how to be better editor

Want to become a great editor? Whether you want to be a book editor or you want to work on any kind of content, including business writing, there are certain qualities you need to succeed. In this post, you’ll discover the top six essential steps you can take to start on the path to editorial success.

How to Become a Better Editor 10 Tips to Improve Your Editing Skills

As an editor, your role is pivotal. You ensure content consistently aligns with style guidelines, brand voice, and audience needs. But editing well requires both an eagle eye for details and a nuanced grasp of language and storytelling.

Whether you’re a new editor seeking to level up or a veteran looking to refine your craft, enhancing your skills is a lifelong journey. From building an efficient workflow to studying the masters of editing, there are always avenues to get even better.

Follow these 10 tips to continually advance your editing prowess

1. Create an Editing Checklist

An editing checklist ensures you consistently catch common errors and weaknesses Outline typical issues you encounter such as spelling and grammar mistakes, passive voice, wordy sentences, consistency errors, factual inaccuracies, etc

Before editing each piece, review your checklist to keep these editing priorities top of mind. Customize separate checklists for different types of content like blog posts, research reports, marketing emails, or podcast transcripts.

Checklists help you methodically improve each draft instead of relying on a scattered, ad hoc approach. They enhance thoroughness and prevent key issues from slipping through the cracks.

2. Learn an Established Style Guide Thoroughly

Fluency with a style guide like AP, Chicago, or MLA provides editorial consistency. Study the guide for your organization, industry, or niche. Master guidelines around issues like:

  • Punctuation and grammar
  • Capitalization
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Numbers, symbols, and dates
  • Affiliation and title formatting
  • Citation methodologies
  • Brand name spelling and usage

Knowing the style guide equips you to flag deviations, standardize content, and educate colleagues. Refresh your knowledge regularly as style guides evolve over time.

3. Develop Macro-Editing Skills

Editing happens at both micro and macro levels. Micro-editing involves fixing granular issues in spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation. Macro-editing focuses on broader content flaws in structure, flow, and alignment to goals.

Strong editors address both levels. Read drafts holistically before micro-editing. Is the organization logical? Do arguments flow seamlessly? Is the tone consistent? Does data support conclusions? Macro-editing first strengthens the overall framework.

4. Brush Up on Grammar Rules

Grammatical precision is non-negotiable in editing. While software can catch basic errors, human editing provides nuanced grammatical enhancements.

Refresh English grammar annually. Study guides recommended by respected publications like The Chicago Manual of Style or Grammar Girl. Test yourself with exercises focused on grammar trouble spots.

Pay special attention to areas like:

  • Proper pronoun usage
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Comparative vs superlative adjectives
  • Comma usage
  • Active vs passive voice
  • Dangling participles
  • Pronoun antecedent clarity

Ongoing grammar review ensures you catch subtle issues that undermine content authority.

5. Read Like a Reader, Not an Editor

Approach drafts simultaneously as a reader and editor. Does the content achieve its purpose? Is the narrative compelling? Do arguments resonate? What questions or objections arise?

Imagine the target reader’s mindset. Pinpoint areas that lack clarity or lose audience attention. Propose additions and revisions through their eyes. You edit to guide readers seamlessly through content. Keep their perspective central as you enhance drafts.

6. Cultivate Curiosity and Patience

Great editors balance meticulous attention to detail with big picture vision. Avoid rushing the process. Be curious and fully engage with content instead of skimming superficially.

Patiently reflect on how to strengthen messages and connect with audiences. Don’t default to quick fixes without exploring underlying issues.

Cultivating patience and curiosity results in more incisive insights and substantive edits. You uncover opportunities that surface-level editing misses.

7. Know When to Query vs. Correct

As an editor, decide when to apply changes directly vs. querying the author. Clear errors get corrected immediately. But for substantial revisions, pose diplomatic queries outlining issues and suggesting potential improvements.

Phrasing like, “Consider reworking the opening to directly establish the key tension” encourages authors to rethink approaches while preserving creative control.

Direct corrections maintain quality standards. Queries engage authors and teach self-editing skills. Balance both appropriately.

