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Forum: Editors/Reviewers Hangout

Rephrasing confusing sentences

Crumbly Writer

I was hoping this forum would give editors a bigger voice here, but entries are still slow, and mostly led by authors (who, me?). So, let's try a new discussion.

What do editors think about changing the wording of authors, especially when a rephrasing can make the text clearer or less confusing? Will you suggest changes, or do you fear 'modifying the author's voice'.

Authors, how do you feel about it? Would you prefer more input, or would you rather editors/proofers keep their hands off your language?

Dominion's Son

@Crumbly Writer

The two stories I have in progress are my first attempts at writing fiction. I would prefer as much input as I can get.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

What do editors think about changing the wording of authors, especially when a rephrasing can make the text clearer or less confusing? Will you suggest changes, or do you fear 'modifying the author's voice'.


I have done, and still do, a little editing for some other authors. My usual approach is to mark a section as needing attention then say it needs something like .... to clarify ...... and leave it up to the author. They know I only make a suggestion and only where I find it's not clear.

I used to do editing for a lot more people, but passed them onto one of my editors a year ago when I had some serious health problems and wasn't able to help them out in a timely manner. The authors concerned and the editor are both enjoying their interactions, so it was a good move - better than making them wait a few months for me to be able to help them. I try not to take on extra editing now due to my health etc.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Any sentence that's confusing needs to be reworked so the editor should tell the author. Does the editor make a recommendation on how to improve it or simply say it's confusing depends on the relationship between the two.

garymrssn

Given that many authors request reader input of this nature, how should the reader approach the author with his/her suggestions/corrections? I got a decidedly negative response from an author when I suggested that he review a particular paragraph in his story. I don't know if I was wrong in my approach or if the authors request for feedback was insincere.

Dominion's Son

@garymrssn

I don't know if I was wrong in my approach or if the authors request for feedback was insincere.


Impossible to judge without knowing the totality of the circumstances.

Switch Blayde

@garymrssn

I got a decidedly negative response from an author when I suggested that he review a particular paragraph in his story.


That's happened to me so many times. I finally stopped giving that kind of feedback.

Many authors don't want feedback. They want to be told how great a job they did. Or to point out a typo. But when you get to the actual writing, most don't want to hear it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@garymrssn

Given that many authors request reader input of this nature, how should the reader approach the author with his/her suggestions/corrections?


A lot depends on how they request the feedback! Some authors ask, and expect, you to tell them about writing errors while others only want or expect more broad comments. If the author thinks feedback is a comment about what they liked or didn't like, that's different to an author asking or expecting to be told of typos or wording issues.

Replies:   garymrssn
garymrssn

@Ernest Bywater

If the author provides a Feedback button, I don't consider that a request for editorial comments. Only if the author makes a request for the reader to notify them of errors, in addition to providing a Feedback button, would I comment on specific issues.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

That's happened to me so many times. I finally stopped giving that kind of feedback.

It's tricky territory. As we've discussed, different authors abandon stories at different points in their lifecycles. Some want nothing to do with a story after they finish it (long before it's posted), while others are still trying to refine and clean it up. Many others, like me, quit 'fixing' their stories when the temptation to rewrite them gets too overwhelming. And many simply dislike feedback in general. If it's not overflowing with gratitude, they don't want to hear it.

Instead, I feel the author out. I'll write about how the story impacted me, telling them what I liked about it, and then I'll mention an issue I think might need work at the end of my message. Then I drop it.

If they ask about it, I'll also mention a couple other issues. If then respond to those, THEN I'll tell them what I really think of it, and I'll mark them as being receptive to feedback and suggestions.

It makes responding to authors more difficult, but it's part of the author/reader game. Authors are, in general, solitary reclusives. They may enjoy partying, but when they sit down to write, then generally lock themselves away so they aren't distracted. (Yes, Ernest and Switch, I know that gross oversimplification doesn't apply to you, but I think it's true for many authors, or else they'd have trouble spending so much time writing.)

Garymrssn, I guess I need to add a "Editorial critiques welcomed and encouraged!" to my end-of-story comments.

PervOtaku

I've proofread some stories that a friend of mine wrote. For the most part I'm just after typos, but a truly mangled sentence or something where the meaning is ambiguous (e.g. who said a line of dialogue) is really just as bad as a typo.

I don't make judgements about the plot, pacing, general choice of words, etc., but if something doesn't flow, if I have to read it again and it still doesn't seem right, I point it out. Usually asking what meaning was intended, and/or suggesting alternative wording.

