Since the Editing class I guest lectured in recently, I received some follow-up questions from students. A question they continue to ask is for further info on the primary tools I use for editing and proofreading. For their classes, they do the majority of their work in Microsoft Word, so they were curious to learn more about the other tools I mentioned in my class. I showed examples of projects in various stages of editing/proofreading so they could see the process from raw text to full layout. This topic is extra timely, as I have been challenged with issues of tool compatibility while working with writers on a current editing project.
From personal experience working in the game industry, these are the tools I see most often used and recommend you be familiar with if you want to do writing, proofreading and editing in the game industry.
- Pen & Paper – As archaic as it may sound, I still find it very useful to print out documents at times and mark them up with a red pen. This is especially useful when taking projects on trips where digital device access is not as readily available.
- Notepad (Windows)/TextEdit (Mac) – When needing quick notes and to clean up incorrect formatting, a raw text editor is very useful.
- Microsoft Word – This is the primary software and format (.doc/.docx) I find used by game publishers, writers, and editors. I realize Macs and Linux have their own word processing software, but I want to highly encourage you to invest in Microsoft Office. It will be much easier for you to work with publishers and their standards documents if you can read, write, and edit Microsoft Word documents in their native format.
- Adobe Acrobat Pro – This is the secondary software and format (.PDF) I find used by game publishers, editors and layout. If you are going to be proofreading RPGs and board game manuals, you will most often be given an Adobe Acrobat .PDF document for review. Having Acrobat Pro lets you mark up the file with changes and comments.
- Scrivener – I have used this on a few novella projects, and find it is used more by fiction writers rather than game designers. It is useful to understand but not mandatory unless you are working with writers and editors who prefer it.
- Adobe InDesign – As I am getting into more and more editing, I am seriously contemplating investing in Adobe InDesign so I can edit and markup the raw files from the layout specialist.
- Microsoft Excel – I use Excel to keep track of my freelance income and expenses. You should keep records for tax purposes in a spreadsheet or some other application.
What tools do you find yourself using most often as a freelancer? I would really be interested to hear what tools artists and layout specialists are using.