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Professional Editorial Standards: B. Standards for Structural Editing

B. Standards for Structural Editing

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

A professional structural editor demonstrates 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 news story, the chapter arrangement of a book, the linked structure of a website). If necessary, create a new outline or site map and either follow it or recommend it be followed.

B3  If necessary, recommend headings and navigation aids to clarify or highlight organization of material.

B4  Recommend or implement the most effective positioning of auxiliary textual material (e.g., sidebars and pull quotes).

B5  Determine and either indicate or implement the most effective positioning of all visual elements.

B6  Revise, cut, or expand material, or suggest such changes, to meet length requirements.


B7  Identify and either recommend or make appropriate deletions (e.g., to remove repetitive, irrelevant, or otherwise superfluous material) and additions (e.g., to fill gaps in content or strengthen transitions between sections) in both text and visual elements.

B8  Recognize and either query or resolve instances of questionable accuracy, inadequate research, imbalanced content, and lack of focus.

B9  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 or infographic, a long series of points as a list, a lengthy digression as an appendix).

B10  Select, create, or secure appropriate visual elements (e.g., images, video, figures), 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, titles, and alt text.

B11  Identify, create, or secure appropriate supplementary and reference material (e.g., glossaries, endnotes, links).

B12  If required, create or secure accurate and complete supplemental material (e.g., audio and video, pop-ups, mastheads, front and back material). 

B13  Determine whether any permissions are necessary (e.g., for quotations, visual elements, audio). If necessary, obtain these permissions or bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate person.


B14  Communicate clearly and diplomatically with the author or project supervisor to confirm structure, request clarification of content, and propose or negotiate broad editorial changes.