METM16 presentation 

"This text only requires a 'light' edit." Lifting the veil on the meanings of heavy, medium and light edits   

John Linnegar, Antwerp, Belgium 

Many publishers use the terms “light”, “medium” or “heavy” to let editors know how to focus and prioritise their efforts. However, for many practitioners, the differences between the three “levels” of editing are veiled in mystery, a bit of a grey area. This is often because the boundaries between them are blurred. Only recently have author-practitioners such as Mossop (2010), Davies & Balkwill (2011), Einsohn (2005, 2010) and Saller (2009) started staking them out for us (Van de Poel, Carstens & Linnegar 2012).

Supported by a variety of texts, I will illustrate the interpretations these authors place on the levels of editing. For them, it’s “the language editing and the content editing components (and a little structural editing) of the text editor’s brief where the different levels actually apply” (Davies & Balkwill 2011; Einsohn 2005). Their view is supported by Saller (2009), who urges editors to ask three helpful questions about the state of a manuscript: Is it wrong? Is it confusing? Is it ugly?
In this presentation, we shall explore – and demystify – these labels further. Doing so should empower editors who are confronted, for instance, with having to perform “heavy” edits on documents briefed as needing “only the lightest of interventions”. After this, attendees will know which criteria to apply when responding to their clients about the actual level of intervention required. This is important, since time and money issues are also involved.
This session will typically appeal to practitioners who seek an opportunity to test their understanding of the three levels of editing and who possibly have never been exposed to the helpful criteria that author-practitioners have developed.
The objective and content of this session will certainly support MET’s broad interest in helping language professionals improve the quality of their services and their ability to respond to clients’ diverse needs.

John Linnegar: Text editor, writer, indexer for 35+ years; developer of House Style guides for clients. Trainer of editors since 1999: Basic & Advanced Copy Editing and Proofreading; English Grammar for Editors; Book Design and Production Fundamentals; Editing Law Texts; Editing Maths and Science; Editing for Academic Purposes; Writing/Editing for the Web. Author of several publications on editing- and language-related topics, including Text Editing (UPA, 2012) and guides for the Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG, South Africa): Consistency (House Style); The Business of Editing and Marketing your Freelance Services. Member of several societies of editors, including Canberra/IPEd, MET, PEG (former Chair), SENSE. Special interest: Mentoring editors; current postgraduate research on mentoring editors online.

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