Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Meredith Forrester

Meredith Forrester

Copy editor (The Good Copy)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Meredith Forrester, and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I used to draw and design things, but now I'm a copy editor. I edit and proofread magazines and other odd publishing jobs in my freelance time, and my full-time gig is being the managing editor at The Good Copy, a writing school, publisher and online shop for word people. Most of the time I'm organising and developing our grammar and writing courses, but I also get to create writing style guides, edit and proofread words for our agency, and help plan our future word-related products and courses and events.

In the back half of 2017 I wrote a little book called Make Grammar Great Again, which is me copyediting Donald Trump's grammatically iffy tweets to help explain the basics of grammar and punctuation (and usage and style) in a way that anyone, even the president of the United States, can understand. So my tongue's in my cheek for the most part, and I want readers to get a good giggle out of the corrections and examples, but I mostly hope that the book inspires extended clause, comma and conjunction adventures. Grammar is cool and fun, and we all instinctively know it. That's one of the newest things I'm trying to do, actually: think, talk and write about grammar as a system we're all empowered to work and play with. (If you're wondering, the answer is no -- I won't write 'a system with which we're all empowered to work and play'. Prepositions are happy to end sentences! And conjunctions enjoy sitting at the start.)

What hardware do you use?

Cursed Macs. I misplacedĀ a 2013 MacBook Air one long story two years ago and have been hit with software and hardware glitches ever since. The cursed Mac I use at home is a 2015 13" MacBook Pro. No external mouse or anything. Its curse means that sometimes the display decides to reduce itself to two-thirds of its usual size, and notifications tend to pop up at random midway points rather than from the right-hand side. When I'm working from home, I'm either in bed or feet-up on the couch. I like it; my back doesn't.

The cursed Mac I use at work is a 2016 13" MacBook Pro, and it sits on an mStand and comes with a Magic Keyboard and a Magic Trackpad. Its major issues are software-related, but sometimes it'll give me a brief graphics-card glitch, just to remind me I'm damned, I suppose. As much as I love my bed and couch, my work set-up makes me feel more like an organised, professional person whose back will be happier for longer.

I've seen every episode of Gilmore Girls thirteen times because I used to need background chatter when I was sketching or moving vectors around, to let my mind coast, but now, when I'm doing a serious chunk of editing or writing, it's silence. For that I've got Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones. When it's just emailing or researching or playing games or cooking or cleaning at home, though, we've got a couple of Sonos Play:3 speakers. My phone is a silver iPhone 8 Plus -- a recent upgrade that's rendered my useless Kogan Universal power bank even more useless. And what kind of Australian editor would I be without my hard-copy, last-revised-in-2002 Style Manual: For authors, editors and printers? (Please, Malcolm: grant us the seventh edition.)

And what software?

I use Inbox by Gmail on my phone and in a separate Chrome tab for my personal email account. For my two work accounts, I'm in Gmail across two other tabs. I can't shake Calendar on my Macs, but I love Google Calendar on my phone. I'm a sucker for pretty illustrations.

We use Slack at work. For project management we're using Airtable, and we've switched to Dropbox Paper for writing, editing and submitting our words. It makes for a smooth query and collaboration process -- and I like posting the wizard stickers. Our online shop's built on Shopify, so I'm in there daily, and we've got MailChimp on standby for our semi-regular e-newsletter: the Good Copy Gazette. I've got Adobe Creative Cloud, too; I regularly need Acrobat, InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator for work and side projects. But, man, the GPU rendering problems...

I've literally just downloaded iA Writer, after months (years) of recommendations. It's nice! I do most of my editing and proofreading on-screen. If it's a quick thing, it'll be in plain text; otherwise, it's in Microsoft Word (Office 365), because everyone's in there) and Acrobat (because PDFs). Both are frustrating! I'd give my favourite fine-point red pen for a simple, accurate, user- and reader-friendly screen-editing program. The future is now, people. My digital subscriptions -- AP Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, Macquarie Dictionary -- are my life's blood, basically, as are BuzzFeed's style guide; the content standards of Shopify's design system, Polaris; and MailChimp's content style guide. I. Love. Style. Guides.

Spotify is my music thing and Overcast is my podcasts thing. I want to use apps like Duolingo more regularly, to help me get started in French and level up in German (specifically, its grammar). I also can't stop building worlds in the Battle of Polytopia or rematching my boyfriend in Words With Friends 2.

What would be your dream setup?

Big windows. Huge. Loads of natural light, and native grasses and bush and waterways in view for kilometres upon kilometres. A Mac on a stand, like my current work set-up, but on a luxuriously spacious desk and with so many reference books on nearby shelves. A comfortable chair that supports my back, and a border terrier ready for a pat.

I'd also have space/time to draw again. I'd have an endless supply of perfectly textured paper and greylead pencils that are just the right grade. And I'd have heaters pointed at my extremities in winter. I have terrible circulation.

I'd have said goodbye to my Mac curse! Praise Jobs. My version of Acrobat wouldn't bug out, and its screen-editing tools would help me mark up corrections accurately. Better yet: I'd have some other simple, intuitive software that lets me handwrite queries and mark up good ol' proofreaders' marks on a tablet (iPad) using a stylus (Apple Pencil). It'd be as easy as red pen on paper and simpler and more convenient and better for the trees out my window. I want this so much. Is it already a reality? Send help.