8. Develop a Style Guide for Your Team

Create an editorial style guide for your organization if lacking. Outline conventions for spelling, grammar, punctuation, branding, voice, formatting, processes, and standard phrases.

A style guide promotes consistency across teams and content. It also accelerates onboarding and training for new hires. centralized reference prevents repetitive style discussions.

Start by compiling existing guidelines, then expand with additional areas. Seek team input to enhance guide usefulness. Regularly update the style guide as needed.

9. Master Editing Software

Editing software like PerfectIt, Grammarly, or ProWritingAid aids efficiency. Learn capabilities thoroughly to maximize value. Adjust settings for optimal accuracy on your content types.

Understand software limitations too. Tools may miss or misflag complex errors. Use them to augment human editing rather than replacing it.

Testing software against style guides and expert-edited drafts reveals effectiveness for your needs. Combining software with sharper human editing delivers powerful results.

10. Continually Study the Masters

Extensive reading exposes you to masterful editing. Analyze how the pros perfect narrative flow, strengthen arguments, and enhance clarity. Study editorial choices in books from leading non-fiction authors and publications known for stringent editing.

Emulate techniques that resonate with you. Compare an original draft against the edited version to reveal the transformative power of editing. Analyzing masters hones your editing instincts.

The Path to Editing Excellence

Editing excellence isn’t about pedantry but about connecting readers with ideas and narratives. There is always room for improvement in this intricate craft. Commit to lifelong improvement by incorporating these tips into your editing practices.

The rewards will be substantive. You’ll enhance content persuasiveness and coherence while providing authors with collaborative guidance. Readers will find information easier to digest and stories more immersive.

To recap, here are five ways to take your editing prowess to the next level:

  • Maintain a Style Guide fluency
  • Balance macro and micro-editing
  • Study the editing of masters
  • Develop patience in the process
  • Continually build your grammar skills

Editing plays a profound role in knowledge sharing. As your expertise grows, so does your ability to enrich reader experiences. There’s always another level to reach. Keep your curiosity stoked as you hone your abilities every single day.

how to be better editor

#4 You Can Work Within Boundaries

One thing I teach students in my line editing course, The Art of Line Editing, is how to work within the parameters of a project. There is a methodology to follow; having the knowledge and power to edit content and rewrite it doesn’t mean that you have carte blanche as an editor.

Editing is not a skill that is wielded without reason. You have to be able to recognize why a sentence is awkward and then, based on various factors, write an edit that is suitable.

You also have to respect the writer’s boundaries. Most writers have a clear idea of what they like and don’t like; some of their preferences can be negotiable, while others may not. Part of an editor’s job is to work within the writer’s preferences and balance that with what is best for the reader.

#1 Learn To See The Bigger Picture

Editors look at the “big picture” view of content, and they professionally assess what needs to be changed based on several factors. They edit to refine the message or story in order to fulfill genre expectations and to meet the client’s needs.

For both line editing and developmental editing, being able to look at the bigger picture is vital. Unlike proofreaders or copy editors who look at the micro — the fine details like spelling, punctuation, consistency, and formatting — editors look at the macro. Editors are focused on how effectively language, structure, and pacing communicate the message or story.

5½ EASY YouTube Editing Tips To Make BETTER VIDEOS!

How do I become a better editor?

“The best way to be a better editor is to read, read, read,” says Julie Artz. Hopefully, you’ve chosen an editing career because you’re already an avid reader, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve on your reading habits. Read aggressively within the genres you edit most, and take the time to interrogate what you read.

What makes a good editor?

You stay true to the author’s vision Though a good editor is knowledgeable enough to advise changes with confidence, they also take care to interrogate their own bias. Tracy stresses the importance of making the book meet the author’s vision, rather than approaching projects with a personal agenda.

How can i Improve my editing skills?

Here are some tips to improve your editing skills: 1. Keep a checklist It’s important to have a checklist of the most common errors you see while editing projects. While some may be more pronounced, like certain punctuation or grammar errors, others might require a more in-depth editing process.

Is editing a good career?

Editing is a great career or side hustle that truly allows you to embrace working and living on your terms. That’s because editors enjoy a flexible schedule and the ability to choose who they work with. I’ve trained people all over the world how to build profitable editing businesses.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *