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May 20, 2014

Digital or Print Editing?



Some time last year on She Writes, I was drawn into a discussion about digital versus print editing. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about editing and wanted to revisit the topic.

With Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds, I did a lot of editing on the computer. After about three rounds of editing for each story with my editor, let’s just say I didn’t think printing out 50 pages (for Hurricane Crimes) and 110 pages (for 30 Seconds) was worth the paper and ink. 

There is also the romantic writer side of me that hates the thought of striking beautiful black and white pages with red ink.

Before these rounds with my editor though, I still did most of my editing on the computer as I found it quicker to apply the edits directly to the document, and easier since I wouldn’t have to search for the errors in the document after fixing them on paper.

On the other hand, I like to print out my flash fiction because it seems as though it’s easier to find small mistakes on paper than on the computer. Even after reading Hurricane Crimes several times (Too many times to count!) I still found a few minor errors during my second round of editing with my editor that I was surprised we hadn’t caught before.

For more on editing: How to Edit a Book

Every writer is different though, and it's important to find what you are comfortable with and what works best for you.

So . . . .


QUESTION: Which do you prefer? Digital or print editing? 


64 comments:

Stephanie Faris said...

I do believe it's easier to see errors when they're on paper, but I usually do them on computer now. There is a way to send them to Kindle, but that's just to read...I haven't figured out how to make notes on there now.

Sophie Duncan said...

I prefer digital editing for two main reasons:
1/trying to get all those edits back into digital format if I use paper is a pain and I have been known to miss things in the translation, especially commas and the like, or even lose track of where I am on the printed page.
2/ My handwriting is atrocious ;P

One of my betas does prefer paper though, so I have to input her edits.

For myself, I find changing the format of the digital item I'm editing makes me look at it in a different way, like translating to paper would - like taking my word document and making it landscape with two columns, rather than portrait one column.
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
Fantasy Boys XXX

Pat Hatt said...

I o it on the computer at my sea, as I don't even own a printer lol

Unknown said...

I'm going to add a third option: the kindle. For some reason, I find most of my mistakes that way.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I use both the computer and hard copies when editing and revising. I've also heard it's a good idea to change the fonts and the spacing to give tired eyes a different perspective.

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Chrys Fey said...

I don't even have a Kindle. haha I only have a Kindle app on my computer, which makes it hard enough to read ebooks. :P

Chrys Fey said...

I have the same problems as you when it comes to editing in print form. My handwriting can get pretty sloppy too, but at least I can read it because I often write first in a notebook and then have to type it up.

I love the idea of changing the format in my word document to edit. I'm going to have to try that! Thanks!! :D

Chrys Fey said...

For a long time I didn't have a print neither. But then I got one several years back for Christmas. :) It's the ink I don't normally have! haha

Chrys Fey said...

Stephanie mentioned using the Kindle. I don't have a Kindle, so I wouldn't be able to try it. Darn!

Chrys Fey said...

That's a great tip! Sophie mentioned changing the form from one solid column to two. This would also be good. I'm going to try both! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I miss stuff on the computer. The final edits from my critique partners will go straight to the computer, but otherwise I print out my manuscript several times and read through and correct each one four and five times before printing a clean version again and repeating the process.

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I had all the ink you do! haha

Lisa Thomson said...

I'm careful not to do too much on digital because you can never get back that original idea, thought, sentence, paragraph...but the little stuff I change on the computer. I like to print out a first draft on (draft print which takes less ink) let it sit, then read through and make changes in print. That way I always have that original concept. The editing process is very loooooong though, and in order to catch every type it takes months. That was my experience. I even found some typos after professional editing.

Carrie-Anne said...

I can't even remember the last time I did any print editing. It just saves paper and ink to do it digiitally. When I'm done with a book, I copy and paste each chapter file into a master document and edit from there, so I still have the originals. I also have the master originals of my older books on disks, in case I need or want to ever refer back to them.

When I'm transcribing an older book, I basically do the editing as I'm transcribing. I couldn't edit right there in the old notebooks, since I want to preserve the handwritten originals.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for telling me about your process, Lisa. I'm sure we could always find typos after every editing stage.

Chrys Fey said...

That's a good idea to have every chapter (or story) saved separately before the editing process, so you'll always have the original copy. I'll have to remember that.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hands down, digital. I like to save paper. PLUS ink has gotten so expensive. So it's digital all the way for me.

It's also much more convenient. It is a bigger strain on the eyes, but I work much quicker...

Good topic, though Chrys.

Unknown said...

Definitely both but I can't always see the errors when I'm editing on the computer. What I started doing recently was reading documents on my Kindle. For some reason, I'm able to see more errors when I'm reading with it. I still have to go back to the computer to make the changes, but at least I've caught the errors.

Kelly Hashway said...

I find paper editing to be more accurate. I have one publisher who sends a physical ARC to proofread and I love that because mistakes jump out when you switch formats like that. I worry when all the edits are done digitally.

Jocelyn Rish said...

For the longest time, I preferred editing on paper, but that was mostly short stories. Once I started editing my novel, I found it worked better on the computer. Plus, it just killed me to 'waste' all that paper.

Anonymous said...

I use both, but mostly digital. I'll print a manuscript as a final stage worrying that my eyes missed something onscreen.

Slamdunk said...

Like Medeia said, I enjoy using both. I will usually start with print and identify lots of changes. Then I will go in electronically, make the modifications, and proof the document on screen.

Depending on the length of the document, the paper thing can be wasteful though.

Tammy Theriault said...

I've tried both but I didn't care for printing it out especially whn I have a lot to rewrite and no space ;(

Gina Gao said...

I tend to write everything on paper, then rewrite. My final draft comes out on the computer.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Denise Covey said...

