So you think you can edit?

We all know that editing is more than the checking of grammar and spelling. But what, exactly, does it entail? What distinguishes the professional editor from the amateur? What principles motivate the changes that professional editors make?

Test your editing knowledge by taking the quick Elements of Editing Self-Test. Developed for beginning editors from all fields, this self-test may also give experienced editors pause for reflection: Have I been keeping up? Should I perhaps be doing some things differently?

You will be asked to jot down your reactions to just 10 items. We will then review the items to determine if you have successfully identified the core problems and related principles or not. We will briefly consider additional items to make sure that things are clear. And then you, yourself, will decide if you qualify as an amateur or professional editor.

Drawing on the work of Yagoda (How to Not Write Bad, 2013) and my own work (The Elements of English Editing, 2013), the self-test was developed to stimulate reflection, discussion, and professional development. The 10 items highlight just how many of the corrections and comments made on the writing of native but also non-native speakers of English today (or much of what editors revise for a living) concern a very small number of core writing problems. Awareness of these problems and the best ways to avoid them are part of the professional editor’s job, and raising awareness of the relevant principles is the aim of today’s presentation