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Friday, December 7, 2012

Digital security

What are you inadvertently including in that electronic manuscript?

A great deal could be lurking in the invisible background to documents that you send electronically -- particularly if you, like most users of MS word, use the autocorrect function.  And even if you have turned off the header/footer option, there is material lurking up (and down) on each page.  It is invisible, but it is there.

This is something I found out while publishing with smashwords.  More about them in another post, as right now it suffices to say that their vetting system is absolutely first-rate. 

The electronic manuscript first goes through a process rather unfortunately labelled the "meat-grinder," which converts your word.doc manuscript into all the electronic reading forms.  Then it goes through another computer process, the autovetter.  Then -- almost immediately -- you get an email telling you the results of this autovetting process. 

And my first email warned me that the manuscript had to be repaired and resubmitted, as there were "textboxes" embedded in the file.

Textboxes?  I was astonished.  The only time I have ever used them is when creating powerpoint slides.  So what did the mysterious message mean?  I hunted through their style guide, and learned about this hidden, lurking material.

So how do you get rid of it?  If you use MS word, it is easy.  With your file open, you go to the office button at the top lefthand corner, hit it and go down to "Prepare."  Second down in the menu that comes up is "Inspect Document."  Hit this. Click all the boxes, and then hit "Inspect."

You will be amazed at what comes up.  Remove all, inspect again, to make sure, and close the program.  Then check your document, just to make sure that nothing dire has happened.  In all likelihood, you will find that it looks just the same.  The difference is that it is now clean.

I now do this to every document I send, because who knows what might be lurking in the unseen background?

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