Might be better to check beforehand how much the author is expecting. Just a check for accidental mangled words and sentences, or a full critique of the story. Also, the better the story is at the outset, the less this will be an issue.

richardshagrin

There might be another issue, call it continuity, when things seem to have happened between chapters but don't get explained. If the hero gets a new girlfriend in every chapter but there is no explanation what happened to the girlfriend in the previous chapter, (and its not particularly a harem building story), readers are going to wonder what is going on and may be put off reading the entire story. Maybe he is a sailor and has a girl in every port. That needs to be explicitly told or shown (lets not make this a show not tell discussion) to the reader so he/she can follow the action without worrying what happened to Ann, now that the hero is romancing Betty.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

I have done a lot of proofing, and I always assume that the author intended to write what he wrote, but not necessarily how he wrote it.

With proofing I always offer corrections for spelling, grammar, punctuation, continuity and ambiguity; even though ambiguity can be fraught.

Whenever I feel like stepping into the editor's domain I remind myself that authors and editors need a lot more collaboration that proofers can hope for.

I don't believe editors should ever change text to make the story better, and should only make changes to make the story clearer or easier to read. Even then, only when they understand the author's intent and style.

But what would I know? I am not an editor's lint.

richardshagrin

@Zom

Just to make it more complicated, between author and editor there is a different, and even more complicated position, co-author. The only individual I think on the Forum who qualifies for this exalted position is the gentleman from Australia who helped co-author one of the Damsel in Distress novels by The Scott, and also collaborated on other stories with him. He may claim he was only an editor, but don't believe him. Somewhere in this agglomeration of postings SOL calls a Forum he discussed what he did, changing point of view, cutting roughly 20% of excess verbiage, and doing a great deal more than a mere editor could get away with.

I am pretty sure there aren't very many other collaborators like that here on SOL but perhaps we should be aware there are roles even mightier than editor.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

who helped co-author one of the Damsel in Distress novels by The Scott, and also collaborated on other stories with him.


Although I've helped The Scot with editing on What the ?, I only co-authored Shiloh with him, but did a lot of co-authoring with Cazna's stories (the action scenes and the revisions) while he was still active.

I've edited and acted as a sounding board for others, but am trying to stop doing editing for others to work on my own stories.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Forum he discussed what he did, changing point of view, cutting roughly 20% of excess verbiage, and doing a great deal more than a mere editor could get away with.


The situation with Shiloh wasn't a normal co-author one. The Scot had some serious real life issues and was dumping the story; he asked for someone to take it over. I offered and was given a free hand. There were some serious issues with the first 25 chapters as they stood and to do a good revision of them I changed it from past tense to present tense and cut a lot of the excess description out, then went on to write the rest of the story from the scene where the aliens first appear at Crossroads. When I had it finished I worked with The Scot to review and further revise the first 30 chapters, and he wasn't able to work on it again. So I got my regular editors to go over it and posted it.

Since then my contact with The Scot has varied with his work and life situation - very changed. He had finished What the ? which I edited and pointed out a couple of issues I thought he needed to revisit and he was working on that when I last had contact - about Easter time.

Zom

@richardshagrin

Just to make it more complicated, between author and editor there is a different, and even more complicated position, co-author

I would have thought the 'co-' bit would put such folk on the same stratum as individual authors, even if they are late to the party.

It sounds like the Ernest attempt was just as demanding as (if not more so than) the original work, and not some Bywater in its fabrication.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Zom

Puns? We must punish you for that.

Replies:   Zom
sagacious

When I had a word capable machine I used the "track changes" function to edit for a few writers. Mostly I took care of typos and the occasional missed or extra words and spaces. When a sentence or paragraph was ambiguous I would cross it out and insert my suggestion. The author had the option to use my suggestion or leave in the original, or use a combination. Continuity or factual problems usually were handled with an attachment explaining the problem and some possible solutions. The final product is always the authors choice.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@sagacious

word capable machine I used the "track changes" function

The other nice thing about Word and its derivatives is the ability to insert comments, which I use to query content or explain suggested changes.

I proof for one author who says 'just make the changes and send it back to me' in text format. I am a little nervous doing it that way.

Zom

@richardshagrin

Puns? We must punish you for that.

Proofers need to be punctilious.

Dominion's Son

@Zom

The other nice thing about Word and its derivatives is the ability to insert comments


Just about every word processor out there does that, and most of them aren't Word derivatives.

