Dr Hilary Cadman is a technical editor and trainer, currently living in New South Wales, Australia. She is an editing tools enthusiast, with a knack for teaching others how to use tools in their editorial work. We caught up with Hilary to find out what tools she uses, how she came to use these tools, and how these tools have impacted her editorial work.
What kind of editing do you do?
I’m a technical editor, so most of my work is reports from big organisations or government departments. I used to focus on agriculture and the environment, but now most of my work is medical.
What led you to become an editor?
Serendipity! I was lecturing in biochemistry in Zimbabwe in 1998 when I decided to change direction and take a masters in science communication in London. As part of that course, I did work experience in Australia, where someone invited me to a dinner with a group of women involved in science and engineering. One of those women was a science editor who was running her own business and thinking of employing someone. She asked if I’d done any editing as part of my MSc and I proudly said ‘Yes, we did 2 hours!’ Despite that, she took me on, and I worked with her for 10 years before going freelance in 2009.
What are some of your best editing efficiencies?
I love using shortcuts to speed up repetitive tasks, but probably what makes me most efficient is having a fantastic team of colleagues who assist with copyediting and reference management. This improves the quality of the final product and means I can take on a greater volume of work.
I love using shortcuts to speed up repetitive tasks…
What editing tools do you use?
PerfectIt, Editor’s ToolKit Plus (ETK+) and PhraseExpress (a text expander) are my main tools. I also use macros to speed up repetitive tasks, generally by recording them (I’ve never quite got to grips with the VBA interface for macros), and I use EndNote wherever possible for reference management. And when editing long documents, I use Dragon voice recognition software for at least part of the day, to guard against RSI (or OOS as it is now known).
[Note: Some of Hilary’s tool picks are our picks. See the editing tools we use to develop online courses at Queen’s Professional Studies.]
If you could only use one editing tool, what would it be?
That would be tough. I love PerfectIt, but I only run that once or twice on a document, whereas I’m constantly using the ETK+ shortcuts. Perhaps I’d cheat, and keep PerfectIt but create my own macros to replace the ETK+ shortcuts I can’t do without 😊.
I’d say, tools are worth the investment of your time and money, and they pay for themselves quickly.
What got you interested in editing tools?
Working in an office, I was surrounded by colleagues who were quick and efficient in Word, and were constantly having to help me out (I was the office dunce). When I started my own business, I realised I need to get my act together, so I took courses in Word (face to face and online) and joined discussion boards (e.g. on LinkedIn). As my skills improved, I became enthusiastic about helping other editors to see the value of being competent in Word and using various editing tools.
What difference have editing tools made to the work you do?
The tools make me faster and more efficient, and produce better quality documents. The editing still seems to take just as long, but I think that’s because our standards rise, so we use the extra time to do things that otherwise would have been outside the scope of the project. For me, tools have also led to a new business opportunity, creating online courses for fellow editors. I’ve currently got two PerfectIt courses (introduction and advanced), and I am about to launch an EndNote course.
As my skills improved, I became enthusiastic about helping other editors to see the value of being competent in Word and using various editing tools.
What would your advice be to editors who aren’t sure about using editing tools?
I’d say, tools are worth the investment of your time and money, and they pay for themselves quickly. It’s best to start small, and become confident with one tool, then try another. Probably the best place to start is with PerfectIt (now available for both Mac and PC), because it will save you time and improve the quality of your work. And you’ve got nothing to lose – you can get the trial version for 2 weeks for free, and all you have to do is install it, launch it and press ‘Start’. Also, if you work with Word (as most editors do), I recommend taking courses to become confident and proficient in using the program – if I can become competent in Word, anyone can!
What’s next for you?
I’ve got lots of ideas for new courses, and I’ve just started working with a marketing professional to get my current courses out to a wider audience. I’m also planning to revamp my blog, where I will give lots of free tips to help my fellow editors to love Word and embrace the tools that are available to them.
What do you like to do when you’re not editing?
I love making things, and I’ve been into knitting and crochet since I was a child. Recently, I’ve branched out into ceramics and woodwork – I’m currently at the ‘consciously incompetent’ stage in both those arts, but I’m really enjoying the challenge of learning new skills. My other passion is ecofriendly housing, and I recently spent 4 days helping to build a strawbale house.
To learn more about Dr Hilary Cadman’s work, visit Cadman Editing Services.
Did you know? The tools that Dr Hilary Cadman uses are discussed in our Professional Editing Standards Certificate courses. For more information about our courses, go to https://professionalstudies.educ.queensu.ca/