Thursday, March 22, 2018

Inputting Hard Copy Edits

The final editing pass for my app, "Eat Everywhere" involved marking up 1500 pages (front and back) of text with red pen. Behold my ordeal:

This stage was, alas, necessary. The material would have read fine without it, but many people have complimented the polished feel of the app's writing, and this is how that happened. Eat Everywhere informs you quickly on the fly (i.e. in restaurants), but you can also kick back and read it like a gigunda book, funny and entertaining (much credit, also, to our copy editor Laura Siciliano Rosen, proprietor of "Eat Your World", who also helped write the food content).

While I love writing, I hate inputting edits from hard copy. Knowing this huge task was looming, I bought an Apple Pencil for my iPad and tested every PDF mark-up app, hoping I could save some pain (and some trees) by avoiding print-outs. But these apps are all clunky, so final editing had to be done on paper, then manually input, after all. If you've ever done this, you know that, among other pains, it's hell on the eyes to keep switching between hard copy and screen. And fussy to keep the hard copy well-positioned. And just crazy-making, generally.

Here's my ingenious solution, which I'm very proud of:

1. Mark up hard copy in red pen (I use Paper Mate Flair Felt Tips, though they've gone downhill in recent years)

2. Put each page under this lamp (or one like it), choosing the coolest white quality. It lets you shoot a photo without casting a shadow on the page.

3. Shoot each page using the Scanner Pro app (set to "color document" so it correctly captures the red pen strokes) for iPhone, or any similar one for Android. You can shoot with the native camera app, but if you want this to "just work", scanner apps are better (I'll explain why in comments upon request).

4. The pages will be combined into a PDF. Send to DropBox (or other cloud service, or email to yourself).

5. Open the PDF on your computer, blowing up the window until it fills half the screen. Then arrange it next to the document window you're inputting to.

No eye strain! No fussy copy stands! No squinting! Plus, you can scroll both windows as you work. I'd be dead right now if not for this workflow. If you ever work with hard copy next to a computer, this is something you need to be doing!

It looks like this:

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