If you’re like me, fellow editors, you have a document open to edit on your PC and then you also have open links to the Merriam-Webster (M-W) online unabridged dictionary and Google. I also open a link to my online Chicago Manual of Style (abbreviated as CMOS and pronounced “SEE-moss”).
I hope you also have PerfectIt sitting up there on your Word ribbon as your go-to editing checker. It’s also one of my essential tools, and the good news is that PerfectIt has married CMOS and—get this—shows you and links directly to actual citations in CMOS and defers to spellings in M-W. Is this editor heaven?
I was delighted to test the beta version that will be available to you now.
I bring in PerfectIt at two critical times in a book edit: I will often run PerfectIt before I tackle a book manuscript to see all the inconsistency in a manuscript. I look for words not spelled correctly or even consistently (advisor, adviser, for example), for words not hyphenated correctly or consistently (nonnegotiable, non-negotiable, for example), for awkward and inconsistent capitalization of headings, and for whether the author used the serial comma and how, among many other mechanical editing areas to prereview for fine-tuning.
PerfectIt allows me to get the big picture of the work. Then I can make editorial decisions about certain usages, allowed by CMOS (US, for example, and percent, not %) and breaking the rules consistently (such as capping the job title President in a book on leadership).
I run PerfectIt again when I have completed an edit to catch any further inconsistencies in hyphenation, in particular, and everything else this powerful program flags. I often find myself leaving parens open or missing closing quotation marks, and PerfectIt keeps me as perfect as we editors can ever get.
When testing PerfectIt 5 in beta, I threw some rough drafts at it, and I have been simply amazed at the power of the link with CMOS. In the yes-you-can-teach-old-dogs-new-tricks department, I discovered a few style points I have been getting wrong. I’ll give you one example. The word vs. gets a period, and, dang it, I’ve been using vs for years. But because my new best friend flagged vs and I could click on CMOS 10.42, I could get a quick tutorial on the rule.
You can still customize and build your house style. Downloading the new version was seamless, and I understand that if you already have subscriptions to CMOS online and PerfectIt, upgrading to version 5 is free.
Will PerfectIt ever become AI and replace us as editors? I sure hope not, but this marriage with our venerable Chicago Manual of Style is one step closer to making editors appear to be superhuman (and yes CMOS via PerfectIt says superhuman is one word).
Sandra Wendel is a nonfiction book editor, NAIWE member, and author of the award-winning book Cover to Cover: What First-Time Authors Need to Know about Editing.