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Editors' Association of Canada

Professional Editorial Standards:

The editor is an intermediary who must skilfully and tactfully balance the interests of the employer or client, the author, and the audience. The editor is also part of a team that guides a work through its various stages from creation to publication, and must be familiar with, and respectful of, the contributions of others and collaborate effectively with all team members.

Capturing the full array of knowledge, skills, best practices, sequential tasks, and responsibilities required by all editors on all projects in all settings is impossible and is not what this document attempts to do. For one thing, editors work on many different subjects and many types of publications (fiction, websites, magazines, textbooks, and scientific material, to name a few) that require specialized knowledge and skills. For another, some editors perform tasks that extend beyond editing, such as project management, design, indexing, translation comparison, and website maintenance.

Regardless, there are certain core standards that professional editors should meet. The purpose of this document is to list the core standards—the knowledge, skills, and practices most commonly required for editing English-language material—and to provide examples that illustrate how those standards are applied in various types of publications.

The standards in this document cover the generally recognized editorial stages that begin when the material is more or less complete and end when it is ready for publication. The standards are divided into five parts:

A.  The Fundamentals of Editing
B.  Structural Editing
C.  Stylistic Editing
D.  Copy Editing
E.  Proofreading

Part A covers the knowledge and practices required of all professional editors, no matter which of the stages they work on. Parts B through E cover the skills required at each stage. In practice, not all editors work on all of these stages, and not all publications go through them all. Further, some overlap between stages is inevitable. The exact editorial process followed for a given publication will vary, depending on factors such as the quality of the original material, the intended audience and purpose, set practices within the company or organization, production methods and tools, schedule, and budget.

The editor who meets the standards given here is able to do a professional job with a minimum of supervision.