A few resources for editors, particularly those just out of school or still new to the role, to be added to the many other informational pieces you'll find posted online. Yes, read all you can lay your hands on. Yes, set up informational interviews. Yes, join editing groups and talk with seasoned editors. Yes, take internships or low-paying work to gain experience and samples. All of that helps, as does practice, mentored practice. 

Because, as is the case with any learned skill, getting good at editing is not merely about the hours you put in. It's about those hours of "deliberate practice." Guided, focused practice, with correction. (Not Malcolm Gladwell, but Anders Ericsson.)

So, if you are able, above all: find a mentor. 


Letter to a novice editor

Well, it’s true that no two editors will come up with exactly the same solutions. Each editor will bring individual sensibilities to the work, as well as different ranges of experience, different schooling. ¶ But in terms of the passages we’ve been reviewing, where the issues center primarily on glitches of sentence construction and logic ...
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Evaluating a piece of writing? Consider a rubric

When a piece of writing works well, everything coalesces into one beautiful whole. Conversely, when the writing falls short, it can sometimes be difficult to sort out from the tangle where it’s working and where not. ¶ Thinking in terms of a few key aspects of writing — simple mechanics, sentence structure, flow of thought, structure and organization — can help you to organize your thinking, both for how you might comment on the piece and

Editing, you say?

When I was at a startup in the early ’90s and we were building our department, we took on as editor someone very new to the profession. She had studied design in school, and the portfolio she brought us was filled with visual pieces. But she had an ear for the language, she had a passion for reading and could parse a sentence, she was sharp and analytical, and she soon picked things up. She took classes, she asked questions, she worked with each of us in turn, we monitored her early work, and with this focused and dedicated approach, she developed into a fine editor. She later went on to become a pubs manager, then an editing manager, and she’s now a director.

A checklist for technical documentation

Checklists are an essential tool for ensuring that the editing you do is both comprehensive and consistent. Checklists can help you determine the level of edit a particular doc needs and they can help you stay within the bounds of that level — or at least, remind you when you’re editing to one level and when to another. Technical editors often haven’t the luxury of working within one level alone, but must address whatever issues there are in the time

The editor’s bookshelf

The skills an editor develops over a lifetime of editing are the tools in her toolkit. Integral to developing and honing those skills are the books in her life. The books she reads for pleasure, making the rhythms of the language (or languages) intuitively her own. And the books she reads and studies specifically to learn more about how the language works, about how written (and visual) communication best informs and teaches, about how writing is parsed by readers, about the conventions and ...