Monthly Archives: May 2021

Editors – agents of change

In another follow up to my blog on editing as decision making, editors make many decisions, meaning they can be powerful agents of change. Some decisions are about the big picture and some are about the detail, but the aim is to communicate more clearly and meet the needs of writers for the intended readers.

Editors edit a wide range of material for a wide range of clients, showing they can be agents for change in many different areas, but particularly in public communication.

For instance, as agents of change, editors can:

  • Edit health information and risk to communicate better, as in COVID times
  • Improve job and grant applications to help people access new opportunities and funding
  • Design surveys to help collect accurate information for policy and decision making
  • Write clear instructions and advice to help people do the right thing
  • Ensure well-designed government forms so people can apply for benefits and entitlements
  • Apply accurate tags and labels on website material to help users find the right information quickly and easily
  • Provide headings and structure in long documents so information is not overlooked
  • Ensure references are authoritative and have complete information so they can be followed up and checked.

Often clear communication is about simple language and writing. Sometimes being an agent of change is about ensuring inclusive language, recognising and respecting the diversity of communities.

Editing is also more than just the words. The overall presentation of material, including text and non-text elements, can also affect clear communication. A well-presented graphic may be more powerful than text, and editors can also advise on graphical material.

The Australian Standards for Editing Practice from the Institute of Professional Editors provide guidance on the wide range of skills of professional editors.

See my related blogs:

This blog was inspired by the presentation on plain English by Patricia Hoyle for Editors NSW in May 2021.

For advice on editing, please contact me on rhdaniels@bigpond.com