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"Quarters of the news editor", one of a group of four photos in the 1900 brochure Seattle and the Orient, which was collectively captioned "The Seattle Daily Times--Editorial Department". Seattle Daily Times news editor quarters - 1900.jpg
"Quarters of the news editor", one of a group of four photos in the 1900 brochure Seattle and the Orient, which was collectively captioned "The Seattle Daily Times—Editorial Department".

Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, photographic, visual, audible, or cinematic material used by a person or an entity to convey a message or information. The editing process can involve correction, condensation, organisation, and many other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate and complete piece of work. [1]


The editing process often begins with the author's idea for the work itself, continuing as a collaboration between the author and the editor as the work is created. Editing can involve creative skills, human relations and a precise set of methods. [2] [3]

Editors work on producing an issue of Bild, West Berlin, 1977. Previous front pages are affixed to the wall behind them. Editorial office of Bild newspaper, West Berlin, 1977.jpg
Editors work on producing an issue of Bild , West Berlin, 1977. Previous front pages are affixed to the wall behind them.

There are various editorial positions in publishing. Typically, one finds editorial assistants reporting to the senior-level editorial staff and directors who report to senior executive editors. Senior executive editors are responsible for developing a product for its final release. The smaller the publication, the more these roles overlap.

The top editor at many publications may be known as the chief editor, executive editor, or simply the editor. A frequent and highly regarded contributor to a magazine may acquire the title of editor-at-large or contributing editor. Mid-level newspaper editors often manage or help to manage sections, such as business, sports and features. In U.S. newspapers, the level below the top editor is usually the managing editor.

In the book publishing industry, editors may organize anthologies and other compilations, produce definitive editions of a classic author's works (scholarly editor), and organize and manage contributions to a multi-author book (symposium editor or volume editor). Obtaining manuscripts or recruiting authors is the role of an acquisitions editor or a commissioning editor in a publishing house. [4] Finding marketable ideas and presenting them to appropriate authors are the responsibilities of a sponsoring editor.

Copy editors correct spelling, grammar and align writings to house style. Changes to the publishing industry since the 1980s have resulted in nearly all copy editing of book manuscripts being outsourced to freelance copy editors. [4]

At newspapers and wire services, press or copy editors write headlines and work on more substantive issues, such as ensuring accuracy, fairness, and taste. In some positions, they design pages and select news stories for inclusion. At U.K. and Australian newspapers, the term is sub-editor. They may choose the layout of the publication and communicate with the printer. These editors may have the title of layout or design editor or (more so in the past) makeup editor.

Page 1 Editor Jack Breibart in the San Francisco Chronicle newsroom, 1994. JACK BREIBART, 1994.jpg
Page 1 Editor Jack Breibart in the San Francisco Chronicle newsroom, 1994.

Scholarly books and journals

Within the publishing environment, editors of scholarly books are of three main types, each with particular responsibilities:

In the case of multi-author edited volumes, before the manuscript is delivered to the publisher it has undergone substantive and linguistic editing by the volume's editor, who works independently of the publisher.

As for scholarly journals, where spontaneous submissions are more common than commissioned works, the position of journal editor or editor-in-chief replaces the acquisitions editor of the book publishing environment, while the roles of production editor and copy editor remain. However, another editor is sometimes involved in the creation of scholarly research articles. Called the authors' editor, this editor works with authors to get a manuscript fit for purpose before it is submitted to a scholarly journal for publication.

The primary difference between copy editing scholarly books and journals and other sorts of copy editing lies in applying the standards of the publisher to the copy. Most scholarly publishers have a preferred style that usually specifies a particular dictionary and style manual—for example, The Chicago Manual of Style , the MLA Style Manual or the APA Publication Manual in the U.S., or the New Hart's Rules in the U.K.

Editing in the 21st Century

Editing has a long history dating back to the earliest times of written language. Over time, editing has evolved greatly, particularly with the emergence of new forms of media and language that have led to a move towards multimodality. [5] Today, hardcopies and print are no longer the main focus of editing as new content like film and audio require different kinds of edits.

Technical editing is now more commonly done using applications and websites on devices, which requires editors to be familiar with online platforms like Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, and Google Docs. The significance and intentions behind editing have also changed, moving beyond print due to the continuous advancements in technology. As a result, the grounds and values of editing have changed as well. [6] For instance, text is often shortened and simplified online because of the preference for quick answers among this generation. Additionally, the advancement in social issues has made it possible to offer easy access to vast amounts of information. [7]

Technical editing

Technical editing involves reviewing text written on a technical topic, identifying usage errors and ensuring adherence to a style guide. It aims to improve the clarity of the text or message from the author to the reader. Technical editing is actually the umbrella term for all the different kinds of edits that might occur. [8]

Technical editing may include the correction of grammatical mistakes, misspellings, mistyping, incorrect punctuation, inconsistencies in usage, poorly structured sentences, wrong scientific terms, wrong units and dimensions, inconsistency in significant figures, technical ambivalence, technical disambiguation, statements conflicting with general scientific knowledge, correction of synopsis, content, index, headings and subheadings, correcting data and chart presentation in a research paper or report, and correcting errors in citations.

