Paraphrasing Paul Beverley, Advanced Professional Member CIEP and macro guru, macros are programs that, like apps, do something. Since I don’t know anything about coding, I will keep these comments brief. If you can imagine a macro to do a particular task, you (or someone who does know coding) can probably write one to do it. I started using macros when a LinkedIn connection mentioned Paul Beverley and macros helping with the editing process. Once I started working with macros, I quickly realized how macros can improve my accuracy and efficiency. So, here is how I use macros in my copy editing and proofreading.
I have three phases of editing and macros come in handy in each of them. In the first phase, I use macros to set the language of the entire document, highlight potential article usage errors, pull out potential spelling errors, and so on. Usually a hard and fast rule applies to these types of errors and I can quickly mark them for later or make decisions on them right away. For example, the journal article must be written in UK English; or certain field-specific words aren’t found in my dictionary, so I look them up to confirm spelling and then use a macro to highlight the truly incorrect words. Macros allow me to do this quickly and efficiently; they give me a sense of how much editing will be needed in the document and what I errors I need to be on the lookout for.
In my second phase of editing, I consistently use a different set of macros. My current favorites include “InstantJumpUp/Down”, “PunctuationToTimesSign”, “WhatChar”, and “CommentJumpInOut”. If I’m not if a special character is the correct one, I use the “WhatChar” macro to find out. Do I need to go to the next instance of a phrase? I use “InstantJumpDown”. These are assigned shortcut keys so that I can almost exclusively use the keyboard instead of the mouse—thereby avoiding repetitive strain injury (more on that in another blog)—allowing me to quickly edit throughout the manuscript.
My final phase is clean. I run the usual spellcheck and find and replace tools. I use a macro to tabulate my comments so that I can double check them for consistency and errors. My favorite macros at this stage are “HighlightFindDown” and “UnHighlightAndColour”. Instead of paging through the text, I can quickly go to a highlighted section and then remove that same color within the rest of the paper.
There you go! These are the Paul Beverley macros that I find helpful and use for almost every editing and writing project. Not only can you get these macros free from Paul Beverley, but he has a YouTube channel on how to use macros. Now go out there and learn how to use these powerful tools!
Why do you need a proofreader? Here are four reasons: typos, grammar, diction, and syntax. This blog is about those innocent mistakes—typos. In any field, typos, short for typographical errors, can cost time and money, but in research and science, typos can cost you credibility as well.
It is difficult to plan, write, and publish scientific papers. Not only do you need to organize your research logically, but you also need to submit the manuscript to an appropriate journal and satisfy peer review critiques. Typos are distractions to your audience and can cause delay in publication. Even worse, typos, no matter how innocent, may cost you credibility with your audience. Why, you may ask? Surely everyone makes these mistakes, right? Yes. But the meticulous author will go through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb to try to catch these errors. A researcher may be considered lazy if the manuscript is riddled with typos. Furthermore, this perception of laziness in the writing process may shift to a conception that the scientist was also lazy during research. At best, typos cause delay or distraction, but at worst they can be embarrassing or hurt your reputation.
Here's an example from my own life that shows how a simple typo may have cost me credibility as a capable researcher. Although this example isn’t from a paper I wrote, it shows how a small typo can cause big embarrassment.
I was presenting my research at a job interview. Most of the slides were made months before and had been presented at group meetings more than once. I was in the groove; describing the why and how of my doctorate research. Everything was going well, until an audience member raised his hand and said, “Did you know you have a typo on that slide? Your group mates should have caught that.” What typo? Where? I stumbled; it took me a few moments to even find the typo. I had written a chemical formula wrong: LiAl4H instead of LiAlH4. One simple mistake and my whole presentation was thrown off.
Did this error cost me a job offer? Probably not; I made a few other mistakes that day. But it was embarrassing, and it did not convey the message that I was prepared for my interview.
Proofreading is an extremely important step for scientific and technical writing. We all make mistakes and a proofreader’s job is to find those remaining typos. If you don’t have the budget for a proofreader, make sure every author has read through the text thoroughly and ask a peer not involved in writing to take a look. Even if you think you don’t have time, don’t skip this step. Leaving easily fixed mistakes in your manuscript may cost you more than you expect.