How To Edit ....

18 June 2015
 Categories: , Blog


If you have a knack for words and have mastered turn of phrase, you may consider a career in editing. Yet being an editor takes more than aptitude--strategy is key. To become an effective and efficient editor, follow these steps for how to critique any written work.


It's often wise to read through the entire manuscript to understand it as a whole. You don't even have to be in editor-mode yet. Look at it from the perspective of a reader. What jumps out at you? Is the writing clear and concise?

You may wish to jot down thoughts and impressions you may have on the computer or a sheet of paper. You may wish to remember these thoughts later when you get into the nitty-gritty of the piece.

Another piece of advice is to take a break after your initial read-through so you can let the ideas of the work settle in your mind. Return with a fresh pair of eyes and point of view before you get into heavy-duty editing.

Substantive Editing

Many novice editors are tempted to jump into the grammar and punctuation errors next. Yet most experienced editors will tell you that this may be pointless before a substantive edit. This step refers to editing for structure and global issues.

Some editors find it helpful to make notes in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper to label parts of the manuscript. This can help you see how the work is outlined. 

Now that you see how the ideas are laid out, you can rearrange them to be clearer and be more organized. Pay special attention to how sentences flow and how they build on each other. When you move these things around, also mind how the new order transitions from one idea to the next.


When you are satisfied with the structure of the piece, you can begin copyediting. This means correcting grammar, punctuation, and other issues according to the standard rules of English.

This step also requires editing for style. Style refers to an organization's preferences and particular choices about punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and so on. Popular styles include the Chicago Manual of Style, American Psychological Association, and Modern Language Association.

Additionally, you should do fact-checking and source-checking during this step. Last of all, perform formatting to ensure the manuscript is visually appealing.

When you go through these steps in this order, you're sure to produce not only a clean manuscript but meet deadlines quickly. If you need a piece edited, but aren't sure that you are up to the task, check to see if your printing services provider also provides editing services.