This Mellel Feature Saves Us Editors Hours of Tedious Work
Hi, I’m Ori.
I’m not just the product director of Mellel. I’m also an editor.
I’ve been an editor for something like 25 years now. I’ve literally edited everything: from newspaper articles to magazine pieces, to lamely (or brilliantly) written academic works. Wikipedia articles, novels, books by friends, and books by foes. Translated books and even my own books — you name it, I’ve done it.
The one thing you learn after editing, say, 20,000,000 words or so, is that the most difficult thing about editing is not editing, but re-editing. That is, the more you edit text, the more you encounter the same errors time and time again.
If you regularly handle text from certain professionals (e.g., magazine staff writers, professors, students, or translators), you’ll probably develop a system to eliminate common errors.
Which means a style guide. You pour all your editing angst into a carefully tailored list of dos-and-don’ts, list of terms, warnings, recommendations, how-to’s, and so on.
The guide does the job as much as it can do it. It’s a guide, but alas, not more than that. Execution is up to us. We’ll inevitably get less errors, but unfortunately, we’ll probably still get some of them.
The Find Set
Which brings us to Mellel. One of the things I wanted to achieve with Mellel was to find a way to relieve some of this editing angst — to operationalize those style guides in the most succinct way. It would be independent of what writers may or may not catch; free from the limitations of the human eye — which almost always spots some mistakes and misses others. Basically, I wanted something that reduced human errors, as well.
Mellel’s Find Set does just this. With it, I translated all of my style guides into Find Actions, which will spot everything, everywhere, and every time.
First, start small.
I created small sets that were book-specific. This included spelling standards, diacritics, and so on. I added some common layout guidelines: non-breaking spaces before and after hyphens, directional text problems, and so on. The end result was a full-scale style-guide-in-a-find-set, with no less than 524 different actions that encompassed just about everything — from spelling to editing conventions, to eliminating spaces before returns and flagging grammatical suggestions.
And this saves time. A lot of it. With a typical book — maybe 130,000 words or so — my find sets corrects about 2,200 errors. Some are fixed immediately; others are marked, and others are fixed and marked for me to take a closer look.
As you can see, Mellel doesn’t replace our remarkable mind.
Far from it. You cannot automate editing, because you cannot automate human thinking, choice, style, and taste. At least for now. What my find set did for me is enhance and direct my attention to possible problems. And when there is a definite solution to a problem — I can fix it.
It does not replace me. It enhances my efforts while simultaneously reducing the time I need to invest in editing the mundane… which frees up more time for me to concentrate on all things extraordinary… and saves me around 30 percent less time editing.
Sometimes, hard work can be so simple.
Mellel’s Find Set saved me thousands of hours, and it can do the same for you, too.
Click here and check out our free tutorial on MellelU.