Last week, I talked about a copyeditor’s responsibilities regarding citations. The work can be tedious and time-consuming, but you can make the work easier with technology or human assistance—or both.
Online Software and Macros
Online services like EasyBib and BibMe help authors and editors gather all the information needed for a citation and put it in the right format based on the style chosen (e.g., The Chicago Manual of Style). As Dawn McIlvain Stahl notes in her blog post on auto-generating bibliographies, these services have come a long way in the last five years. They are more accurate than when they first debuted and can be a real time saver.
Stahl’s current favorite service is BibMe, while reader John Revington likes ReferenceChecker. You can read a more-detailed review of bibliography software in our October–November 2014 issue of Copyediting newsletter.
Services like JSTOR, PubMed, and the Library of Congress Online Catalog can help you fill in any missing information that the bibliography services can’t. You can read a review of JSTOR in the August–September 2014 issue of Copyediting.
Once you have all the details for your citations, macros for Microsoft Word can help you format them quickly and correctly. I’ve sung the praises of macros on this blog before. A macro is essentially a recording of commands that you play back within a Word file via keystrokes or a button. It can be as simple as recording a Find and Replace of extra spaces and as complex as reformatting the author’s names in the citations in your document, which EditTools will do for you.
None of these tools are perfect, however; no software is. You should carefully review results before handing the document back to your author or supervisor.
The Human Touch
Another way to make citations more bearable is to hand the task off to someone else, with or without the technology help. If you’re an employee, you might not be able to hand these off, but it’s worth discussing with your manager. Handing citations to a junior staffer would allow you to focus on the editing while giving the junior staffer training and experience. Given tiny training budgets and short turnaround times, this might be an elegant solution for everyone.
Freelancers can hire other editors to help out, whether it’s someone new to the field or someone who just likes doing citations (there are some editors who do!). If you employ administrative help, your assistant might be able to do those citations for you, too.
Or you could choose my current favorite route: hire your kids or local teens. I was thrilled when my eighth grader learned not only about plagiarism and citations in school but also how to use sites like BibMe for research projects. Now my son can earn extra Lego money by doing citations for Mom.
As when you use tools to clean up citations, you’ll want to review any work done. Giving your colleague or assistant feedback will help improve results the next time, increasing their knowledge as well as their value to you. It also speeds up the editing time, as now two people are working on the manuscript at the same time. Just be sure to maintain good version control.
What tips do you have for making citations easier? Share your thoughts in the comments section!