One time-consuming part of copyediting a manuscript is fine-tuning the formatting. This involves meticulously using the find-and-replace function to seek out double spaces, soft returns, non-curly quotation marks, hyphens that should be en or em dashes, and the like. For the past six years, I have been using a program called FileCleaner to quickly and efficiently deal with this monotony in one easy click. It’s my first step when opening a file.
FileCleaner is part of a larger suite of tools known as Editor’s Toolkit Plus, which has even more functionality during my edit. This program allows me to mark my place and easily find it again, quickly change italic text to Roman and vice versa, transpose words and characters, and much more. Honestly, I don’t use it to its fullest capacity, as I don’t often need tools like the Quark and InDesign converters. The bookmarking within a file is the most helpful, in my opinion; I use it all day long.
As with any program, you have to be smart about how you approach it. Generally speaking, it works as a set of macros. It won’t know what exceptions you have. For instance, it will delete the extra spaces that are necessary in imprint lines on the copyright page and will change the hyphens in ISBNs to en dashes if you’re not careful. Also, it’s important to note that FileCleaner doesn’t track its changes, even when Track Changes is on. I always make sure I relay any global edits–such as for spacing and curly quotation marks–to the author, especially if they aren’t tracked. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of a program will save you time and energy in the long run.
Editor’s Toolkit is not cheap, but depending on the amount of work that crosses your desk annually, it might be worth it.
Are there other programs out there you can recommend? Are there programs that have promised ease and made a file more confusing? Let us know!
PS: This is not a sponsored post; it is simply a personal review of an oft-used product.