The editorial process

The first thing

You  might have guessed it – it’s our relationship.

The client/writer–editor relationship is vital because the success of the project depends on how well we get along and how comfortable the writer or client feel about giving feedback or being upfront about their needs. Good editors work very hard to develop a good relationship with their writers and clients because they know how it essential it is.

The process and the client

It’s important to the client that they know how much it’s going to cost them to have a document edited. To learn more about Textshop’s pricing go to this page. Once a fee for services has been agreed on, it’s time to move onto the business of editing.

Hang on, do you have a style guide?

After the unedited document is handed over to the editor the most important thing they will need to know is whether the client wants their document edited to a specific style. If they, or the company they work for, don’t have a house style guide then we can use the Textshop Editorial Style Guide, available for download on our home page.

We can also use the Australian Government Style Manual, which is the definitive source for professional editors. Unfortunately, it was last published in 2002, and badly needs to be updated. Good news is they’re working on it! The seventh edition is moving to Beta development during 2019.

How do editors actually edit?

Most of the time the editor will edit in track changes in a Word document. All edits show up in the side panel as ‘deleted’ or in coloured text within the body of the document as additions. We make good use of the ‘Comment’ function to bring the writer or client’s attention to an issue, to ask a question or to insert suggestions for the client or writer to consider.

The second method of editing is called ‘standard proofreading marks’ or ‘editorial markup’. This is used in publishing houses to proofread laid out pages that have already been edited – a sort of last check. It’s also used to edit documents that have been laid out such as annual reports and journal articles.

Proofreading marks have a long history in publishing and have evolved over time. You can see some in action in The Chicago Manual of Style.

And back to you

The editor may have questions during the edit and this is why the relationship between the client and editor is important. Communicating back and forth when necessary keeps the momentum of the edit going and greatly improves the editor’s capacity to do a great job for the client.

Once the edit is complete, the editor hands the edited document back to the client with a short brief. Some editors put their notes into track changes so they’re in context – others write out notes for the client separately.

Sometimes the client will want the editor to check the document again after they’ve dealt with the track changes or perhaps even made further changes. I’m always happy to take a second look as it gives the client peace of mind prior to  publishing. If the project is hard copy, such as an annual report, then signing it off for the printer can be a scary exercise. I’ve sent hundreds of textbooks, journals, magazines, newspapers and assorted printed documents to the printer, so I’m always happy to do a final check.