directors. This is not good.] First at all, the director is an artist. Directing is a craft. Good directing is a skill. [Good. I like the short sentences and you make good points here.] ….
This Color-Coded system works for me as well when the client subsequently decides they want a clean copy sent back to them, because I know what is highlight and meant to be kept and what needs to be delete before selecting “All” and turning the copy to black. I hope it inspires you to devise your own, piggy-back off of mine or just let you know that you are not alone when it comes to desiring a less cumbersome way to track your edits, do a good jog, help your clients and make your response to their work easy for them to understand and follow.