Dun Writin’—Now Whut? – 41 Self-Editing Part 3 (A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing)


Self-Editing Part 3

If you missed them, you can find Self-Editing Part 1 HERE and Self-Editing Part 2 HERE.

This interim series offers other, specific self-editing tasks that can be done when a manuscript’s completed to help polish it. Since there are many of these odd jobs, this specific post will continue over time.

Today I’m going to review two tasks that I automatically perform on each manuscript I edit.

The first is to eliminate double spaces. Some of us learned to type a long time ago when the standard for spacing after the end of a sentence was two spaces: period, space, space, new sentence. This was originally implemented as a “rule” because of monospaced fonts, also called fixed-pitch, fixed-width, or non-proportional fonts. These are/were fonts whose letters and characters each occupy the same amount of horizontal space. (This contrasts with variable-width fonts, where the letters differ in size from one another, as do spacings in between many letters.) Since typewriters, in the beginning, only produced in one font, a double spacing was left between sentences to aid in reading ease.

With the implementation of proportional fonts in computers, a double space after a period was no longer necessary. So, if you’re a dinosaur, like me, whose thumb automatically puts two spaces after the end of a sentence, you can remove them all quite easily when you’re done typing by replacing <space space> with <space> using the Find/Replace feature. (Official typesetting in the publishing industry always used one space after a sentence.) Or you can retrain your thumb…whichever you find easier.

Using Find/Replace in this way also will remove any accidental double spaces between words. WARNING: If you have *deliberate* multi-spaced areas in your book (such as charts or graphs where you used spaces instead of tabs or a table), using this Find/Replace operation will mess up your spacing.

The second task I automatically perform is to use the Find/Replace option a second time to replace all “ (quote marks) with “ (quote marks), and ‘ (apostrophes) with ‘ (apostrophes). Why in the world am I replacing a character with the same character? Because Microsoft Word does not always insert a “smart (curly) quote” in place of a “dumb quote” when you’re typing.

A curly quote mark curves toward the material it’s enclosing. I don’t think I can demonstrate it here, as The Story Reading Ape copies and pastes this information into WordPress, and if I deliberately put in a “dumb” quote mark, I believe pasting it will turn it into a curly quote. This site (http://www.sitepoint.com/whats-so-smart-about-those-quotes/) contains a very good illustration showing the difference between smart and dumb quotes in various fonts.

Microsoft Word is supposed to automatically change all quote marks to curly if you have that option turned on (see this Windows 7 help article for turning them on or off https://support.office.com/en-ca/article/Change-curly-quotes-to-straight-quotes-and-vice-versa-017963a0-bc5f-486b-9c9d-0ec511a8fb8f), but it doesn’t always work. Replacing them all using Find/Replace at the end of writing your book ensures they’re all curly; not half one way and half the other—very unprofessional. This is another feature of the publishing industry that the typesetting department used to take care of, but now you’ll need to ensure it’s correct to have a professional-looking manuscript.

We’re Dun for today, so keep on Writin’!


Susan Uttendorfsky

Owner, Adirondack Editing




13 thoughts on “Dun Writin’—Now Whut? – 41 Self-Editing Part 3 (A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing)

  1. Here’s another helpful trick. If you want to get rid of all tabs (who doesn’t?), just use Find and Replace as follows:
    In the “find” box enter “^t” (without the quote marks), then, in the replace box don’t enter anything. Hit replace all, and voila the tabs are gone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good tip, Joe! Many authors use the tab key to indent the first line of their paragraphs, but when formatting, it’s better to edit a Style to automatically indent the first line, and delete all the tabs. Thanks for sharing that! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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