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Educated Editing

I have grown tremendously through the editing program at BYU. I have learned aspects
of editing and publishing, and how to implement those aspects. Specifically, Ive learned how to
copy edit, substantive edit, and developmental edit a manuscript; how to design and typeset a
book for print; how to go through the entire publishing process; how to use technology like
Microsoft Word and HTML; how to work in a group with other editors; and how to
communicate with an author. Ive loved every step of this hard journey and have come to
understand myself better through the editing and publishing principles I have learned and
practice. I have more to learn, of course, but my education and experience has prepared me to
work well in the editing world.
When I took my first copy editing class, looking at Chicago made me apprehensive. I
was supposed to read and study that huge thing! Many of our editing assignments involved
justifying all our copy edits with rules from Chicago, something I considered quite grueling. But
somewhere along the line, I came to enjoy searching Chicago, a love that confuses my noneditor friends to no end. Through the class and through Chicago, I learned copy-editing rules,
and I developed a discerning eye. Errors started to jump out at me, and applying the Chicago
guidelines became second nature. My book is now well-worn, and I know where to look in
Chicago when I come across copy-editing issues Im not sure about. Through my class, I also
realized that Chicago doesn't cover all editing issues, and sometimes, a paper has to depart from
Chicago rules; in these instances, it becomes crucial to create a style sheet or style guide to keep
track of copy editing decisions. I applied the skill of making style guides that I gained in that
copy editing class to all my editing classes. The training I received made me love copy editing,
and even now, its my favorite type of editing.

My next editing class was on substantive editing, a type of editing I wasnt sure I could
do. When the class started, I kept recalling the times I wrote papers in high school and submitted
them to those online grading sitesI was always marked down for organization. In high school,
wed gone over principles like thesis statements, topic paragraphs and topic sentences, and
concluding paragraphs and concluding sentences, but knowing those principles had never
improved my organization score. Those same principles were discussed in my substantive
editing class, and I despaired of improving my skills. But then we went deeper. We talked about
cohesion, coherence, and concision. I learned the principle of old-new, where you first mention
old information in a sentence (or paragraph) before presenting new information; that is cohesion.
I learned to make sure each sentence referred back to the topic sentence and each paragraph
referred back to the topic paragraph; that is coherence. I learned how to cut out redundant
phrases, boring clichs, and impertinent information; that is concision. To tie it all together, my
teacher required us to create outlines before proceeding to substantive edit. I had always found
outlines to be unhelpful, but they became immeasurably useful to me as I discovered how to use
them to improve cohesion, coherence, and concision. Utilizing theses new principles to improve
organization became easy as I applied them to paper after paper. I left that class feeling confident
in my organization skills.
The last class I took in my editing program involved developmental editing and book
publishing. The class was divided into groups and given a book to developmental edit,
substantive edit, copy edit, and design and typeset. By then, I felt comfortable with substantive
and copy editing, but the idea of developmental editing an entire book was overwhelming.
Fortunately, I discovered through the reading and through class discussion that the same
principles I learned in my substantive editing class applied to developmental editing, but on a

bigger scale. After editing two sample papers, my group and I tackled the book. Of course, the
first thing we did was to create an outline of the book. Then we identified the main idea, the
thesis, and the audience, an especially helpful process since the book we were given seemed to
have two different audiences and several different theses and main ideas. We identified what the
author focused on most and were able to develop a proposal for developmental editing the book,
which we presented to the class. My experience with developmental editing in that class made
me realize how fun that type of editing can be.
In that last editing class, we took our books through the entire publication processfrom
a raw manuscript to a printed book. First in the publishing process is acquisition, where an editor
either solicits manuscripts or evaluates manuscripts that authors submit unsolicited.
Developmental editing occurs at this stage, and agent, author, and editor work together to shape
the manuscript, as well as to complete more mundane necessities, like contracts. In my class, we
chose the book we wanted and, based off our preferences, were divided into groups to start the
developmental editing process. Next comes planning. We created a project schedule with
projected completion dates and made assignments for editing and designing tasks. Next, we
started substantive and copy editing our assigned chapters, although we also reviewed each
others chapters to ensure the voice throughout the book was consistent. After editing comes
design. We submitted to our teacher our cover design and an eight-page spread that included the
title page, the table of contents, the opening page for the preface, a two-page spread from the
preface, the opening page of a chapter, and a two-spread from the chapter. After obtaining
approval for the design and making necessary changes, we went into the production stage, where
we laid out the text according to our and copyfitted and proofed the layout. At this stage, we also
put together an index of words wed gathered during the copy editing stage. The next step in the

