This article was originally published in Editorial Excellence, the newsletter of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP, formerly the SfEP), in May 2019.
Business editors work on a wide range of business content including reports, strategies, policies, newsletters, blog posts, websites, brochures, marketing material, catalogues, manuals, presentations, directories and survey results. Here are six ways an editor can add value to these documents.
1. An editor can make sure your content is clearly written and complete
An editor can edit and, if necessary, rewrite your content to ensure that:
- the wording, style and tone are suitable for the target reader
- the content flows in a logical order the reader can follow
- there is no confusing or misleading content
- no important information is missing
- no unnecessary information is included
- the layout helps guide the reader, e.g. paragraphs, headings, lists, graphics
- the language, spelling and style are consistent.
2. An editor can check that the basic facts in your content are correct
An editor can check that names are spelled correctly, that you’ve referred to the correct section and year in the legislation and that Thursday 16 November 2018 actually was a Thursday.
3. An editor can rewrite your content into plain English
A plain English editor can help ensure that your content contains:
- language your target audience will understand
- positive and active language
- everyday vocabulary.
And that it avoids:
- long, meandering sentences
- problematic jargon and bureaucratic phrasing
- unnecessary words and phrases
- unnecessary capital letters.
4. An editor can create a style guide for your organisation’s written content
An editor can create and develop a style guide specifically for your organisation. This will guide the people writing your content on things such as:
- Capitalisation – chief executive officer or Chief Executive Officer?
- Numbers and symbols – 20% or 20 per cent?
- Currency – euros or euro?
- Lists – full stops, commas or nothing at the end of bullet points?
- Dates and time – 13 May 2019 or May 13, 2019?
- Spelling preferences – recognise or recognize?
- Quotations – double quote marks or single?
An editor can also include an A–Z list of words, terms and abbreviations used regularly in your business and give guidance on the spelling, capitalisation, etc. of these.
5. An editor can deliver editing and proofreading training to your staff
An editor can provide training on:
- editing and rewriting content
- writing in plain English
- using your organisation’s style guide
6. An editor can proofread your final designed content before it goes to the printer
An editor can proofread your final document to check that:
- a table of contents page matches the actual contents
- headers, footers and page numbers are correct and consistent
- the content is laid out correctly and in the right order
- headings and subheadings are correctly and consistently styled
- lists are consistently styled and punctuated
- images and graphics are clear and placed correctly
- tables and figures are numbered, captioned, referenced and styled correctly
- hyperlinks work and are styled consistently.
Your business content is important, and getting it wrong can be costly and time consuming. An editor can do so much more than just check it for spelling mistakes, so consider contracting a trained professional editor to help you create the best content for your business.
Note: For the record, 16 November 2018 was a Friday and not a Thursday!