I use Open Office and my proofreader and I use the track changes function to track edits + he inserts the occasional comment in the margin.

Replies:   Zom  Ernest Bywater
Zom

@Dominion's Son

Just about every word processor out there does that

Well they do now.

I probably should have said Word and its cousins. A guaranteed way to start a geek war is to make some statement about the evolution of word processors and which one influenced which other one.

I am not going to willingly do that. I lived through it, suffered for it, and I don't want to talk about it.

Replies:   sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@Dominion's Son

Just about every word processor out there does that, and most of them aren't Word derivatives.


The first modern word processor software was Word Perfect by Corel and the others copied the capabilities it offered, even Microsoft Word which was released 3 years later copied the most of the services Word Perfect had, but not all of them, and not as well. All MS Word had going for it was it was about a quarter of the price of Word perfect at that time.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

All MS Word had going for it was it was about a quarter of the price of Word perfect at that time.


Agreed. Word has always been among the least capable of word processors.

sejintenej

@Zom

I proof for one author who says 'just make the changes and send it back to me' in text format. I am a little nervous doing it that way.

Assuming your writer is also using a Word compatible program why not put your changes in (say) red? He can then see what you have done and use the global instruction to change colour of the entire file to black again or change your changes.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Zom
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Assuming your writer is also using a Word compatible program why not put your changes in (say) red? He can then see what you have done and use the global instruction to change colour of the entire file to black again or change your changes.


That's exactly how one of my editors works. He started doing it because he uses MS Word 2007 and I use Libre Office and the non-standard code used in MS Word doesn't always cross the conversion barrier; the Changes and Revisions codes is especially susceptible to losing data. The problem occurs when he saves it as .odt to send back to me and there are also some errors when he sends it to me as .docx or .doc and I convert it. Thus the red text for the changes stands out I can easily copy them into the master file.

Replies:   Dominion's Son
Dominion's Son

@Ernest Bywater

That's exactly how one of my editors works. He started doing it because he uses MS Word 2007 and I use Libre Office and the non-standard code used in MS Word doesn't always cross the conversion barrier


Libre Office is free. You can't talk your editor into downloading a copy to use for editing your stories?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominion's Son

Libre Office is free. You can't talk your editor into downloading a copy to use for editing your stories?


He's too wedded to MS Office to even think about using anything else. Add in it took him a long time to learn how to use the MS Ribbon, and he doesn't want to learn how to use anything else.

I can't wait for him to have to get a new computer and he finds out his MS Office 2007 won't work properly on the new version of MS Windows the system will have - whatever it is.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Zom

@sejintenej

Had that discussion. Doesn't want that. Just the file returned in submission plain text format. I suppose the author could see changes by doing a file comparison, but from the checking I have done, they just go straight to the site. That is some level of trust, which is what makes me nervous.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I can't wait for him to have to get a new computer and he finds out his MS Office 2007 won't work properly on the new version of MS Windows the system will have - whatever it is.


Sounds like Win 8 and or Win 10 is going to end up being a huge shock for him.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Sounds like Win 8 and or Win 10 is going to end up being a huge shock for him.


Ayep, it will be and I don't think he'll like it. But while he can keep his current system going, he will, so they may be up to Win 11 or Win 12 by then.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Zom


I am not going to willingly do that. I lived through it, suffered for it, and I don't want to talk about it.


LOL. Because of her position my wife had to "test" software offered to he company but she didn't have time at work: we had them (legally) at home. I separately had the same problem so on the same PC at home we had up to four spreadsheets and three word processing programs at the same time. Even now I now have two of each, one of each having French vocab/grammar check. As for Word, at least its better than Word Perfect and that crap (name erased) which preceded it.
I've used Kingsoft, Apache and others - OK I suppose like the rest but I hate the latest Excel

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Zom


I don't believe editors should ever change text to make the story better, and should only make changes to make the story clearer or easier to read. Even then, only when they understand the author's intent and style.


As an author, I appreciate both editors and proofreaders. Anyone who wants to help the story is welcome. If you can make the story better by rephrasing something, then please, do. However, this is generally something the author/editor/proofreader work out between themselves. For every author like me, there are those who refuse to change anything. For me, if a change doesn't fit the story, I'll rephrase it to make it fit. What's more, seeing different interpretations opens doors rather than closing them. You can walk through any you want, but if you don't like one entrance, you can continue along your original path.


