What is editing?

The term ‘editing’ can be very misleading as many people understand a lot of different things by this.


For example, if you were to perform a Google search for ‘editing’, approximately 469 000 000 results would be returned in a matter of seconds. The first entry from Wikipedia defining ‘editing’ as “… the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information.” (The phrase ‘hedging one’s bets’ comes to mind…)


In this article, I delve deeper into what editing a piece of text actually entails.


Editing 101


Editing a piece of text – in other words, editing a piece of copy – does not merely involve checking the text for grammar and typos.


The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) – the UK-based body that governs editors – states that editing involves getting a piece of text ready for publication in, for example, a book, brochure or website.


The next logical question that should be asked is “What does getting a piece of text ‘ready’ for publication mean?”


What is editing


There are a number of steps involved depending on what type of publication you’re dealing with:


  • In terms of a book, the editor will work with the author in order to mould the manuscript into a final edition that can be published. This is what the Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd) – the Australian version of SfEP – defines as substantive editing.


  • However, in the process of producing a magazine the editor of that particular publication will choose the articles that are to be incorporated into that particular edition of the magazine. He or she then moulds them according to the publication house’s style. As the editor is often a subject specialist in the genre of the magazine, this process would involve very little collaboration with the author of the original piece.


If you need someone to assist you with editing – i.e. substantive editing – of your manuscript or article – please click here to leave me your details.