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Professional Editorial Standards: B. Standards for Structural Editing

Structural editing is assessing and shaping material to improve its organization and content.

A professional structural editor requires a mastery of Part A: The Fundamentals of Editing and meets the following standards.


B1 Assess the overall organization and content of the material to determine its suitability for the intended audience, medium, market, and purpose.


B2 Reorganize material to achieve a coherent structure and sequence, a logical progression of ideas, and a narrative or expository flow and shape appropriate to the audience, medium, and purpose, keeping in mind that the medium often determines organization (e.g., the inverted pyramid structure of a newspaper story, the chapter arrangement of a book, the linked structure of a website). If necessary, create and follow a new outline or site map.

B3 Determine and either indicate or implement the most effective positioning of all visual elements.

B4 Revise, cut, or expand material, or suggest such changes, to meet length requirements.


B5 Identify and either recommend or make appropriate deletions (e.g., to remove repetitive or otherwise superfluous material) and additions (e.g., to fill gaps in content or strengthen transitions between sections) in both text and visual elements.

B6 Recognize and either query or resolve instances of questionable accuracy, inadequate research, and imbalance in content.

B7 Recognize and recast material that would be better presented in another form (e.g., number-laden text as a table, descriptive material as a diagram, a long series of points as a list, a lengthy digression as an appendix).

B8 Select, create, or secure appropriate visual elements (e.g., images, sidebars, headings, video clips), if necessary, in keeping with the requirements and constraints of the publication (e.g., budget, schedule, format, medium). Determine the appropriate content and length of captions.

B9 Identify, create, or secure appropriate supplementary and referencing material (e.g., glossaries, endnotes, web menu items, hyperlinks).

B10 If required, create or secure accurate and complete peripheral material (e.g., masthead information in magazines, prelims and back matter in books, navigational and help content for electronic publications).  

B11 Determine whether any permissions are necessary (e.g., for quotations, images, audio excerpts). If necessary, obtain these permissions or bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate person.


B12 Communicate clearly and diplomatically with the author or project supervisor to confirm structure, request clarification of content, and propose or negotiate broad editorial changes.