I proof for one author who says 'just make the changes and send it back to me' in text format. I am a little nervous doing it that way.


Zom, don't take it too seriously. If I'm not sure about changes, I'll run the edited document through "Compare", which converts two text documents into a "Review" document.

Note: Say your later comment. Many authors don't want to be bothered with details. They just want a finished document, while others want to use the opportunity to learn.


Assuming your writer is also using a Word compatible program why not put your changes in (say) red?


richardshagrin, color coding is a bad choice, as it's easy is miss a color coded comma. Doing a "Compare"/"Combine" is more efficient, as you won't miss any of the edits. Ernest, the same is true if the original "Review" edits didn't transfer.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Crumbly Writer

What's more, seeing different interpretations opens doors rather than closing them.

Yes, I can accept that, but hopefully only when the author/editor relationship is intended to be more collaborative than corrective from the beginning.

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

((What's SOL's policy on old topics? I've only recently decided to start being more active on the site, but I seem to be replying to comments that are weeks old. Should I avoid doing that, or is the site slow enough that it doesn't matter?))

@Ernest Bywater

Actually, Office 2007 does work on Windows 10 (I recently set it up for my mother on her new system), so you're probably going to have a bit of a wait ahead of you.

@Crumbly Writer

I've done some editing, mostly academic, but I have helped with proofreading or editing for a few friends who were working on stories.

What do editors think about changing the wording of authors, especially when a rephrasing can make the text clearer or less confusing? Will you suggest changes, or do you fear 'modifying the author's voice'.

Personally, it depends on the size of the affected content. For a single sentence or two, I will provide alternate wording, or ask what specifically the author means. I try to provide examples to show why the sentence is in error, but avoid referencing the specific grammatical rule by name. In worst case scenarios I'll provide multiple options and describe what each means, while pointing out that the line, as written, is completely unclear.

For anything longer than a sentence or two, though, I'll usually just say that the paragraph or section is unclear and requires a rewrite. My assumption is that unless the author just blanked out and typed gibberish without realising it -- which does happen on occasion -- any issue bigger than a couple of sentences probably indicates a structural issue that needs to be addressed.

@garymrssn

I'm finding SOL to be a good site for authors who actually want constructive feedback, but not all story sites are like that. Many sites discourage criticism, and many new authors aren't used to having their genius questioned.

This is made worse by the fact that many new authors are young, often teen-aged, and will tend to react more strongly due to what they perceive as a challenge. (Note: actual statistics on author age are hard to get, but a 2010 study of FanFiction.net's database found that among their readers, of those who included age in their profile, 80% were between 13 and 17 and the curve flattens at 26).

Instead of offering corrections directly, I'll contact an author and say what I liked about their story, but that I have found some issues and ask if they would like me to pass on a list of suggestions. I'll give a loose description of the types of issues I found: spelling, grammar, continuity, anachronisms, etc., and emphasise that I'm trying to them to better reach their audience.

If they say no, or don't respond, then I move on. I'll only provide advice if an author specifically agrees to it. At that point, though, I will present the corrections in a detailed way, as though I were one of their official editors. It doesn't help anyone to just correct one issue.

Ernest Bywater

@Dicrostonyx

Actually, Office 2007 does work on Windows 10 (I recently set it up for my mother on her new system), so you're probably going to have a bit of a wait ahead of you.


According to my brother Office 2007 doesn't work in Win 10. But, then it may be a case of what version of Win 10. At the Family History Centre they have Win 7 Enterprise on 3 systems and Win 7 Pro on another unit. While some of the older CD based software will run on the Win 7 Ent machines none of it will run on the Win 7 Pro system. This is due to the Win 7 Ent version having extra software in it to allow it to simulate running Win XP while the Win 7 Pro version doesn't. The same is probably true of Win 10.

Replies:   Dicrostonyx
Switch Blayde

@Dicrostonyx

a 2010 study of FanFiction.net's database found that among their readers, of those who included age in their profile, 80% were between 13 and 17


That profile fits wattpad, not SOL. Fanfic is more prevalent on wattpad than SOL so that makes sense.

Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

Dicrostonyx, that's a decent approach (to contacting authors) and is essentially what I've espoused (I tend to suggest a couple suggestion, and if they seem receptive I'll send more).

As far as author/editor communications, flagging a passage makes sense, but sometimes an editor might rephrase a short (sentence) segment which helps pop what I'm trying to express. So I'm appreciative when that happens. It often helps to see a story from a different perspective.