From basics to more critical changes, these adjustments to the text can be categorized by the different terms within technical editing. There are policy edits, integrity edits, screening edits, copy clarification edits, format edits and mechanical style edits, language edits, etc. [9]

The two most common and broad are substantive editing and copy editing. Substantive editing is developmental because it guides the drafting process by providing essential building blocks to work off of. They work closely with the author to help supply ideas. Copy editing happens later in the drafting process and focuses on changing the text so that it's consistent throughout in terms of accuracy, style, flow, and so on. This is usually the preferred editing for the surface-level cleaning up of work. [10]

Large companies dedicate experienced writers to the technical editing function. Organizations that cannot afford dedicated editors typically have experienced writers peer-edit text produced by less experienced colleagues.

It helps if the technical editor is familiar with the subject being edited. The "technical" knowledge that an editor gains over time while working on a particular product or technology does give the editor an edge over another who has just started editing content related to that product or technology.

General essential skills include attention to detail, patience, persistence, the ability to sustain focus while working through lengthy pieces of text on complex topics, tact in dealing with writers, and excellent communication skills. Additionally, one does not need an English major to partake but language aptitude certainly helps. [11]

Editing services

Editing is a growing field of work in the service industry. There is little career training offered for editors. [12] Paidediting services may be provided by specialized editing firms or by self-employed (freelance) editors.

Editing firms may employ a team of in-house editors, rely on a network of individual contractors or both. [13] Such firms are able to handle editing in a wide range of topics and genres, depending on the skills of individual editors. The services provided by these editors may be varied and can include proofreading, copy editing, online editing, developmental editing, editing for search engine optimization, etc.

Self-employed editors work directly for clients (e.g., authors, publishers) or offer their services through editing firms, or both. They may specialize in a type of editing (e.g., copy editing) and in a particular subject area. Those who work directly for authors and develop professional relationships with them are called authors' editors. There is hope for self-employed editors because all editing differs based on tradition, experience, education, personal style, values, etc. [14]

Editing Your Own Work

There are many different ways one can think to edit and revise a paper; it all depends on your opinion. Whether it be your own work or a friend's, in a chapter titled "Editing" from The Craft of Professional Writing by Micheal S. Malone claims that there is a series of basic steps to follow when attempting to edit to put them in the right mindset to do so: [15]

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

In legal discourse, an author is the creator of an original work, whether that work is in written, graphic, or recorded medium. In common parlance, an author is often thought of as the writer of a book, article, play, or other written work. In the case of a work for hire, "the employer or commissioning party is considered the author of the work", even if they did not write or otherwise create the work, but merely instructed another individual to do so.

<i>The Chicago Manual of Style</i> Academic style guide by University of Chicago Press

The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 17 editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing. It is "one of the most widely used and respected style guides in the United States".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Textual criticism</span> Identification of textual variants

Textual criticism is a branch of textual scholarship, philology, and literary criticism that is concerned with the identification of textual variants, or different versions, of either manuscripts (mss) or of printed books. Such texts may range in dates from the earliest writing in cuneiform, impressed on clay, for example, to multiple unpublished versions of a 21st-century author's work. Historically, scribes who were paid to copy documents may have been literate, but many were simply copyists, mimicking the shapes of letters without necessarily understanding what they meant. This means that unintentional alterations were common when copying manuscripts by hand. Intentional alterations may have been made as well, for example, the censoring of printed work for political, religious or cultural reasons.

Proofreading is an iterative process of comparing galley proofs against the original manuscripts or graphic artworks to identify transcription errors in the typesetting process. In the past, proofreaders would place corrections or proofreading marks along the margins. In modern publishing, material is generally provided in electronic form, traditional typesetting is no longer used and thus this kind of transcription no longer occurs. Consequently the part played by pure proofreaders in the process has almost vanished: the role has been absorbed into copy editing to such an extent that their names have become interchangeable. Modern copy-editors may check layout alongside their traditional checks on grammar, punctuation and readability.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic publishing</span> Subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship

Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal articles, books or theses. The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted on the Internet is often called "grey literature". Most scientific and scholarly journals, and many academic and scholarly books, though not all, are based on some form of peer review or editorial refereeing to qualify texts for publication. Peer review quality and selectivity standards vary greatly from journal to journal, publisher to publisher, and field to field.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic journal</span> Peer-reviewed scholarly periodical

An academic journal or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as permanent and transparent forums for the presentation, scrutiny, and discussion of research. They nearly universally require peer review or other scrutiny from contemporaries competent and established in their respective fields. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, or book reviews. The purpose of an academic journal, according to Henry Oldenburg, is to give researchers a venue to "impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Copy editing</span> Improving the formatting, style, and accuracy of text

