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dws (341)

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Journal of dws (341)

Monday October 20, 2003
12:05 AM

Advice to authors, and Kinkos rocks.

[ #15288 ]
I'm reviewing a technical manuscript for a friend (the 5th this year--I've got to figure out how to get paid for this :). The standard routine is to load a ream of paper into the printer, print the manuscript 2-up on 3 hole punch paper, then spend two to three weeks reading very slowly and marking the sucker up, and finally mailing it back to the author along with extraneous notes. I burned through an entire red Gel pen on the last MS. The (first-time) author hasn't quite recovered from shock.

Free advice for writers: When you're editing your manuscript, circle each "it" with a big red pen. If there is any chance that a reasonable reader will reach an "it" and then have to back up to figure out which of two (or more) things that "it" might refer to, replace the "it" with something specific. Don't make your readers re-read. It breaks the flow, and draws attention to your writing instead of your subject matter.

Today, on an inspired whim, I tried Kinkos (a U.S. copy shop) on-line printing. You upload a document (a PDF, in this case) to their website, specify how you want the documented printed (b/w, double-sided, on 20 lb. stock, spiral bound), proof it using their nifty web-based document proofer, give them a zip code and a credit card, and they tell you when and where to pick up the result (2 hours later, at a Kinkos 3 miles away). They do charge for the service, but it seems reasonable ($22USD for a spiral bound, 125 paper page document, printed double-sided). It's a big win on hassle factor, though figuring out how to get my printer to do double-sided is still on the list of "shoulds", along with cleaning out the garage and remembering to floss daily.

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