Some MS Word housekeeping and tips

by Heath Sledge

Viewing changes

You can control what changes you see. Under the Review tab, there's a dropdown menu; if you choose "All markup," all changes will show. If you choose "Simple markup," inline changes (insertions, deletions, moves, and formatting) will be hidden, but the comment bubbles will remain. If you choose "No markup," you'll see a completely clean copy of the document; the text will be the final version of my suggested edits to your manuscript, but it will look like a final copy. If you choose "Original markup," you'll see your original without my changes. (Switching back and forth between Original and other views will let you compare your original to my edited version.) 

Accepting/rejecting changes

You can go change by change if you like, but it's EXTREMELY tedious. (If you want to do this, there are buttons in the reviewing toolbar for you: next change and previous change to navigate through the document, and accept/reject change to act on each change as you come to it.

It's much more efficient to select a chunk of text where you want to accept/reject ALL the changes (a phrase or a sentence or a paragraph) and then click the "accept" (or "reject") button while the text is highlighted; that will accept/reject all the changes in only the selected text. 

To get rid of comments, you do have to go comment by comment, deleting each one; if you right-click the comment bubble, you can choose "delete" from the contextual menu that opens. Or you can send it to me when you're finished and I can delete them all at once with a macro.




Quick Tip: "elegant variation" wastes your readers' precious processing power

by Heath Sledge

In the piece I'm editing right now, my client was talking in one sentence about a set of "frameworks," and then in the next sentence she referred to some "tools." It took me about two seconds of puzzling before I realized that "tools" was referring back to the frameworks.

In academic writing, it's usually best to just use the same word for a key concept over and over rather than substituting synonyms.

Although our elementary school teachers insisted that we shouldn't use repetitive vocabulary, that's not necessarily true in academic writing. When the ideas are highly complex, the language shouldn't be.

Every time your reader has to stop and puzzle over what you meant ("are tools the same thing as frameworks?"), she uses a little bit of cognitive energy that should have gone towards understanding your argument.

Clear as many roadblocks as you can for the reader so she can focus on the logic and support and stakes of your argument. 


Quick Tip: paragraph transitions

by Heath Sledge

Transitions come at the beginning of the transitioned-to paragraph, not at the end of the transitioned-away-from paragraph.

The end of a paragraph is a spot for a button--like a punchline. It wraps up all the great info you gave in that paragraph into a tidy little sentence and puts a little rhetorical bow on it.

(If you want the long version, you can read more here.)

Quick Tip: Multiple long block quotations

by Heath Sledge

I used to call them "plop quotes" with my undergraduates. 

Quotations aren't a rest from the work of analysis and argumentation for the writer. Don't just drop long block quotes into your manuscript and run away, leaving your readers to figure out why they're there and how they relate to your argument.

Quote ONLY the important, memorable, salient phrases, and paraphrase the rest, connecting it to your argument. Show why your reader needs to bother with this material. You digest the quotations for your reader—you're the mama bird regurgitating this information into your readers' frantic, gaping beaks. They'll choke on anything too big. (Truly, most readers—EVEN ME—are inclined to skim block quotations; definitely don't bury crucial points in them.)