The editor’s eye

Editors read differently from readers and writers. We’re scanning for tone and consistency, for factual accuracy, for fully realized character arcs. But we also read differently from each other.

Some editors are excellent at spotting spelling mistakes and clunky sentences, but read right over “and and” or other repeated words. Or they’re not well versed in older phrases and don’t know it’s “with bated breath,” not “baited.” (Seen it happen.) Or they don’t remember which prefixes are hyphenated and which ones aren’t, and need to perpetually check the dictionary and/or stylebook to be sure. (OK, that one’s me.)

We all have particular misuses and grammatical sins and problems, from big-picture issues to the smallest commas, that we’re best able to spot and fix. And because we all see different things, we can complement each other. This is why having multiple editors on an article or manuscript is the best-case scenario. Every new set of eyes is another chance to make the writing the best it can possibly be, whether that means a developmental editor plus a copy editor, a copy editor plus a proofreader, or multiple copy editors. We tend to work alone, but we do work best as part of a team.


I’m sure you’ve heard about the newsroom shooting in Maryland. I worked in newsrooms for 20 years; journalists are my colleagues. While at work, I used to morbidly wonder what I would do and where I would hide if a shooter burst in, and I’m horrified that this secret fear has become reality for the victims and their families.

Please support local journalists. We need them, more than ever. #buyanewspaper