As our name suggests, most of what we do here at Potomac Indexing is, well, indexing. However, we also do copyediting and proofreading, providing you with a single point of contact for a whole batch of production tasks. This is especially helpful with websites and book series, ensuring consistency of style.
One of my favorite tools to use for copyediting is a set of custom PDF stamps. These allow you to insert copyediting or proofreading marks in your PDF as if you were marking up by hand. Why is this important? Proofreading marks are an established standard and leave no room for ambiguity. I recently copyedited a Word document and used Track Changes. When the editor opened it on her computer, the comments weren’t visible—just the comment numbers! I had to reply with a list of the actual comments. Fortunately, it only took a couple of minutes to copy the comment list into an email, as the document was only a few pages. Imagine if it had been a 300-page manuscript!
The same can happen with a PDF. Different viewers display stickies and comments differently, and it can be stressful to ensure your client is able to read and understand all your notes. While Acrobat allows you to export your comment list to a text file, it’s not a very useful list and requires a lot of cleanup to be presentable to a client. Proofreading marks eliminate this worry, and are more concise than text comments.
Using stamps on a computer can take some getting used to. I prefer to do copyediting on a tablet—it’s more portable and it mimics the paper-and-pen environment in which I learned copyediting. For that, I like to use iAnnotate, but you can use stamps in just about any annotation app.
You can create custom stamps (here’s how to do it in Adobe Acrobat XI) by importing your own image files, which is helpful if you want to use different colors or have your own peculiar style. But, the easiest thing to do is to download a third-party set. Copyediting-L has both a red and a black set under the Resources tab. Because the stamps are PDF files, they should import into most readers—just check the installation instructions. For UK-specific stamps, Louise Harnby’s set is super. Her instructions and other articles about using stamps and proofreading are helpful for publishing folks on either side of the Pond.
How is this useful to indexers?
For copyediting our own indexes, of course. I use my stamps not only for copyediting jobs and my volunteer gig proofreading ASI’s quarterly, Key Words, but for each one of the indexes I produce. For that, I have created a set of custom stamps with my own quirky notes to self—reminders to pick up locators, move orphaned subheadings, add cross-references, or other index-specific editing tasks. Many other indexers still mark up their pages with indexing notes prior to entering the terms in their indexing software. Creating custom markup stamps means not having to print an entire book to do markup; you can have that same experience on your tablet.
Using PDF stamps saves me paper, time, and makes me more mobile, whether I’m editing at soccer practice or in the hammock in my backyard!
PI Pick of the Week
Louise Harnby’s Proofreading Parlour has been mentioned before—and in this very post!—but it’s really superb. Spend a few minutes or hours perusing her site. I guarantee you’ll pick up some new tip or better understanding that will make your job easier.