Copy editing is the process of revising written material (copy) to improve readability and fitness, as well as ensuring that a text is free of grammatical and factual errors. The Chicago Manual of Style states that manuscript editing encompasses "simple mechanical corrections through sentence-level interventions to substantial remedial work on literary style and clarity, disorganized passages, baggy prose, muddled tables and figures, and the like ". In the context of print publication, copy editing is done before typesetting and again before proofreading. Outside traditional book and journal publishing, the term "copy editing" is used more broadly, and is sometimes referred to as proofreading; the term sometimes encompasses additional tasks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">APA style</span> Academic style and writing format

APA style is a writing style and format for academic documents such as scholarly journal articles and books. It is commonly used for citing sources within the field of behavioral and social sciences, including sociology, education, health sciences, criminal justice, and anthropology, as well as psychology. It is described in the style guide of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is titled the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. The guidelines were developed to aid reading comprehension in the social and behavioral sciences, for clarity of communication, and for "word choice that best reduces bias in language". APA style is widely used, either entirely or with modifications, by hundreds of other scientific journals, in many textbooks, and in academia. The current edition is its seventh revision.

Standard manuscript format is a formatting style for manuscripts of short stories, novels, poems and other literary works submitted by authors to publishers. Even with the advent of desktop publishing, making it possible for anyone to prepare text that appears professionally typeset, many publishers still require authors to submit manuscripts within their respective guidelines. Although there is no single set of guidelines, the "standard" format describes formatting that is considered to be generally acceptable.

<i>Junkie</i> (novel) 1953 novel by William S. Burroughs

Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict is a novel by American beat generation writer William S. Burroughs, initially published under the pseudonym William Lee in 1953. His first published work, it is semi-autobiographical and focuses on Burroughs' life as a drug user and dealer. It has come to be considered a seminal text on the lifestyle of heroin addicts in the early 1950s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monographic series</span> Continuous collective works of writings

Monographic series are scholarly and scientific books released in successive volumes, each of which is structured like a separate book or scholarly monograph.

AuthorAID is the name given to a number of initiatives that provide support to researchers from developing countries in preparing academic articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Phyllis Freeman and Anthony Robbins, co-editors of the Journal of Public Health Policy (JPHP), first suggested the name and concept in 2004 and published "Closing the ‘publishing gap’ between rich and poor" about AuthorAID on the Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net), in 2005.

Levels of edit describes a cumulative or categorical scheme for revising text. Beginning as a tool that helped standardize communication between writers and editors at a government laboratory, published information about levels of edit was later made available to the general public. Subsequently, others developed a variety of levels of edit, which are now accessible through print and web-based resources.

An edited volume or edited collection is a collection of scholarly or scientific chapters written by different authors. The chapters in an edited volume are original works.

An authors' editor is a language professional who works "with authors to make draft texts fit for purpose". They edit manuscripts that have been drafted by the author but have not yet been submitted to a publisher for publication. This type of editing is called author editing, to distinguish it from other types of editing done for publishers on documents already accepted for publication: an authors' editor works "with an author rather than for a publisher". A term sometimes used synonymously with authors' editor is "manuscript editor" which, however, is less precise as it also refers to editors employed by scholarly journals to edit manuscripts after acceptance.

Developmental editing is a form of writing support that comes into play before or during the production of a publishable manuscript, in both fiction and non-fiction writing. As explained by Scott Norton in his book Developmental editing: a handbook for freelancers, authors, and publishers, developmental editing involves "significant structuring or restructuring of a manuscript's discourse". Developmental editors are a type of language professional.

Language professionals are individuals who support authors in publishing by helping produce documents of appropriate scope and quality. Their role is particularly important in the research setting, especially when the authors are not native English speakers but are required to publish in English for international communication. The work of language professionals falls within the language industry.

A manuscript is the work that an author submits to a publisher, editor, or producer for publication. In publishing, "manuscript" can also refer to one or both of the following:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cheryl E. Ball</span> American educator and scholar (born 1948)

Cheryl Ball is an academic and scholar in rhetoric, composition, and publishing studies, and Director of the Digital Publishing Collaborative at Wayne State University. In the areas of scholarly and digital publishing, Ball is the executive director for the Council of Editors of Learned Journals and the Editor-in-Chief for the Library Publishing Curriculum. Ball also serves as co-editor of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, an open access, online journal dedicated to multimodal academic publishing, which she has edited since 2006. Ball's awards include Best Article on Pedagogy or Curriculum in Technical or Science Communication from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the Computers and Composition Charles Moran Award for Distinguished Service to the Field, and the Technology Innovator Award presented by the CCCC Committee on Computers in Composition and Communication (7Cs). Her book, The New Work of Composing was the winner of the 2012 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award. Her contributions to academic research span the areas of digital publishing, new media scholarship, and multimodal writing pedagogy.


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