What Content Editors Do

No single best approach exists to edit a document. You can possibly edit a sentence in several ways, and editing documents can be a bit difficult for novice editors. Without a doubt, content editing entails vast working experience and extensive training to perfect.

In the world of freelancing, however, many fine content editors don't really have a degree in journalism or similar qualification. Through sheer determination and plain self-study, they become self-made editors.

This is made possible due to the vast number of resources available on the Internet. This is really true because I am one of these self-made editors.

Anyone looking to become a content editor need only understand a few ideas to get started. This article will give you a clear explanation.

The Work of a Content Editor

The job of a content editor can be difficult. He or she may need to take several things into consideration when editing a piece of content.

A coworker in an outsourcing platform I work in made a tremendous change in my editing career. She said:

As content editors, our primary role is to ensure each sentence:

1. Is grammatically correct
2. Has a clear meaning
3. Retains the meaning of the author

There you go. That's what content editing is. Let's discuss each shortly.

Correct Grammar

Sentences that are grammatically correct don't have any errors in:

  • Sentence structure: omitted words, run-on sentences, and fragments
  • Parallelism
  • Subject-verb agreement in number
  • Pronoun-antecedent agreement
  • Tense of the verb

Definite Meaning

To ensure each sentence has a clear meaning, try and enhance your choice of words and correct weird phrases. To achieve this goal, there are times when you need to recast the whole sentence or paragraph. Find out the answers to the following questions to figure out if rewording is really necessary:

  • Does any sentence sound like an ESL one?
  • Does each word have purpose?
  • Is the sentence comprehensible?

Retaining the Author's Meaning

You should do your best to maintain the original meaning of the text. Keep this in mind every time you are given an editing assignment. Make your edits to a minimum to be safe. When you need to do a substantial edit, inform the author about your changes by leaving a comment. Make sure your comment is seen in a positive light by writing it in a professional manner.

Copy Editing Techniques for New Content Editors

New copy editors often find it hard to decide about the editing style to use in some situations. While some clients communicate their preferred editing style at the start, some don't even bother about it, probably because they are not familiar with any style. In this situation, make your choice based on the style used by most editors.

Below are some tips that might help content editors like you in your editing tasks. I learned these ideas from my own editing experience.

  • Do not use serial comma if the writer obviously does not use this anywhere in the content. If he or she jumps from serial comma or otherwise, choose one style and follow through.

Example: I would like to devote this song to Precious, Gina, and Love.

  • The author here uses serial comma, and you are required to follow this style to the end.
  • When Chicago editing style is preferred, use Merriam Webster as the default dictionary. This is to ensure you do not commit any error concerning the spelling of words. Default to any spelling provided in there. Most clients prefer this dictionary more than dictionary.com and others, regardless of the editing style.

For instance, Merriam Webster uses "long-standing" alone, while dictionary.com shows both "longstanding" and "long-standing." Choose only one dictionary before commencing an editing work.

  • Make sure you know what documentation style is preferred by the author. If he or she likes APA style, follow it all throughout, from citations to works cited.
  • Do not use quotation marks for new terms. Use italics instead.

Example: Nonmedical usage refers to the application of painkillers only to obtain their euphoric effects and without first receiving a prescription.

  • Most situations call for double quotes. This is the standard in American formatting content editors should observe. Single quotes are restricted to cases where a quote is within another bigger quotation.

Example: An article about insomnia treatments indicates, "Over 50 percent of patients said they were 'really satisfied' with the result."

  • In virtually all styles, commas and periods go inside quotations marks, and semicolons and colons are put outside.

Example: This is how it appeared in the original manuscript."

Example: When she said, "Aspiration is a progenitor of inspiration," she was not joking around.

Perhaps you already have a good sense of what is copy editing after reading this article. In its simplest sense, copy editing entails making sentences grammatically sound, with a definite meaning, and in harmony with the author's original intent.