The Complete Editor

May 11, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: textbooks.

The Complete Editor offers a basic, straightforward approach to learning the skills that a modern editor needs and to developing the mindset to be a good editor. Filled with abundant exercise material, the book provides instructors with many resources to use in teaching their students about copyediting, headline writing, decision-making, relationships with writers, graphic presentations, photo editing and layout and design. The book also contains a separate chapter on legal principles that an editor needs to understand. The efficient and well-written text of each chapter gives students basic information about the topics at hand and allows instructors to begin discussions of all of the basics of editing.

Order the book from Barnes and Noble.

Book web site at Allyn and Bacon


Abundant in-class and out-of-class exercises reflecting all phases of the editing process provide students and instructors with a wealth of resources.

Real-life examples of editorial decision making, many based on the authors’ professional experience, add a practical, real-world perspective.

Principles of good writing and sound news judgment are emphasized, allowing students to apply their skills to any medium.

Chapters devoted to a wide variety of editing skills provide in-depth instruction in copyediting; management, decision making and relationships with writers; writing headlines and summaries; photo editing; developing infographics; and layout and design.

Clear, precise explanations of the skills it takes to be a good editor help students develop a professional mindset.

The “Five Commandments of Editing” help students go from merely fixing copy to adding value to it.

An extensive chapter on graphic presentation provides explanations about what kind of information is most appropriate for certain types of charts and the conventions of using maps.


Praise for The Complete Editor


“This is by far the best-written editing text I have ever read.”

Carlton M. “Sonny” Rhodes, University of Arkansas, Little Rock

“One problem with too many editing texts is that they spend a lot of time on detail, which students may or may not absorb. This text solves that problem.”

Loran E. Lewis Jr., California State University, Fresno


Table of contents

Each chapter concludes with “Exercises.”


1. The Job of the Editor.

The Job of the Editor.

Tools of the Editor.

The Making of News.

Beginning the Editing Process.

Modern Challenges.

2. Tools of the Editor.




Dealing with Words.

Common Writing Errors.

Keepers of the Language.

3. Style and the Stylebook.

Wire Service Stylebooks.

Journalistic Conventions.

Language Sensitivity.

Attention to Detail.

4. Accuracy, Clarity and Brevity.


What to Check.




Types of Writing.

Four Characteristics of Media Writing.

5. The Complete Editor.

Editor-Writer Relationship.

Responsibilities of the Editor.

Honesty and Fairness.


Acting Ethically.

The Five Commandments.

Making Decisions.

6. Headlines and Summaries.

The Job of the Headline.

Types of Headlines.

Principles of Headline Writing.




7. Pictures.

The Photo Editor.



Digital Photography.

Pictures on the Web.

Ethics and Taste.


8. Infographics.

The Graphics Revolution.

Defining Graphics Journalism.

Type-based Graphics.

Chart-based Graphics.

Illustration-based Graphics.

Developing Infographics.


9. Design and Layout.

Visual Logic.

Tools of Design.

Newspaper Design.

Types of Newspaper Design.

Principles of Layout.

Twelve Rules.

News Judgments.

Magazine Design.

Web Design.


10. The Editor and the Law.

The Legal System.

The First Amendment.


Defenses Against Libel.

Constitutional Defenses.


Defenses Against Invasion of Privacy Charges.


Constant Vigilance.

Appendix A: Copyediting Marks.

Appendix B: Diagnostic Test.

Appendix C: Creating Charts in Excel.

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