publication process is printing, a task we werent required to do because of the high costs. But
we did discuss printing costs and how to calculate a books price based off of expenditures and
revenue. The final stage is postproduction, and the main task we completed in this stage was to
finish our record keeping and evaluate our performance in relation to our project schedule. I
learned ?????????? The publishing process is more complicated than I thought it was! I knew it
involved editing, typesetting, and printing, but the amount of planning that goes into one
manuscript is tremendous. With the training and experience I gained in that editing class, I feel
prepared to participate in the publishing process at a publishing house.
My last editing class wasnt the only class where I had to design and typeset a book. I
also took a print design class, where we learned how to used Illustrator, Photoshop, and
InDesign. Our biggest focus was on InDesign, and that class was my first exposure to the
program and to graphic design. Doing design had never crossed my mind, even though Ive
always been interested in artin fact, my major was originally illustration before I switched to
English language. Others had even suggested that I should try graphic design, and I had laughed
at them and told them design was definitely not for mebut my print design class showed me
how wrong I was. We explored color, type, and design principles like alignment, proximity, and
contrast. We designed logos, fliers, and covers, and we typeset our own books. I found that I
actually enjoyed manipulating colors and font to create something attention-grabbing and
beautifulthough I had once scorned design in favor of drawing and painting. Now, I regularly
use InDesign to create invitations and programs, to design covers, and to typeset books for
authors. The satisfaction and enjoyment I get when I typeset a book beautifully has not
diminished. My editing program gave me the exposure and the basic skills I needed to develop
this passion for typesetting. Without my program, I wouldnt know how much I love design.

In addition to exposing me to tools like InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, my editing

curriculum has taught me about other technology and how to use them in regards to editing. In
one of my editing classes, we discussed how Microsoft Word can simplify editing tasks through
macros, styles, and search-and-replace terms and wildcards. I use the Microsoft Word skills I
develped in that class to make editing faster and easier. In another class, we learned how to use
HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create a website (I made a website about the steps in independent
publishing). With the HTML skills I acquired from this class, I created an e-book of an editing
help guide Id written and put it on Amazon. I never thought Id have the aptitude for writing
code, but learning HTML came easily to me, along with learning any technology Ive been
introduced to. I know there are more technological tools out there that I have to learn, but
learning them will come quickly.
Throughout my editing curriculum, my teachers have required the students to work in
groups. I admit that to begin with, I hated working in groups. Ive always been an independent
person; I like to get work done on timeor earlyand I like the work to be done the way I want
it done: perfectly. My early group projects were frustrating, in large part because of my attitude,
although I didnt understand that then. I took on a large workload and never trusted my group
members to get their work done on time or to do it well, which meant I often checked their work.
Ive learned better. In my editing program, Im surrounded by talented people. Ive learned to
trust them and to rely on them during group projects. Ive discovered that gently reminding
group members of deadlines helps them to get the work done on timenot once have my group
members been late in finishing something. Ive come to love discussing editing questions with
group members and hearing their feedback. I value their opinions. Now, I enjoy group work;

having others working with me on a projecthaving others I can turn tobrings me peace of
Another focus in my editing curriculum is how to communicate with an author. The
amount of training I received in this subject surprised me when I first started the editing
program. But Ive come to understand how important good communication is; all my editing
skills are useless if I cant communicate well with others. Good communication includes obvious
factors, like being polite, not insulting the other person, and being willing to listen to the others
point of view. But I learned other techniques that I wouldnt have known without the editing
curriculum. An example is how to word queries to the author. I learned to avoid saying you in
a query because it sounds accusative and to instead use we; I practiced wording suggestions by
pointing out how the reader will react to the text, knowing that the author will be more likely to
change something if he or she is reminded of their first prioritythe reader; and I began utilizing
polite, non-confrontational language like perhaps, we could try, and consider this. Another
technique I learned was when to gently explain a change to the author instead of just
implementing it, or when to only suggest a change instead of actually making it. In some
instances, changes require a simple query of Ok? Finally, I learned to be flexible on issues of
style. An author may want something a certain way, and its my job to find out why and then to
either convince them otherwise or to compromise, depending on the situation. Because of the
information and the practice I gained through my editing classes, I feel confident when
communicating with authors, whether through emails or queriesor even over the phone or
I feel my editing curriculum has prepared me for the world of publishing, and it has been
furthered enhanced by my editing and typesetting experience outside of school. I still have things

I want to learn, though, and I intend to never stop learning. Of course, I will continue to study
and learn from Chicago, and I intend to keep current on technology. In addition, I would like to
learn more about the publishing process, a process that I feel was too complex to completely
cover in my editing curriculum. In particular, I want to learn more about the printing stage of the
publishing process because though we talked about printing in my editing classes, we werent
able to actually print books. Another aspect of editing I need more experience in is permissions. I
understand the basics of copyright law, but copyright is complicated and I dont have a firm
grasp of it. I also want to practice editing under others who have years of experience because I
know theres a lot I can learn from them. Most of all, I want more experience in editing! I can
never get enough experienceevery book I edit teaches me something.
Im finishing my degree with the confidence to contribute to editing and publishing and
the desire and aptitude to learn more. Ive learned not only how to edit at different levels, but
also how to accomplish the entire publishing process, how to use current technology to help with
editing tasks, and how to work well with other editors and with authors. With my training, I am
an asset to publishing companies, and I intend to reach my full potential by working hard and
constantly learning.