About editing

What is editing?

Editing involves a wide range of tasks, including correcting errors of grammar, spelling and punctuation; recrafting overly wordy, confusing or unclear sentences; ensuring a clear and logical structure; checking or inputting formatting and MS Word styles; ensuring appropriate language for the purpose, audience and context; formatting citation styles; and ensuring consistent language and style. There are three main types of editing, which are outlined below. When an editor works on a document, there is often some overlap between the three.

Much of the work that I do involves a combination of copyediting and substantive editing, which I complete in one or two passes of the document, as agreed. But once I have assessed the document and we have discussed your needs, we can agree on the tasks to be undertaken. Regardless of the agreed scope of work, I will always cover the essentials and ensure a polished document that retains your voice and is tailored to the purpose, context and audience.

Types of editing
    • determining whether substantial changes to the structure or content are required, and if so, working with the author to implement these changes
    • ensuring that the language is appropriate to the context, purpose and audience
    • ensuring that the language and style are consistent
    • ensuring that ideas and information are presented in a logical order and a clear, concise and consistent manner
    • ensuring that all illustrative elements such as tables and figures are clearly presented and organised appropriately
    • including the required navigation aids
    • eliminating inappropriate language, unnecessary repetition, excessive wordiness, and unwieldy or overly complex expression.
    • correcting errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax
    • ensuring clarity and felicity of expression
    • checking the organisation and formatting of all elements of the document, such as headings, page numbering, and figures and tables
    • ensuring consistency of spelling and style in line with the chosen style guidelines 
    • ensuring the correct formatting of elements of the document, including referencing styles
    • checking references to sections, tables, figures etc. in the main text    
    • checking data in figures and tables against references to such in the main text    
    • cross-checking in-text citations against a reference list, as needed   
    • ensuring the formatting of references aligns with the chosen style
    • assessing the text in relation to accessibility and inclusion and suggesting appropriate changes.
    • ensuring that all elements are in place and that the document is complete
    • ensuring that all prior changes and corrections have been input
    • correcting any final errors in textual and visual elements
    • ensuring consistency with chosen style guidelines
    • checking for any problems with the document format and layout.

Ensuring consistency of style and conforming to the chosen or appropriate style and formatting guidelines and conventions is critical to ensuring a polished, print-ready document. Publishers and other organisations may follow one of the major style guides or develop their own style guidelines. Either way, I am well-versed at applying specific guidelines to documents to ensure compliance and consistency.

Some of the major style guides include:

    • University of Chicago Press, Chicago Manual of Style
    • Australian Government, Style Manual
    • APA, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Reference books

  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edn, University of Chicago Press.
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edn, APA.
  • Burchfield, R. W. 2005, Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
  • Strunk, W. & White, E. B., The elements of style, 4th edn.
  • Hudson, N. 2015, Modern Australian usage: a practical guide for writers and editors, Allen & Unwin.
  • Mackenzie, J. 2011, The editor’s companion, Cambridge University Press.
  • Peters, P. 2007, The Cambridge guide to Australian English usage, Cambridge University Press.
  • Butcher, Judith, Drake, Caroline & Leach, Maureen 2006, Butcher’s Copy-editing, 4th edn, Cambridge University Press.
  • Waddingham, A. 2014New Hart’s rules: the Oxford style guide, Oxford University Press.
  • Flann, E. & Hill, B. 2004, The Australian editing handbook, Wiley.
  • Saller, Carol Fisher 2016, The subversive copy editor, University of Chicago Press.
  • Germano, William 2013, From dissertation to book, University of Chicago Press.
  • Butler, Sue 2020, Rebel without a clause, Pan Macmillan Australia.
  • Tredinnick, Mark 2006, The little red writing book, UNSW Press.
  • Truss, Lynne 2009, Eats, shoots and leaves, Fourth Estate.
  • Wellisch, Hans W. 1996, Indexing from A to Z, H. W. Wilson.
  • Browne, Glenda & Jermey, Jon 2007, The indexing companion, Cambridge University Press.
  • Mulvaney, Nancy 2005, Indexing books, University of Chicago Press.