Effective Onscreen Editing: New tools for an old profession

Reviewed by Kay Vreeland

Effective onscreen editing: New tools for an old profession, by Geoff Hart. Pointe-Claire, Quebec: Diaskeuasis Publishing, 2007. 723 pages. Ebook. ISBN 978-0-9783227-0-0. US$20 outside Canada.

Do you use MS Word or other applications to edit documents onscreen and think you know exactly how to do it? After using Geoff Hart’s eBook, based on his column for Intercom, the magazine published by the Society for Technical Communication (STC), you will likely think differently. Optimized for onscreen reading, the eBook’s main sections are reachable from hyperlinks in the ToC, all page numbers in the index are hyperlinked, and the full text is easily searched using Acrobat Reader’s Find tool. The hardback edition is due in November 2007 (about 360 pp.).

A number of tips fall into the “coping” category, to aid dealing not only with electronic word processor functions, but also with “the human factor.” Developing style sheets for editing jobs, proofing online information, solving the proofreading problem, and searching online are among other welcome areas addressed in detail. But the bulk of the book is user-friendly technical, for those of us who know enough to do the job but not enough to do it extremely efficiently. It is sprinkled with non-technical epigraphs as well as fascinating sidebars throughout and threaded with a dedication to explaining “why,” and so it works on all the levels I’d always hoped to find in one place.

Resources are not neglected. There are hyperlinked references within the text and sections devoted to Internet and software resources. The bibliography gives only four references to the author’s work, but anyone connected online in the field knows Geoff Hart is indefatigable as contributor and mentor in wide circles on the Web.

In brief: an invaluable book.

From Newsletter No. 117 (October 2007)                                                              

(© 2007 Kay Vreeland)