Dicrostonyx

@Ernest Bywater

True, I didn't consider enterprise level solutions. All that I can say for sure is that the CD/DVD release of MS Office Home and Student 2007 will install on Windows 10 Home, and that Word definitely does work. That's the only program in Office that my mother uses, so that's the only one that I'm sure about.

Replies:   tppm
tppm

@Dicrostonyx

I had Win 10 briefly installed on this machine (Win 7 Home) and Word 2003 ran fine on it.

P.S. I restored Win 7 because Win 10 crashed a minimum of once a day.

Crumbly Writer

@tppm

P.S. I restored Win 7 because Win 10 crashed a minimum of once a day.

Not to revive the flame wars, but ...

Everyone I know who tried Windows 10 reverted except for:
o one guy who actually appreciated it
o the dozens who were enticed to try it for free after being told they could return to their old system, and were then unable to, and lost both their installed software and much of their data, because M$ knew there was no physical way to peel Win 10 off of an upgrade install.

Win 10 is supposedly more secure, but few I know trust it, as most suspect M$ will soon switch to a monthly subscription service.

Dominions Son

@tppm


P.S. I restored Win 7 because Win 10 crashed a minimum of once a day.


These days I absolutely refuse to upgrade a windows installation to a new version in place on any machine. I tried it a few times and every single time it was a complete disaster. At least once so bad that the hard drive had to be reformatted and the new version of windows installed from OEM media.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

At least once so bad that the hard drive had to be reformatted and the new version of windows installed from OEM media.


For about a decade now the only time I run Windows on a computer is on a very old system for playing old Win 98 games or in Virtual Box on a Linux system. No problems with the operation that way, and definitely no data lost because it all saves to the Linux system..

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

For about a decade now the only time I run Windows on a computer is on a very old system for playing old Win 98 games or in Virtual Box on a Linux system. No problems with the operation that way, and definitely no data lost because it all saves to the Linux system.

Isn't it sad, with all the fancy new game systems, when many of us return to decades old games (I have an old favorite, Escape Velocity Nova, that I can't surrender, despite having mastered multiple times over. It's all sprite graphics, and while simplistic, is more open-ended, rather than a strict 'play by the rules' game play. The new games all insist you invest 40 to 60 hours in uninterrupted game play (few legit break points) that require you to solve one puzzle after another in a very strict hierarchy. Bleh! Who needs to be told 'how' to play?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Isn't it sad, with all the fancy new game systems, when many of us return to decades old games

I've a few reasons for preferring the older games to the new ones.

1. The majority of the new games in the last 10 to 15 years require you to play on-line with no off-line version. Since I have to pay for every MB of upload and download that costs a heck of a lot to play on-line.

1.a. Most of the games require you to fork out A$50 to A$100 for the disc set then pay a monthly subscription to keep your character 'alive' in the on-line database. I don't agree with that process.

2. Despite most of the game developers using Linux system to develop their games and to run the server versions of the game the rarely sell a user version that runs on Linux.

3. Most of the games made in the last 10 years require the use of the latest version (as at time of release) of DirectX which means you also need the latest version of Windows because not all versions of DirectX will run on all versions of Windows.

4. Many of the latest games won't play well unless you have the latest or next to latest hardware for when they were released or last updated.
..............

Even the latest versions of my favourite games are of the style that come under points 1 and 2, so I don't bother with them.

Crumbly Writer

Ernest, to revive the old flame wars, while I'm away on vacation, I've been using my MAC laptop exclusively, and I must say, WORD on a MAC just doesn't work, as all the conventions, like cutting and pasting, search boxes, jumping from one item to another, all fall apart.

I'm about at the point of junking WORD altogether because it's so a bitch trying to search for something (though I'll have to see whether it's any better with OO or LO, as it might be a limitation of the MAC's non-existent file system).

By the way, don't get me started on working across multiple devices on a MAC. I'lll have three windows open to the same directory, and there's no way to determine which is your HD, which is your backup drive, which is a temporary thumb drive, and which is being sent to your editors. They all simply list the exact same story (directory) title.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I must say, WORD on a MAC just doesn't work,


Of course it wouldn't the MAC OS and Windows are just too different, and MS couldn't possibly be bothered to find some developers familiar with MAC OS to do a Clean MAC implementation of Word rather than just running the Windows centric code base through a MAC compiler.

