Chapter 1 - Tips for Editors

How To Be an Effective Editor

Editing is a process. You can’t run through an article once and expect your work to be done. You need to set up a system that helps you meet the high expectations of the job and your clients.

Here is a ten step process for being an effective editor publishers, writers, and clients will love.

  1. Get started as soon as you receive the assignment notification.
    Don’t start your assignment when the work is submitted by the writer. Start reviewing the assignment as soon as you receive it, and schedule it on your calendar (with a due date that is one day ahead).
  2. Thoroughly review the style guide/assignment brief.
    Before you can begin editing an assignment, you should have a deep understanding of the assignment style guide or brief so you know what to look for while you edit. Print off a copy and keep it near you as you edit.
  3. Communicate with your project manager/managing editor.
    If you have any questions about the assignment style guide or brief, contact your project manager/managing editor immediately. You want to make sure to have all of your questions answered before you receive the copy for editing.
  4. Fact/accuracy check.
    Take a quick look at the copy to make sure that it matches the requirements of the assignment style guide/brief. Then check all the facts.
  5. Edit/proofread once.
    Make changes to improve clarity and correct all errors.
  6. Walk away.
    It’s important to take a break while editing copy. If you are working on more than one piece of copy, go through each piece up until this point then walk away. Take a break (for no less than 15 minutes), then come back to finish the assignment.
  7. Edit/proofread a second time.
    Read every word and check for errors you may have missed in the first round of editing.
  8. Run spell check.
    Don’t rely on your eyes. Use the spellchecker to make sure the final copy is checked one more time before submission.
  9. Provide feedback.
    Let the writer know how they did so they can improve next time.  By giving consistent constructive feedback, you are helping the writer improve. (Which will make your life easier if you are assigned to edit their work again.)
  10. Submit a day ahead.
    Since you scheduled your due date one day ahead, you can now take a break, relax, and prep for your next editing assignment!
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