How to Edit a Novel: Word Processing Power for First-Time Editors Traveling Abroad

As more writers all over the world are moving their work to self publishing platforms like Lulu and KDP Select, the need for writers to become editors is on the increase. This can sound like an utterly terrifying thought if you’ve never had to put on your editing hat before – but it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think to go from writer to editor. 

There are many tricks and shortcuts that have been built into your word processor that are all designed to make editing easier. Many writers and editors aren’t using these tools to edit their work just because they don’t realize that these tools are available.

Are you using your word processor to its full capacity? 

If you need a little extra help, here are some nifty keyboard shortcuts and word processor tricks that can make the editing process both faster and easier. 

Choose the Right Word Processor

Start with the right word processor if you want to make sure editing is as effortless as possible. The most updated version of your latest word processor can also ensure that there are no issues with compatibility or dumped formatting settings. 

While MS Word used to be the most popular option, it’s not as widely used today because there are better, free options out there. LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are two of the most powerful word processors available for free, and if those aren’t suited, take a look at using Google Docs, which saves to the cloud as you go. 

Find and Replace

Find and replace is one of the most time-saving tools at your disposal. Use it where you need to make several replacements of a specific grammar mistake or word – for example, 200 instances of the character name Dave when it should have been Joe. If you had to do this one-by-one, it would take you hours instead of seconds. 

The find setting can also be used to locate anything fast in the manuscript you’re working on. For faster access, you can make use of the keyboard shortcut CTRL+F.

Using Comments

Comments within a word processor can be one of the most useful features for keeping track. Insert a comment by pressing CTRL+ALT+C. In comment mode, you can cycle through all of the comments you’ve made in a document – and it’s a very quick way for an editor to make notes in a document that only they can see (yes, you can press Hide Comments under the settings).

Tracking Changes with Track Changes

If you want to leave more than just comments in your document, you can make use of track changes. These will keep track of all the changes that you’ve made in red. Later all of these changes can either be accepted or rejected – and as an editor this can be an immensely useful way to remember just what you’re doing.

If you aren’t sure what you’ve changed, turn track changes on and it will show you. It’s the new version of taking a red pen to a manuscript – except it’s much easier with the help of technology by your side.

Erasing Words

An incredible amount of time is spent pressing the erase and delete keys while you’re editing a book. There’s no need to erase one letter at a time – especially not when you’re hoping to save yourself time during the editing process. 

Use CTRL together with the backspace key to erase entire words with this key combination instead of just individual letters. When you’re backspacing big pieces of text, this can save you a lot of time, effort and keystrokes.