Thank you, Microsoft!

Now I will never have to buy any of your products again!

The latest issue of Editorium Update has arrived, and Jack Lyon reports the following:

Word 2008, for Macintosh, isn’t out yet but will be later this year:

Like Word 2007 for Windows, it will feature the Ribbon interface, with all of the drawbacks I discussed in the previous newsletter:

But there’s one more drawback that will be utterly devastating: No more recording, programming, or even running of macros.

(hysterical emphasis mine)

No macros.

No. Macros. At all.

According to this Macworld article, you’ll be able to do macro-type-things using Applescript and Automator and whatever—I confess that I have not tried to wrap my head around that stuff at all yet; go ahead; suspend my Geek license—but if I have to write my own scripts, why the fuck would I write them to control Word? If I’m going to put that kind of effort into something, obviously it would make more sense to trick out a free word processor than a piece of overpriced bloatware from a company that has demonstrated time and time again that it doesn’t want my business.


Checking Proofs

How much of a designer’s work consists of actual designing as opposed to meeting, doing paperwork, fiddling with FTP software, watching YouTube, organizing bloated font libraries, etc.? It depends on what kind of design you do, and what kind of place you work, but for most designers I’d guess that designing proper accounts for less than half of their time at work. Maybe less than a third. Of course, designers also tend to be constantly thinking about design, so you could say they’re designing around the clock; but while their heads are doing one thing, their hands are quite likely having to do another much less interesting thing.

For me, the bulk of my job consists of checking proofs. Not proofreading, which we hire someone to do, nor comparing old and new passes of a manuscript to make sure editorial corrections have been made correctly, which the production editor does, but checking for layout errors. There’s plenty of instruction on regular proofreading to be had (I recommend Mark My Words, if you want to go the book route; I’ve never taken a class in it myself, but I know many who’ve done so at NYU and the New School in NYC), but nobody’s ever told me how to check page layouts.

Well, not nobody. On my first or second day at this job, my teammate gave me a stack of manuscript and said to look for “weirdness.” That’s a bit vague for me, so in the past six months, I’ve come up with my own system:

Proofing notes

Hello, my name is India, and I am a geek. Continue reading “Checking Proofs”


As you may know, I was holding my breath for the release of the Chicago Manual of Style CD-ROM for something like two years. I had even written UChi Press a letter saying that I would gladly pay twice the price of the dead-tree edition for a searchable version that could live on my hard drive. So of course, I was very excited when I saw that the CD-ROM was finally shipping from—excited enough to bring fame, if not fortune, upon my ditzy little head—and zip! I ordered it. I was taking advantage of a free trial of’s “Prime” delivery service at the time, so the disk was in my hands almost immediately. And over the last several weeks, as I tried to get various freelance millstones off my neck, I’ve used it for nearly all my Chicago-look-upping needs (which, since I’m such an infrequent editorial freelancer nowadays, are vast).

So, you ask, was it worth the anticipation, and the sixty extra bucks? (They clearly took me at my word about the price.)

Weeeeeelllllll . . . if I were travelling, it would be better than nothing. But it’s slow in loading any item longer than a paragraph. I see a great deal of this:

CMS loading (detail)

In fact, I clocked it at one minute seventeen seconds to load the first few pages of chapter 5’s Glossary of Troublesome Expressions. It is therefore just as well, I suppose, that the rest of the pages in that section—everything after the word “or” in the entry for “censer; censor, n.; sensor”—is missing. Because it would take the better part of an hour for it to appear on the screen.

CMS bug (detail)
Continue reading “CMS 15 CD-ROM NFG :(“


Sorry for the lack of posts this week. You know how I was procrastinating for a while? Yeah, well, sometimes fake deadlines turn into real ones. I’ll be copyediting and typesetting interviews all this week.

In the meantime, you can develop a sympathetic editorial cramp by contributing to the e-book booty-creation process over at Distributed Proofreading, where for One! Day! Only! they are celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day in style:

Ahoy There: About This Site

Distributed Proofreaders be founded in 2000 by Cap’n Charles ‘Squirrel King’ Franks to support th’ digitisation o’ Public Domain book-booty. Originally chartered to assist Project Gut’nberg (PG), Distributed Proofateers (DP) be now th’ main source of PG e-books. In 2002, Distributed Privateers received their letter of marque from Project Gut’nberg and as such be supported by Project Gut’nberg. All our proofreaders, managers, developers, deckhands and so on be volunteers. . . .