MS isn't in the business of writing OS agnostic code either. Even the stuff they write in Java has to run on and MS JVM because it is dependent on MS specific extensions to Java.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, don't get me started on working across multiple devices on a MAC.


For decades I've claimed Macs were better systems than any PC with Windows loaded on it (even when making money as a Windows fix it guy), the only thing I've every had against them is the price. Mind you, for what you get it's a good price provided you want everything that's on it. For the average user who will only use about a third of the capabilities it's overpriced. For a fraction of what you pay for a Mac I can get a standard PC and load it with Unix or Linux to have the same quality of performance and reliability at a lower price and a higher level or interoperation with other hardware. Also, It will only have the software you want to use.

The issue with Word for Mac is more likely to do with the extra code added by MS to get it to work on a Mac as against working with Windows.

As to the multiple windows open, I do that in Linux all the time. Mind you, the Mac OS is a slightly altered variation of Unix which is what Linux is based off, so I fully expect you to have that capability on a Mac.

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

My other aggravation with WORD for MAC, is that it doesn't default to the last used folder. Instead, every time you try to open a file, it defaults to the MS WORD folder. As if I'd ever use anything suggested by M$.

Time to dig into the settings and figure out how to adjust the default behaviors. No fix for faulty copy/paste functionality, though, nor for the lack of a "Recent" selection of commonly opened files. (Each time I open a file, I've got to start with "All my documents" and drill down to where I'm interested in. Grr! Other than that, I prefer the MAC system.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

For decades I've claimed Macs were better systems than any PC with Windows loaded on it (even when making money as a Windows fix it guy), the only thing I've every had against them is the price.


My family started with an Apple II E. The Apple II GS was much better than the early MACs, but Apple killed it in favor of the MACs. It was at that point, that we switched to PCs.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

. (Each time I open a file, I've got to start with "All my documents" and drill down to where I'm interested in. Grr!


That happens on my Windows 7 system. Not with Excel, but with Word.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

My other aggravation with WORD for MAC, is that it doesn't default to the last used folder. Instead, every time you try to open a file, it defaults to the MS WORD folder. As if I'd ever use anything suggested by M$.


That's MS's fault. Try 'Default Folder' it allows you to take control of the Open/Save dialog boxes (shareware).

http://www.stclairsoft.com/DefaultFolderX/index.html

Time to dig into the settings and figure out how to adjust the default behaviors. No fix for faulty copy/paste functionality, though, nor for the lack of a "Recent" selection of commonly opened files. (Each time I open a file, I've got to start with "All my documents" and drill down to where I'm interested in. Grr! Other than that, I prefer the MAC system.


You find that in Apple -> System Preferences... -> General Panel

At the bottom there is 'Recent Items' and it allows you up to 50 recent items for documents in the 'Open Recent' menu item. Although, MS being MS, I don't know how much they adhere to the Mac conventions.

By the way, it's Mac, short for Macintosh. It's not an acronym. MAC stands for 'Media Access Control' and that is in your network card.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

every time you try to open a file, it defaults to the MS WORD folder.


Standard MS Word behaviour. You need to find the correct setting within Word to reset that to where you want it. Probably in what passes for the old Tools settings. You may even have to make an entry change to your WIN.INI file to point it to the file path you want.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


For decades I've claimed Macs were better systems than any PC with Windows loaded on it (even when making money as a Windows fix it guy), the only thing I've every had against them is the price. Mind you, for what you get it's a good price provided you want everything that's on it. For the average user who will only use about a third of the capabilities it's overpriced.


I think that that was very well understood here. Apple were the tops for graphics but, as well as price, their problem was the shortage of software. DOS and Windows were open source so everyone and his brother wrote programs for them, many of which were (and are) free of charge LINUX should have been a worthy alternative but *seems* to need a computer guru to use

You write that Apple should have been worth it IF people needed all its capabilities That is true of PC stuff as well. I was the "go to" person for PC programs in the office and also for a big US corporation so I had everything on my home PC legally. VisiCalc, Supercalc (lovely what you could make that do), Excel ... At the end for Word I reckoned our secretaries used about 3% of its capabilities and, having to deal with so many ladies, I might have known 10% - we simply didn't need or want the rest. I am now using a free program which is infinitely better than the Word available when I retired and I use a tiny bit of its abilities.

2 months ago I bought an iPad; the biggest mistake I made in decades. It was back to Apple so often (after three visits they accepted that the screen sensors didn't work and replaced it)and still doesn't work properly. I was on chat to their help desk for an hour and a half AFTER I said it was an iPad when they realised I was not talking about a phone and then they started talking nonsense.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

I am now using a free program which is infinitely better than the Word available when I retired


That isn't actually saying much.

