Editors and proofreaders require a lot of training. And while they both have different professional responsibilities, the training they require is similar and often overlaps.
What kind of training do you think professional editors and proofreaders should have? What would you add to or remove from the list below?
Usually editors and proofreaders have a four-year degree in English, journalism, or communications from an accredited college or university. This indicates that an individual has some mastery over the English language and that he or she is comfortable with writing and evaluating various types of written text. They tend to have advanced knowledge of English grammar, language, composition, etc.
Sometimes extensive experience in editing or proofreading can substitute for the four-year degree. But this is, of course, at the discretion of the employer.
Editors and proofreaders must have experience reviewing written documents if they’re to be considered for most positions. While education requirements can sometimes be overlooked, experience requirements cannot be. Editors and proofreaders must have extensive practice reviewing written documents or materials before they can expect to secure regular work.
Internships or apprenticeships are great ways for newer editors and proofreaders to gain experience, especially if they want to work for the more venerable and reputable publications (particularly print-based publications). Sometimes employers will require their editors and proofreaders to have writing experience in certain topics or niches before they’re considered for editing roles, as some fields require more technical experience and intimate knowledge than others.
Many employers or publications will require their editors or proofreaders to have a much deeper understanding of the material they’re reviewing, especially if it has a lot of industry-related jargon. For instance, many medical journals will prefer editors or proofreaders who have worked within the healthcare industry firsthand (e.g., nurses and researchers) or who have extensive experience reviewing material within the healthcare industry. And those who edit and proofread material in the technology industry have typically worked directly with technology on some level. And so on.
Editors and proofreaders should be great communicators, because they work with different teams and individuals all the time (including writers, researchers, design teams, digital strategy teams, layout teams, marketing teams, publishing teams, etc.) to produce a comprehensive and cohesive body of written work or materials. What’s more, they are usually under tight production deadlines. So it is imperative that they know how to communicate effectively with others to ensure content is produced within the parameters and scope of the project requirements, on time, every time.
Knowledge of Various Resources
All editors and proofreaders should be aware of common style guides relevant to the material they are reviewing. Each field of writing has its own jargon and style. And many organizations or businesses will create their own style guides too.
A style guide is important because it:
- Establishes and administers style to improve communication
- Ensures consistency within a document and across multiple documents
- Specifies and enforces:
- Best practices in language usage
- Language composition
- Visual composition
- How variably spelled words are handled
- Details for how documents should be formatted
In the 21st century, editors and proofreaders typically receive and review documents electronically. While they may print copies of documents for more thorough reviews sometimes, they still generally submit their edits and corrections to clients and publishers via electronic methods like email or project management platforms.
At minimum, editors and proofreaders should have an intimate familiarity with popular word processing software so they can submit their corrections and suggestions to the appropriate parties in a timely fashion and a common format. And if they review material that’s published online, they should have familiarity with basic HTML coding and online formatting options, and basic search engine optimization options and techniques.
The English language is constantly evolving. And so are niche-specific industries. For instance, artificial intelligence and opioids weren’t always written about and researched. Editors and proofreaders must always refresh their industry-related knowledge, as well as how grammar rules, terms, and words fluctuate over time. Otherwise, they may risk applying outdated grammar rules to documents intended for a more modern-day audience.
Are you an editor or proofreader? Or do you often work with or employ editors and proofreaders? Let us know what you think about this topic in the comments below.