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Professional Editorial Standards:Preface to the 2009 Edition

What do editors do? That's a question most members of the Editors' Association of Canada (EAC) have been asked at one time or another, and it's the question addressed by this new edition of Professional Editorial Standards, revised and updated to reflect the skills and knowledge required by editors today.

Professional Editorial Standards is a pivotal document for EAC and for the editing profession. It sets out what editors should do when performing various stages of editing. It tells employers what to expect from the editors they hire. It shows new editors the range of skills and knowledge they should aspire to. It helps EAC, post-secondary institutions, and other training providers to design material, seminars, and courses on editing. And it's the foundation on which EAC's professional certification of editors is built.

Because Professional Editorial Standards aims to reflect what real editors do in the real world, it needs to be reviewed and updated periodically. The revision that led to this new edition was a major undertaking, spanning nearly three years and involving research, drafting, and review. EAC's Professional Standards Committee studied key EAC documents and other standards, consulted the EAC certification program, interviewed teachers and employers of editors, and surveyed members and non-members to gather their views. By spring 2009 the process was complete, and EAC members ratified the revised standards in May of that year.

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One might expect that inviting hundreds of editors to review and comment on a document as precise and self-defining as Professional Editorial Standards would produce an outpouring of detailed suggestions. It did. Fortunately, certain suggestions were echoed repeatedly, and these led to the main changes to the document.

The biggest changes affect how the standards are grouped. The former “Elementary Knowledge of the Publishing Process” section has been expanded, rewritten, renamed “The Fundamentals of Editing,” and moved to the beginning of the document. The former “Structural and Stylistic Editing” section has been split into two sets of standards. Also new is the brief definition that precedes each stage of editing described.

This edition of Professional Editorial Standards has also attempted to clarify wording, update examples, reduce overlap between standards, and reflect current technologies. Throughout, it aims to be “genre-neutral”—that is, to describe editors' skills and knowledge regardless of the type of material they work on.

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Of the hundreds of editors who contributed to this revision, some deserve special mention. The members of the Professional Standards Committee organized and guided the project from beginning to end: Nancy Flight, Laurel Hyatt (joined in late 2007), Jennifer Latham (stepped down in late 2007), Lynne Massey, Naomi Pauls, Frances Peck (committee chair), and Cy Strom.

The committee members were joined during the drafting phase by five senior editors, without whom this project could not have succeeded: Michelle Boulton, Kathy Garnsworthy, Perry Millar, Jan Walter, and Ruth Wilson.

Other EAC members whose advice and help were invaluable along the way were Lee d'Anjou, Lynda Chiotti, Barbara Czarnecki, Louis Majeau, Jonathan Paterson, and Jim Taylor. The many individuals from the certification program and the national executive council who were involved are too numerous to mention individually but too integral to this project to overlook.

The committee invited a group of senior editors from outside EAC to review a revised draft of the standards. Sincere thanks go to the generous and talented individuals who responded: Dennis Bockus, Lorie Boucher, Laura Boutin, Phyllis Bruce, Joy Gugeler, Nancy Huggett, Holly Keller, Lisa Manfield, Judy Phillips, Mary Schendlinger, Saeko Usukawa, and Jean Wilson.

Finally, the staff at the EAC national office did their usual indispensable job of making challenging volunteer work proceed as smoothly as possible. Thanks to each of them, especially Michelle Ou.

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These standards were developed by the Professional Standards Committee of the Editors' Association of Canada, were adopted by the membership on May 6, 2009, and took effect on January 1, 2010. They will continue to be reviewed regularly. Comments and suggestions should be addressed to

Professional Standards Committee
Editors' Association of Canada
505 – 27 Carlton Street
Toronto ON M5B 1L2