Editing standards

IPEd's Australian standards for editing practice sets out the core standards that professional editors should meet.
For more information on the history of the Standards, how to obtain a copy or to print a copy, visit the Australian standards for editing practice webpage.

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Editors work with writers for the benefit of readers. They help writers get their message across with greater clarity, elegance, forcefulness and insight.

What editors do

Three levels of editing

Where editors work

Accredited and distinguished editors

An editor’s skills

How to become an editor

If it is written, an editor can help. Books and newsletters, brochures and educational materials, advertisements and scholarly articles, government and annual reports, websites and poetry – an editor’s deft touch can improve their effectiveness in reaching their target audience.

It is all about time and money – think what you could save in explanation and correction after publication.

Skilled editors, such as accredited and distinguished editors, are communication specialists and an invaluable resource for all publishing projects.

What editors do

An editor can:

  • act as an impartial first reader before you launch your words on the world
  • structure your documents logically
  • choose the right style and language
  • help you use illustrations to advantage
  • remove ambiguity and clarify your meaning
  • correct grammar and spelling
  • simplify obscure language and bureaucratic, technical or specialist jargon
  • help you get straight to the point
  • ensure consistency in style and language
  • help you manage large communication projects
  • make your novel more appealing to an agent or a publisher.

Three levels of editing

Editors can provide three levels of service, depending on the stage of production:

  • proofread for errors as a final check
  • copyedit for grammar, spelling and consistency
  • offer substantive or structural editing, where the editor is involved from the outset, advising writers how they can improve their work.

Where editors work

The editing profession extends far beyond the traditional publishing industry. It has become amorphous, shading into allied areas such as ghost writing, instructional design and information architecture, as well the more usual excursions into copywriting and subediting.

In educational publishing, some editors play such a large role that they are paid royalties as authors.

Many editors work outside the publishing industry with titles like communications manager or publications officer, in some cases as a one-person media department.

Editors have responded to changing technology by developing skills in typesetting, graphic design, website design and ebooks.

Accredited and distinguished editors

IPEd manages a national accreditation scheme for editors. It ensures editors who meet the Australian standards for editing practice are known and acknowledged for their highly developed skills and professionalism.

Accredited editors (AEs), those who have passed a rigorous exam, and distinguished editors (DEs), those who were appointed by IPEd to mark the first exams, meet the highest editing standards.

You can be confident in giving custody of your words to accredited and distinguished editors.

They will discuss your work with you, preserve your voice and message, and correct and improve the text within agreed timelines and budgets.

An editor’s skills

Communication skills

Editors are articulate and communicate lucidly in writing. They can write in various registers and styles and take on the voice of an author.

Social skills

Editors are tactful, patient, flexible, good at negotiating and have respect for others’ views.

Cognitive skills

Editors are good at abstract, inductive, critical thinking. They quickly identify the essence of a piece of writing and grasp underlying concepts and themes.

Reading skills

Editors use many strategies to gain meaning from text, such as skimming, skipping and parsing.

Imagination and initiative

Editors perceive how to transform raw text into an effective publication by imagining the reader’s needs. They are resourceful in solving problems and finding information.

Concentration, perseverance, attention to detail

Editors engage with complex written material for days or weeks at a time. They are methodical and meticulous, performing tedious, repetitive tasks with painstaking care.

Managerial and administrative skills

Editors are good at organising, prioritising, and meeting deadlines. They keep track of numerous multi-stage projects over extended periods.

Team players

Editors collaborate well, and they expect the author or the publishing team to take credit for their work.

How to become an editor

Editors start their careers in editing and gain their skills through formal education, experience, on-the-job training, mentoring and other career paths.

Find an editor

Branches of IPEd maintain registers of freelance editors, including IPEd accredited and distinguished editors.

Find

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