As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I’ve adopted a minimalist approach to editing. But what does that actually look like?
Assuming an author asks for a standard edit, these are the corrections I will make per the rules set forth in both Merriam-Webster and the Chicago Manual of Style:
- commonly confused words
- punctuation (including quotation marks, dashes, ellipses, brackets, etc.)
- titles (i.e., “Foreword,” “Contents,” etc.)
- fonts (for consistency)
- footnotes, endnotes, and in-text citations (but only for consistency)
For everything else, when I have questions, I query:
- awkward transitions (if this is manuscript-wide, I’ll query once for the entire text)
- inconsistencies (including point of view)
- quotes (I always research to make sure the quote is correct; if it isn’t, I query)
- source names and titles (if I can find the source, I always check it against the text)
- potential libel, defamation, and slander
- potential copyright infringement
- potential racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
- anything that seems out of place (for example, if an idea sounds familiar but isn’t cited, I’ll research, then query if citation is needed)
Again, these are for a standard edit. Critiques, developmental edits, and the like differ depending upon what the client asks for.
No matter what, all editing follows the rule of “First, do no harm.”