My mom for reasons I will never comprehend prefers using MS Publisher for most text documents.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Apple were the tops for graphics but, as well as price, their problem was the shortage of software. DOS and Windows were open source so everyone and his brother wrote programs for them, many of which were (and are) free of charge LINUX should have been a worthy alternative but *seems* to need a computer guru to use


Over the years my experience with computers and operating systems seems to be very different to yours.

Apple systems were always good hardware and software, but after the Apple IIe and they moved to the iMac everything was sold fully loaded with every sort of software you could possibly want already on it. If you wanted a system with all that software it was a damn good deal. However, most people only used between 20% to 50% of the software on it, thus it was overpriced to hell. For example, not everyone wanted, or used, top notch graphics manipulation software, but it was on the system by default.

DOS and Windows were never open source. DOS and Windows up to Win 3.11, along with the basic application software, were a lot cheaper than the alternatives. But they were always proprietary software. Win the introduction of Win 95 and the MS Office Suite the prices for them ramp up very quickly, but, by then, they had a strangle hold on the business market.

Unix, which is what the MacOS and Linux is based on and what Microsoft has been trying to come up to for quality, performance, and security is the other major player with Linux being the Open Source option. Part of the problem with Unix and Linux is they do not have the money to pressure people into writing software for them the way Microsoft and Apple do, thus they are often a bit behind in some software applications. However, for 98% of home or business needs they have suitable software to do anything you want.

Linux and most versions of Unix were a bit behind the rest in introducing run and forget style installation systems for their OS, but they've had them for about fifteen years now. You don't need to be a Unix or Linux guru any more than you need to be a Windows guru, in fact in recent years it's been becoming harder and harder for the average user to do anything behind the scenes in Windows, and easier in Linux and Unix.

Now the iPhone and iPads etc are totally different things to the Macs. The Mac is intended as a business workhorse while the other is intended as a home toy.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

for reasons I will never comprehend prefers using MS Publisher


I'd be willing to bet that was the only application she was taught how to use well and now stays using what she knows. In short, staying in her comfort zone which is where most people tend to work.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

'd be willing to bet that was the only application she was taught how to use well


She knows how to use Word, but for some reason prefers publisher.

Capt Zapp

@Ernest Bywater

DOS and Windows were never open source.


Not only that, but it seemed ever manufacturer had their own version of DOS. The TRS-80 ran Tandy/Radio Shack Disk Operating System, or TRS-DOS, although there were other companies that wrote a DOS that worked on the TRS-80 series, including Newdos80, and LSDos/LDos. CP/M was also available.

My first personal computer was a TRS-80 Model I, Level I, 4k machine. At least the three error messages were easy to understand.

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

You find that in Apple -> System Preferences... -> General Panel

Thanks, Lazeez, but I find the "Most Recent" doesn't help much, as it won't affect where to look for new files, and the 'default' controls which folder to always default to, rather than which one you want to open at the moment (which makes saving something to a USB device difficult).

I really like the PC version of WORD's "Recent Documents" page, which not only lists the most recent documents, but you favorite folders (I reserve one for each active story). The biggest problem with this (for my use) is that the Mac is trying to fit cloud storage onto a non-file system (i.e. one where you're not supposed to be aware of a file system), and it produces a cludgy mismatch of functionality.

But then, I'm still figuring out how to work within the Mac. (My mistake for using the wrong name, I was afraid "Mac" looked like someone's name rather than a corporate trademark. However, I didn't use their corporate trademark when I did.)

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Thanks, Lazeez, but I find the "Most Recent" doesn't help much, as it won't affect where to look for new files, and the 'default' controls which folder to always default to, rather than which one you want to open at the moment (which makes saving something to a USB device difficult).


That option controls how many items appear in the 'File' menu's 'Open Recent' submenu.


I really like the PC version of WORD's "Recent Documents" page, which not only lists the most recent documents, but you favorite folders (I reserve one for each active story).


On the Mac, (OK, I don't have MS Word to test so), usually 'Recent Documents' are just a submenu item in the File menu and it should have a list of the most recently opened documents.


The biggest problem with this (for my use) is that the Mac is trying to fit cloud storage onto a non-file system (i.e. one where you're not supposed to be aware of a file system), and it produces a cludgy mismatch of functionality.


