by Jenne

Although I was interested in software that could improve my editing, I was skeptical when I first heard about PerfectIt. How would software help me as an editor? I regularly use my online subscriptions to reference materials, but I didn’t think I needed another line item on my editing checklist. Ironically, I downloaded the free trial version and never had time to try it. I kept putting it off until PerfectIt asked me to try their new beta release. And now I’m hooked.

I incorrectly assumed it would just check for punctuation and grammar issues, but that’s not really what it’s for. It is not a glorified spellchecker. The purpose of each review is to check for consistency throughout the manuscript. Once it’s downloaded a new tab shows in Microsoft Word and launches directly in the document. It helps to reduce errors by showing the challenging things you could miss, especially in a long document. It allows you to manage multiple styles or create a new one. You can set it up to skip certain sections (footnotes, tables, etc.) or choose what you want it to check (formatting, abbreviations, writing style, etc.).

The first time I used PerfectIt software, I was surprised by what it found. And so thankful. In the eighty-page appendix for a series of five workbooks, it found inconsistencies in hyphenation and capitalization. Not only does it work quickly, it shows the issues and lets you choose your preference. You can change an issue globally or go through each instance individually. Change some and skip others based on the content that is shown in the review box. This was especially helpful for Scripture quotations that showed issues with spelling and hyphenation because they differed from the manuscript’s style sheet. Since they couldn’t be changed, I was able to see which were quotations and which weren’t.

Another feature that helps with Scripture references is the check for acronyms. I appreciate seeing all acronyms for each Scripture version to make sure I caught each translation in the style sheet or for the copyright page. And it let me confirm the levels of headings and subheadings without seeing any other content, which is helpful for manuscripts with multiple levels.

The final list of tasks includes changes to the table of contents, cross-references, comment boxes, document properties, and more. I especially like the check for spacing issues. It converts multiple spaces to one with one click and removes spaces after paragraphs or before punctuation. Even with the best visual check, it always finds at least a few extra spaces to remove. What a relief to know nothing was overlooked. You can even download a summary of the changes or compile a list of the comments for future reference.

Some publishers use it for their final check before typesetting. When I heard that from a publishing house, I knew I needed to check it out. And I’m glad I did. I’ve been impressed with PerfectIt and would highly recommend it for the finishing touch. And if you are a member of The Christian PEN, you get a discount on the annual license. If you wonder how it could help you, try the free trial.

Disclaimer: In exchange for my unbiased review, I was given a two-year license for PerfectIt.

As a freelance editor, consultant, and editing instructor, Jenne Acevedo encourages both writers and editors through Acevedo Word Solutions LLC and Chandler Writers’ Group (Arizona), which she started in 2011.

Jenne is a cofounder of Christian Editor Network LLC, the former director of The Christian PEN and PENCON, a member of Christian Editor Connection, and an instructor for The PEN Institute. She has written multiple articles and devotions, received an award for children’s writing, and has judged both book and editing awards.

Currently, her focus is copyediting nonfiction books, proofreading for publishers, and consulting for both publishers and private clients.