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Stylistic Editing

Seminar Description

Whether you edit novels, reports, websites or magazines, stylistic editing is a key skill. Editors Canada’s professional editorial standards define stylistic editing as “editing to clarify meaning, improve flow, and smooth language.” It is the domain of those editors who want to communicate: to get the message from the author to the reader accurately, honestly, and even elegantly. It also relies on developing that rare commodity, editorial judgment.

This seminar is based on the Editors Canada standards for this skill, but it will also look at how stylistic editing is done in a variety of publishing settings. Expectations for stylistic editing can vary widely. How can editors adapt to the needs of their employers and clients?

We will cover

The context for stylistic editing
  • Who are the readers, and how does that determine the approach to stylistic editing?
  • What is the medium, and how does that affect the approach?
  • Who is the author, and how will the stylistic editor communicate and negotiate with the author?
Judgment in approaching editing decisions
  • Paragraph-level decisions (length, structure, logical flow, connection with other paragraphs)
  • Sentence-level decisions (length, sentence construction, logical flow, connectors , as well as common problems such as passive voice, noun strings, etc.)
  • Word-level decisions (word choice geared to readers, omission of unnecessary words)
The toolkit
  • Subordination and coordination
  • Affirmative constructions
  • Judicious use of passive voice
  • Disentangling noun strings
  • Resolving ambiguity
  • Strengthening verbs and correcting nominalizations
  • Gentle rewriting
  • Working with visuals (illustrations, photos, tables, graphs)
Communicating with authors
  • When and who to query
  • Using comments to query
  • Whether and when to use Track Changes
  • Amount and level of editing
  • When to honour the author's voice

The approach to this seminar will involve lively discussions, tales from the trenches, and hands-on exercises. Join us for an enriching and informative day devoted to our craft.