Are you talking about the Mac (Big PC computers) or iOS (like an iPad)?

On the Mac there is a normal file system just like on Windows. Cloud storage is just an item that appears on the left hand side as 'iCloud Drive'.


But then, I'm still figuring out how to work within the Mac.


It seems you haven't been properly introduced to how the Mac works. If you simply bought a Mac instead of a PC and trying to learn as you go, you'll learn a lot of things the wrong way and you'll be confused about a lot of things.

What version of Mac OS do you have?

Have you checked the 'Help' menu for the Finder?

A quick tip, in the Finder, find the folder where you save your stories, and drag it to the left hand side of the Finder's window to the side bar. After that, that folder will appear on the left hand side of the 'Open/Save' dialog box in all Applications including MS Word for quick access.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm

@Crumbly Writer

The biggest problem with this (for my use) is that the Mac is trying to fit cloud storage onto a non-file system (i.e. one where you're not supposed to be aware of a file system), and it produces a cludgy mismatch of functionality.


For some reason this reminds me of a scene in some cop show wherein the forensic programmer says that she'll be a while getting the information they want from the suspect's computer because, "This system is a complete mess, he's got everything in folders and sub-folders." To which I responded, "Hungh! Having your HD organized makes it a complete mess?"

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

but I find the "Most Recent" doesn't help much, as it won't affect where to look for new files,


As I said, I have the same problem with Word on Windows 7. Not Excel though.

In Word...

Let's say I'm working on a story. In my Most Rrecent is Chap 1, Chap 2, and story-notes.

When I open Word, I click on Chap 2 in my Most Recent. It loads the file. Then I want to check something in Chap 1. When I click on "open" it doesn't bring up the Most Recent list. I have to go through what you said -- after clicking on "open," I follow the folder paths until I get to the file.

Now, let's say I wanted to check something in the story-notes file. This time it's pointing to the correct folder. It remembers where it found Chap 1.

The problem has to do with getting to the file from the most recent list. Unlike Excel, Word doesn't set it to the folder the file came from. But if you go directly to the folder, it remembers.

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

A quick tip, in the Finder, find the folder where you save your stories, and drag it to the left hand side of the Finder's window to the side bar. After that, that folder will appear on the left hand side of the 'Open/Save' dialog box in all Applications including MS Word for quick access.

Thanks, Lazeez. You were right, no one ever mentioned that to me before. However, my main issue is with features in MS WORD for PCs which don't work under the Mac. The most obvious, is the PC version has a "Recent documents" page (instead of a simple drop down list), where it lists each of your recent files, along with all of your recent directories, and you can pin items to either list. That makes it incredibly easy to access documents, even if you work on a new one each day. My biggest frustration with the Mac's file system, is I can't differentiate between identical folders on a USB drive, an external drive, cloud storage, or my HD. They're all listed the same, and only some of them point back to where they came from.

Growing pains, I guess. I really should have had Apple walk me though the process. Instead, while deciding while to make the investment, I 'rented' a Mac online, paying for a set number of hours, and got used to using each of the applications. However, there's a difference between 'using' an application for a couple hours, and using it for six or eight hours a day.

Pinning the folders to my favorites bar helps.

Oh, and my system is new, using El Capitan v10.11.2. The problem with the help menu, is that all the common references to how to access features have changed, making it useless requesting system help files.

@Switch

Let's say I'm working on a story. In my Most Rrecent is Chap 1, Chap 2, and story-notes.

When I open Word, I click on Chap 2 in my Most Recent. It loads the file. Then I want to check something in Chap 1. When I click on "open" it doesn't bring up the Most Recent list. I have to go through what you said -- after clicking on "open," I follow the folder paths until I get to the file.

I hate belaboring the point (of my unfamiliarity with the OS), but it's even worse than that. Instead of pointing to the most recent folder, it always points to the MS WORD folder (which I never use). If I try to open a folder, I have to start with the desktop and work my way down each time (though Lazeez's suggestion fixes that problem). Instead, I've been ignoring WORD's "Open" command and instead going to my already open Finder windows to open all my files there, but even then, if I have the same folder opened on a couple different devices, I can't tell them apart (having been burned before, I like backing up immediately after I finish a chapter).

Again, these are merely learning frustrations. Once I get used to it, I'll be fine. (Although, I read up on everyone's frustration with the lack on consistent WORD features across their product line before purchasing the machine or installing the software, so I was prewarned.)

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