Every good process has checks built into it. Without checks in place, we have no control on the quality of the output. In writing, the editor plays the role of the check to ensure that what is written is correct and adheres to the accepted standards.
I must confess that in the older days, when I was younger and much more confident in my abilities, I would look at an editor as an unnecessary problem to face. However, about ten years ago, I had a boss who never sent out anything he had written without first running it by an editor. Once I realized that he always used an editor, I began to take notice of the quality of his memos and indeed, they were very good.
A good editor is someone who not only finds mistakes in the document, but also adds value by suggesting improvements in the style and substance of the content. As a writer, your nose is too close to the document and you may miss the whole picture because you are concentrating on the details. An editor has the advantage of reading the document with a fresh pair of eyes. This fresh perspective helps improve your document and make it more readable.
An editor’s task consists of two primary goals:
- Make the document error free – both grammatically and semantically.
- Make the document reader friendly.
The editor has a few tools that help achieve these aims:
- The dictionary
- The thesaurus
- The style guide
In today’s world, a large part of the editor’s role is taken up by with word processors. These wonderful bits of software have come a long way and today, by judicious use of these tools, it is not very difficult to create reasonably good documents. Using these tools, you can ensure that your emails are grammatically correct and have no spelling mistakes. Just these two parameters go a long way in projecting you as someone who is meticulous and correct. That said, remember that these tools are just a guidance. Language is constantly evolving and what was wrong yesterday maybe correct today, and vice versa.
However, if you are writing for a very large audience or a large piece of work, it is always a good idea to run it by an editor.
I would like to end with a big THANK YOU to all the wonderful editors I have worked with over the years. Without their meticulous work and, at times, stubborn quest for perfection, much of what I wrote would not have ended up half as good.