Review: Geoff Hart’s Effective Onscreen Editing, 3rd Edition

Back in 2007, I reviewed the first edition of Geoff Hart’s book Effective Onscreen Editing, which I still keep close at hand on my bookshelf. Why? Because it’s one of the best books ever written about how to edit on a computer, packed with real-world information you’ll find nowhere else.

My own books (such as Wildcard Cookbook for Microsoft Word) are related specifically to a certain piece of software, but the beauty of Geoff’s book is that it applies to any software an editor might use, on either Macintosh or PC (or a Linux box, for that matter). As Geoff explains, “The overall goal is to teach editing strategies, not specific software.” And in that, the book succeeds admirably.

Geoff covers all of the essentials a working editor needs to consider, including the kind of technical matters that most interest me:

  • Personalizing your software
  • Navigating and selecting text
  • Inserting and deleting text
  • Tracking revisions
  • Using comments
  • Using search tools to improve consistency
  • Developing style sheets
  • Using spelling and grammar checkers
  • Automating editing tasks

He also covers business matters, such as:

  • Determining your pay rate
  • Negotiating with clients
  • Dealing with contracts

But Geoff also addresses the ever-important human side of the editing equation, discussing such matters as:

  • Encouraging dialogue and communication
  • Security and confidentiality
  • E-mail alternatives
  • Avoiding repetitive-stress injury and other physical problems

In this new edition, Geoff has added important information about recent developments that I’ve seen covered nowhere else:

  • Collaborative, real-time editing over the Web.
  • Important new software tools for imposing consistency and applying publisher style requirements.
  • Proofreading PDF files, online documents, and Web pages.

You’ll find more information about the new edition here. And you’ll find a detailed table of contents here.

If you’re a working editor, you owe it to yourself to buy and read this book, which is available in print, as a nicely formatted and hyperlinked PDF, and as an ebook (free with the PDF) for use with small tablets and smartphones. I make no money from the sale of this book; I’m just an ardent fan. As I said of the first edition, I give it my highest recommendation. And besides, as an excellent writer and a respected teacher known for generously sharing his expertise, Geoff deserves your support. You can purchase the book here.

Many thanks to Geoff for creating this wonderful resource.

Hart, G. 2016. Effective onscreen editing: new tools for an old profession. 3rd ed. Diaskeuasis Publishing, Pointe-Claire, Quebec.
Printed version: 518 p. ISBN 978-1-927972-04-5
PDF version (suitable for most table computers): 827 p. ISBN 978-1-927972-05-2
EPUB version: (unpaginated) ISBN 978-1-927972-06-9


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