The Secrets of The PAL (Part 1)
Steve Colwell is the original TypeWell guru, having created the software and improved and updated it from the beginning. When I wanted to revisit “best practices” for using the transcriber’s Personal Abbreviation List (PAL), he was my go-to guy! Below is part of our recent online conversation.
Ken: Hi, Steve! Now that TypeWell V7 provides that handy column that tells you how many days it’s been since you used each abbreviation in your PAL, I wanted to get a little more information on that. If a transcriber sees a high number in that column, indicating that it’s been say, 120 days since an abbreviation was used, should that transcriber delete it?
Steve: For most abbreviations, yes. If it's not used, get rid of it. If it's an extension of the regular TW rules though, like adding a word that is missing from the dictionary, then definitely keep it. Rule-abiding abbreviations don't get in the way so it's good to keep them forever.
Ken: What does it mean if there is a “0” in the usage column?
Steve: A “0” in the Days column means that particular abbreviation in your PAL was used today.
The MultiPAL in V7 allows another level of growth for the long-term transcriber.
Ken: How does this work across multiple PALs (i.e., the MultiPAL feature, available in TypeWell V7 only)?
Steve: The usage column shows for each abbreviation, whichever PAL it may be in. TW figures out which version was used for an expansion, tracks down the definition in whatever PAL it maybe have been in, and indicates the time-since-use figure there.
Ken: When you designed this feature, what was your thinking about how it should be used?
Steve: I was thinking that transcribers hadn't been able to quickly identify the abbreviations that they use frequently and those they never use. That was keeping them from maintaining their PALs effectively, both for pruning unused abbreviations, and for adding new ones such as for variant endings of abbreviations that have proved useful.
Ken: Is there a comprehensive "user's manual" for PAL on the TypeWell site that we can refer to?
Steve: The "user manual" on these new V7 features is on the Help page in TW; just check out “What's New.” It's actually not a manual but that's good because manuals can be boring! This is a concise guide to the new features.
Ken: I see! We open up the TypeWell Transcriber program on our computer, find the “Help” pull-down menu, and select “What’s New.” So it’s actually not accessed online in the Support Center; it’s installed right on the C: drive of the computer we use for transcribing. Cool! (I note that this is not available in our TypeWell Everywhere V7 software.)
What do you think are the coolest new features in TypeWell V7?
Steve: I think Turbo 2 is cool because I love short abbreviations. And “profiles” are a nice PAL-related feature so you can switch PAL configurations with a single keystroke. But of course most transcribers like the MultiPAL best in V7 because it allows another whole level of growth for the long-term transcriber. And then there are the teaming improvements we've added to Web Linking lately — it's hard to choose my favorite!
If a PAL abbreviation is not used, just get rid of it.
By the way, I didn’t come up with all this stuff on my own! Kate Ervin made many excellent contributions.
Ken: Thanks, Steve. In the second part of our PAL discussion, we’ll look at what types of abbreviations are cool to add to our PAL, and which types of abbreviations are best to avoid. By the way, if you are a transcriber and have not yet upgraded to V7, please consider it. There are some new Turbo abbreviations that will blow your mind, and save you a lot of time.
Continued in Part 2