When you’re editing in Microsoft Word, there are some fantastic tools available that can both save time and improve the quality of your work. My three favourites are PerfectIt, Editor’s Toolkit Plus and PhraseExpress. And the good news is that, as of July 2018, there are versions of all three tools for Macs as well as PCs.
#1 – PerfectIt
PerfectIt gets the number 1 spot because it is both incredibly useful and user-friendly. This add-in to MS Word picks up inconsistencies in, for example, spelling, capitalisation, hyphenation and use of abbreviations. PerfectIt also has built-in style sheets that make it easy to adhere to particular spellings (e.g. US, UK, Canadian or Australian) or style preferences (e.g. European Union or United Nations). And PerfectIt can save you time by doing repetitive tasks – such as putting a nonbreaking space between all the numbers and units (e.g. 5 cm) – in one fell swoop.
Although I’ve been using PerfectIt for at least 8 years, when I run it on a document I still find myself thinking ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’. Also, the range of things it can do keeps expanding, and the customer support is fast, efficient and friendly. PerfectIt has been for PC only up till now, but on 26 June 2018 a Mac version will be available, as either a one-off purchase or a
subscription. You can try the program for free for 14 days at http://www.intelligentediting.com/default.aspx.
The Facebook group PerfectIt users is an excellent source of support, and if you are using the PC version of PerfectIt, my short online courses – Introduction to PerfectIt and Advanced PerfectIt – will help you take full advantage of the program’s many features.
Editor’s Toolkit Plus is another invaluable tool for editors, but is not quite as user-friendly as PerfectIt. I use it to clean up a document before starting work; for example, for removing double spaces and double returns, and replacing hyphens with en dashes in spans of numbers. Helpfully, the program automatically turns off tracking when doing this clean up, so the client isn’t alarmed by a sea of minor changes. One of the most useful features is the set of single keystrokes for italicising words, changing case (e.g. from initial capitals to lowercase), and showing or hiding tracking – as someone prone to repetitive strain or overuse injuries, I really appreciate this feature. As with PerfectIt, the latest version of Editor’s Toolkit Plus is available for Mac as well as PC, and you can try it for free for 45 days at http://www.editorium.com/ETKPlus2018.htm.
The third of my favourite tools is the text expander PhraseExpress. It works much like the ‘AutoCorrect’ function in MS Word, but is fully customisable, and it works across all applications, not just MS Word. You simply type a snippet (a few letters) that you have chosen, and PhraseExpress turns it into a phrase. Thus, I type ‘oecdx’ (the snippet I have set) and ‘Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’ appears on the screen. This saves time and improves accuracy, because once you have entered the term correctly into PhraseExpress, it will always have the correct spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation. PhraseExpress is particularly useful for creating shortcuts for text you use often, such as your email address or comments to authors. The program is available for both PCs and Macs, and you can try it free for 30 days at http://www.phraseexpress.com/.\
Hilary Cadman has a strong science background (a PhD and 20 years in research and teaching), and more than 20 years experience as a writer, editor and trainer. Her editing qualifications include Editor in the Life Sciences with BELS, advanced membership of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and accreditation with the Institute of Professional Editors. Clients include the World Health Organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, OPTUM, the University of Southern Queensland and various Australian Government departments. She helps clients to produce documents that are clear, concise and appropriate for their target audience. She also offers training and coaching for groups and individuals.