After the Edit

You’ve opened up the manuscript you got back from your editor and you may be amazed at how many changes have been made. If they’re using Word’s Tracking Changes, you’ll find your manuscript may be very colorful indeed. Now what?

If you’re not familiar with Word’s Tracking Changes, now’s the time to get to know it better. In Word 2010, you’ll find it under the Review tab. It’s the fourth section from the right. Proceeding left to right, you’ll see Proofing, Language, Comments, Tracking, Changes, Compare and Protect. Right now we’re going to look at Tracking. Your editor clicked on Track Changes to make her edits. This makes all changes visible and puts them in a different color than the original text. If you need to make changes and send the manuscript back, you’ll want to make sure Track Changes is enabled so your changes are made in a third color. This makes it easy for your editor to follow your changes.

If you’re ready to accept or reject changes, move one more topic to the right and find Changes. If you click Accept, the program will accept the change that is highlighted, making it black text, then it will move to the next change.  If you pull down the menu from the tiny little arrow under Accept, you can choose to accept and move on, just accept the change and remain there, accept all changes shown, or accept all changes in the entire document.

I highly recommend going through each change individually. By accepting all changes in the document, you may miss a spot where the edit accidentally included a space that was supposed to remain there, or maybe you don’t agree with a suggested edit. While it may seem tedious to go through the edits one by one, it will save you time and effort later when the document is all in black again and you can’t find what you’re looking for easily.

Just to the right of Accept is an icon with an X. This is for rejecting a suggested edit. If you use the drop down menu provided here, you’ll have the same options as were available under Accept.

Below the Reject icon are two icons with arrows, one facing left and one facing right. These will take you to the previous change or the next change.

After you’ve gone through all the edits, I suggest you do another spell check. Again, this helps find those little areas where spaces or other issues cropped up when edits were being made. Don’t want two spaces between a word or no space between two words. :)

After the spell check, it needs another read. Yes, you need to read it again. If you have the funds, now is the time for a proofread. Some people find reading a manuscript backwards will help them find any tiny errors that may have escaped everyone that has seen it. It does happen.

Once your manuscript is all clean, make sure it is formatted in the form required from the agent/publisher you are submitting it to. In the case of self-publishing, this means you need proper indents for each paragraph (often without using tabs), proper chapter headings, page numbers if applicable (not used in ebooks), and so on. If you’ve got it all done according to the format you wish to use, your manuscript may be ready to head out into the world.