Techniques for Editing Online: Abbreviations & Macros

Macros and abbreviations are wonderful tools to get to know—especially for over-worked editors who find themselves making the same comment over and over again.

Abbreviations

Applications like Word and WordPerfect have a feature—called AutoText and Abbreviations, respectively—that enable you to set up an abbreviation and then expand it to its full version. For example, in Word, you can set up the abbreviation acc, press F3, and have it expand to Austin Community College.

To create an abbreviation in Word:

  1. Open Word to a new document: click on the Word icon, then on File, and then on New.
  2. Type out a long phrase such as Austin Community College and then highlight it with the mouse.
  3. Click on Insert and then on AutoText. (Remember that some text must be highlighted.)
  4. In the Name field, type acc, and then click on Add.
  5. Now, move somewhere else in the document. Type acc and then press F3. The abbreviation will expand to the full version.


Imagine the uses for this abbreviations feature. As an editor, you make certain comments again and again. In the process you become increasingly terse and decreasingly explanatory. You can design an abbreviation to be wonderfully verbose and helpful. You can even include references to standard grammar books. And then every time you see the problem, you can be as fresh and explanatory as the first time you ever made the comment.

To distinguish your edit comment from the writer's original text, you may want to put your comment within brackets and give it a different color. To change color, highlight the comment text, click on Format and then on Font. Click on Color in the Color Options: field and select the color you want. Then set up the abbreviation item.

Macros

Macros offer a different set of online editing possibilities. You can use them to highlight text with a different color and to insert comments or suggested revisions. You can also set up a macro that strikes through text and turns it a different color.

Comment insert. Start with a macro that inserts a pair of brackets, turns the font blue, and places the cursor between the brackets—all with one keystroke.

To create a comment macro:

  1. Open Word to a new file. (This same procedure can be done in WordPerfect, with a different set of keystrokes.)
  2. Click on Tools, then on Macro, and then on Record New Macro. (Word is a bit cranky as to how it implements naming macros; we're skipping it!)
  1. In the next dialog box, make a mental note of the macro number, and then press Keyboard.
  1. In this next dialog box, press Alt-1 (the number one), and then click on Assign and then Close. You'll now have a little record stop/pause icon on the screen.
  1. Carefully type a left bracket, then a right bracket, and then a space. Move back to the left one space, highlight the two brackets, click on Format and then on Font, select a color (red if you're a mean editor!), and then move to the text cursor between the two brackets.
  2. Press the square on the left side of the record icon to complete the macro.
  3. Now go somewhere else in this file, and try pressing Alt-1.

Text highlight. For various reasons, as an online editor, you'll want to highlight text with a different color—for example, to tag it to some comment.

To create a highlight macro:

  1. Open a new file in Word, type several lines of text, and then highlight a word or phrase.
  2. Click on Tools, then on Macro, and then on Record New Macro. (Again, we're not going to name this macro.)
  3. In this dialog box, make a mental note of the macro number, and then press Keyboard.
  4. In this next dialog box, press Alt-2, and then click on Assign and then Close.
  5. Click on Format, then on Font, and select a highlighting color.
  6. Press the square on the left side of the record icon to complete the macro.
  7. Now highlight some other segment of text, and try pressing Alt-2.
See the preceding for illustrations of steps 1-4.)


In my own practice, I have macros set up for different colors (including black in case I mess up). I have macros for different colors of insertion brackets and a red-strikethrough macro.

However, when writers get a file marked up this way, they must manually must go through delete or change everything. Software like Word, WordPerfect, and FrameMaker offer these track-change functions natively.


Programs and information provided by hcexres@prismnet.com.