Here be th’ Site Concept

This ‘ere site provides a web-based method o’ easin’ th’ proofreadin’ work associated wi’ th’ digitization o’ Public Domain books into Project Gut’nberg e-books. By divvying up th’ work into individual pages many fine, feisty swashbucklers can be attacking th’ same book at th’ same time. This significantly speeds up th’ proofreading/e-book booty-creation process.

My project goes to press on Friday. See you after that date.


Dudes! The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (CD-ROM) is in stock! This is huge!

I am a big fan of having all my reference books on the computer. It’s so much faster than thumbing through a big fat book, much as I enjoy looking at the big fat book in my leisure time.

Note also that CMS Online is about to launch, and you’ll get a free trial if you’re registered there already. This is not a useful format for me—I often cram in freelance work when I’m without an Internet connection, traveling or whatnot—but maybe it’s right for somebody out there.

Castoff viewed from an editor’s chair

Here’s an illuminating take on castoff from Teresa Nielsen Hayden, empress of the awesome blog Making Light and editor of Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin, which just won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novel:

This morning I find myself thinking about how I went to the wall when Tor’s previous head of production grossly miscalculated Spin’s castoff, and wanted to raise its price based on her overlong estimated length. That would have been corrected when Spin was typeset, and the price would have been readjusted downward; but that artificially high price would have been in play during the period when advance orders were solicited, and would have resulted in fewer orders.

So it’s probably safer to underestimate a book’s castoff than to overestimate it (though I’m sure an accurate castoff is the goal, all around).

On Thursday I started working on a composition order for a book whose castoff according to the worksheet was 320, yet whose editor asked for a page count of 256. My response on reading the transmittal was a hearty snork. For a hardcover-only design I might have been able to do something about it (something uncommonly ugly, but that’s still something). However, because this book was to be shot down to mass market, and because it was supposed to be following a previously established series design that used a rather uneconomical typeface for the body text, the closest I could get was 304. When I took the sample pages upstairs to show Mr. Lint Trap, to my surprise he said that 304—or even 320—would be fine with him, and that the editor probably hadn’t even seen the castoff before making the request for 256. Okay, that makes sense.

The thing about hitting 304 pages vs. 320, though, is that there’s a retail price jump between them—$23.95 to $24.95—so the 304-page book will cost the publisher more than a 256-pager would in typesetting, printing, paper, freight, and everything else, but it might possibly make that up in sales by avoiding the chilling effect on the consumer of a 320-pager’s $1 higher sticker price. Possibly.

Then again, the typesetter may not be able to hold it at 304 pages after all. They’ve been hitting castoff with most of my designs, but occasionally something weird comes out. We’ll see.

Don't leave me dangling

Checking some proofs the other day, an error leaped out at me. Appearing on the acknowledgments page, I couldn’t help noticing this dangling modifier:

Like all other authors . . . , there are many others who helped me get this book together.

Leading a paragraph in which the author thanks his two proofreaders, I needn’t point out the irony of this error.

Can you see it? It’s a dangling modifier, and if the text of this post so far has set your teeth on edge but you can’t quite identify why, it may be because all three of my own sentences surrounding that quotation start with danglers. (To fix the quote, I’d recast the second part so that its subject is “I.”)

Here’s a dangler from a novel I set a few years ago (rendered from memory): Continue reading “Don't leave me dangling”

Footnotes, Endnotes—Let's call the whole thing off!

I just had a long back-and-forth with a production editor who was making the final corrections to a nonfiction manuscript with lots of notes. When she mentioned that she was “reorganizing” the footnotes, which I took to mean cutting them out and pasting them into a separate document, I immediately wrote back to say that

I’d kind of rather if you didn’t move the footnotes, though I appreciate the sentiment, of course, as the coder-to-be. They need to be converted to endnotes, sure, but that’s a global command in Word. And I’ll wrangle them further using my top-secret note-stripping weapon, known as NoteStripper. Moving them manually tends to lead to corruption, hair-pulling, and woe.

And then she wrote back,

That’s the thing, India, I think this book has footnotes AND endnotes. I will confirm with editor…

And then I wrote back, even more apprehensive,

Well, if the footnotes are to stay footnotes and the endnotes are to stay endnotes, then *especially* don’t move the footnotes. I’m using InDesign CS2, which is perfectly capable of setting embedded footnotes.

And then she sent me the file and wrote,

The editor now tells me the endnotes REPLACE the footnotes, and the author just could not figure out how to delete the embedded footnotes (and, alas, neither can I).

Aha. This is a common problem authors have, and in trying to get around it they tend to make everything worse—utterly breaking the embedded notes and making them a nightmare to set. Perhaps you are ignorant in this matter, as well? Just in case, I present, dear reader, my final volley: Continue reading “Footnotes, Endnotes—Let's call the whole thing off!”