By Jerry Brown, APR (used by permission)
Good editing is a blessing, bad editing a curse. Unfortunately, there are more bad editors than good ones.
The reason for this unfortunate situation is that too many of us don’t know when to quit editing other people’s copy and when to keep editing our own.
Be ruthless when editing your own copy. Get out your axe and chop away. But be gentle when editing someone else’s. Put away your axe and use a scalpel.
In fact, one of the true marks of a really good editor is that s/he knows when to leave things alone. We all have our own unique way of saying things. Your job when editing someone else’s copy isn’t to turn their words into yours. Your job is to help them say what they have to say clearly and accurately.
If you’re editing someone else’s copy and find a typo or grammatical error, fix it. If you find something that isn’t clear, make it clearer. Better yet, tell the writer why it isn’t clear to you and encourage her/him to clarify what s/he has to say. If there are extra words that don’t add anything worthwhile, take them out. If you find a mistake, fix it. If you find something you suspect could be a mistake, check it out — or suggest the writer check it out.
What’s written is accurate and clear but you’d say it differently? Leave it alone. You’re not the writer. Your job is to help the writer, not replace the writer’s voice with your own.
It’s a different story when it comes to editing your own copy. Then it’s time to be ruthless.
Jerry Brown specializes in Media Training, Media Relationships, and Message Development at www.pr-impact.com. Do you agree with Jerry’s point of view? When you pay for an editor, what are your expectations–gentle or ruthless? Share your thoughts below.