You don’t have to have an English degree to be an editor. Just as you might ask a friend or coworker to give you feedback on a piece of writing, they might ask you to do the same. When they do, remember to use good editing etiquette. Follow these guidelines for the best results:
Ask for Guidance
Find out if there are any particular areas of concern. Naturally, you should comment on anything noteworthy. But, you can be more specific (and more helpful) if you have something definite to focus on.
You’re not helping if you avoid mentioning problems. Of course, be nice! But, it’s safe to assume that if they didn’t want to know what could be improved, they wouldn’t have asked for your input.
Rather than just saying, “This section is awkward,” try to identify specific words or phrases that you are stuck on, and suggest alternative phrasing.
A Spoonful of Sugar…
Mention the positives first, and then go into items that need improvement. For example: “You really show your knowledge here, but the level of detail might be too much for your target audience.”
Give an Overview
When offering your feedback, start with the big picture (how well the document works as a whole), then go into details. Your high-level feedback will provide a context for the specific suggestions to follow.
Have you been called upon to edit others’ writing? How did it go? Please share in the comments.
About the Author: Karen Marcus, M.A. is a Northern Colorado copywriter and grant writer who has been helping clients in a wide range of industries to put their best word forward for 13 years.
Need another editing eye? Karen can help! Click here for contact info.