We’re a team of experienced writers. Why do we need an editor on the team? In December 2021, George Hayhoe, Li-At Rathbun, Kelly Schrank, Edna Smith and I met in The Green Room 42 with Liz Fraley and Janice Summers. We considered several angles of that question.
- What common traits do editors share?
- What does the editor do for the writing team?
- When do you involve the editor?
In short, how editors enhance and elevate content?
What common traits do editors share?
Editors view the big picture, while simultaneously pay attention to detail—30,000-foot view and be in the weeds. An editor will ask a writer, “Where are you going with this piece? What do you really want to accomplish?” And keep the writer’s response in mind while reviewing the minutiae of the format—bullet levels, numbering, or conformance to style guides.
Writers often feel they own their work and may not always accept an editor’s comments. Editors must be diplomats, a skill particularly important when we edit an experienced writer’s work.
What does the editor do for the writing team?
Writers focus on creating the content. They get used to the groove and the point they’ve been tasked to make. They cannot act as an independent reviewer of their own work. Editors provide a separate pair of eyes on the content.
Editors and writers are on the same team. An editor’s role is to match the writer’s piece to the writing standards of the company, so that there is a universal voice. The editor’s goal is to help writers meet whatever the requirements are for the document, to help craft the content into something better and more nuanced.
When do you involve the editor?
Teams should involve the technical communication professionals and editors at the beginning of the project. This way, editors hear all the initial conversations. They know what the message is supposed to be at the end.
As they edit content throughout the project, editors compare the information to the meeting notes, point out problems/inconsistencies, or risks to the project timeline.
A parting thought:
A seasoned editor does more than edit.
“If you care about accuracy, consistency, and clarity, and if you want a stronger writing team, then you must have an editor on your team.”
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Want to learn more about the editor’s role?