Discussion: the key to good editing

May 13, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: editing.

One of the most difficult things to teach beginning editing students is, somewhat oddly, attitude.

While no one should be cocky or uncivil, a good copyeditor must have the confidence not only to spot errors but also to change the copy to make it better. That is reasonably easy to do when they are dealing with technical matters – spelling, grammar, style rules, etc. – where the rules are explicit. It is much more difficult when changing copy calls upon editors to use their judgment and to have confidence in that judgment.

An editor must consider any piece of copy his or her own – must “take possession” of it, in the modern phrase. A good editor does not hesitate to see what it wrong, recognize how it should be changed and then change it.

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