Hello Chrys. I edit mostly on the computer, but I was just telling a friend today that I need a big blank wall to past my chapters on so I can more readily see the structure. I sometimes print out, but it usually becomes a waste of paper as I keep on editing online.

Glad you emailed your writerly post for the e-book.

Denise

Kyra Lennon said...

I prefer editing on the computer - mainly because printer ink is freaking expensive, and my books are long LOL!

River Fairchild said...

I do both for different reasons. I'll make initial edits on the computer. When I think I'm completely done I send the doc to my Kindle and treat it like somebody else's book. It's amazing what more I will catch reading it that way! I don't know how to take notes on the Kindle but doesn't matter. I get a lot of exercise walking back and forth to correct the computer version each time I find something. ;)

Anonymous said...

I prefer digital, because it's easier, but I catch more on paper.

debi o'neille said...

I usually do edits on the computer, but then when I feel I've got close to a polished piece, I print it out and find a lot of things I missed. I never print until I feel close, though, or I'd go through too much paper and ink.
Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Stephanie Bird said...

Good question! I feel like you Chrys, that there are merits to both. I get overwhelmed sometimes by digital editing, though I realize it is a necessary evil. I do my personal editing first on the printed draft and then digitally.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I usually edit on the screen, as it saves paper and is easier, but my boyfriend the professional copyeditor always prints out the document. So I suspect it may be easier to catch mistakes on paper. Since he edits my books, I get the best of both worlds.

Chrys Fey said...

The price of ink is the main reason why I don't print out my manuscripts.

Chrys Fey said...

Several people have mentioned using Kindle. I don't have a Kindle, but I wish I did so I could try it!

Chrys Fey said...

I bet the errors are easier to see on paper. They usually are when I print out my flash fiction. I just don't do it for longer works. Maybe if I had money for ink. haha

Chrys Fey said...

I hate wasting all the paper, too!

Chrys Fey said...

Printing the final manuscript after digital editing is a good idea!

Chrys Fey said...

Using both methods is a great idea!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, that is one the reasons why I find digital editing so much easier.

Chrys Fey said...

I also write a lot on paper and edit as I'm typing it up.

Chrys Fey said...

It would be neat to see every chapter tack up on a wall. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I agree with you there!

Chrys Fey said...

I really wish I had Kindle to do that! It sounds like a great strategy.

Chrys Fey said...

I also notice I catch more on paper, but fixing it in my document on the computer is a pain!

Chrys Fey said...

I'm going to have to try that! I like the idea of printing it after all the editing rounds on the computer. Just to double check. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Both methods certainly have their own merits. :) And really, you can't go wrong with either one.

Chrys Fey said...

How lucky to be dating a copyeditor! Where can I get one? ;)

Crystal Collier said...

DIGITAL. I love trees. ;) Truthfully though, I've got kids and anything in a binder or stack is not safe. Something in a word file? Yeah, it's totally safe, and easy to locate, and search, and I read more than half my books digitally anyway, so it really is my preferred method.

Kristin Smith said...

Digital for me. Although, I do see the need to print and go through it at least once on paper. It is easier to find mistakes that way. My husband (my in-house editor) always prefers to read my drafts on paper. He refuses to read/edit from the computer.

M Pax said...

I do some of both. I print out what I write each day and mark the pages with a pen. When the 1st round is done, I print out the manuscript and edit by hand then put into the computer. I rinse and repeat when my MS comes back from my editor. The final read-through is all digital. Then once more on my Nook.

Chrys Fey said...

I love trees, too! ;) I totally understand why digital editing would be easy for a mom. :)

Chrys Fey said...

"I rinse and repeat" . . . I love that! Thank you for telling me about your process, M Pax!

Chrys Fey said...

You're the second person to say your significant other is an editor. I am jealous! HAHA!

Unknown said...

Because of track changes, I dread digital editing!! Ugh! I remember when I received my first round of edits for my children's book through track changes, I cringed. I didn't have a clue how to approach them, lol.
But I've learned to cope. I guess digital editing is a lot easier depending on the length of the story or novel. But it's also easier for me to read and make edits on printed paper only because I pick up on more mistakes this way. Strange I guess... Great post, Chrys! Thanks for sharing "How to Edit a Book."

Christine Rains said...

I like digital editing. I love all the things you can do in a document to mark it up. I have a local critique group which we have to print out stories to be critiqued, but I find it takes me longer to do it that way.

Kimberly said...

I used to print but now it's all digital. I figured out before publishing my book that a good trick is to zoom the text to about 140 or so and I find mistakes so much easier that way!

Yanting Gueh said...

I edit much better on paper so I do that for my first round of revision. After that, it's mainly editing from my laptop.

Chrys Fey said...

Track changes is something I dread, but my editor uses it, too. Whenever I get the first round of editing back from her, I hold my breath and quickly scan the document for all the changes. It's never been as bad as I thought though.

Chrys Fey said...

Print editing also takes me longer to do.

Chrys Fey said...

That's a great idea! Thanks for sharing, Kimberly!

Chrys Fey said...

Using both methods is always a great idea. :)

Kristin Smith said...

Well, unfortunately, he's not a REAL editor, he's just MY editor. Haha! But he can be pretty ruthless with that red pen! :)

Chrys Fey said...

But still, you're very lucky. None of my loved ones can act as my editor because they don't like to read or write, and they know little about grammar. LOL

Loni Townsend said...

I don't own a printer (heresy for a writer, I know), so most of my editing is computer based. Not to mention my novels are rather long. My husband printed a copy of my book once at his work... took a couple reams of paper. >_<

Chrys Fey said...

LOL! I remember when I didn't have a printer (for years) and it certainly made things tougher.