The value of editing and return on investment

Editing is not often thought of in financial or investment terms, but editing does add value and can have a high return on investment, known as ROI.

Consider these examples where editing has direct measurable monetary value:

  • editing a job application including cover letter, resume and selection criteria
  • editing an application for an award, with or without a monetary prize
  • editing an application for a grant, tender or expression of interest.

I recently edited a successful application for an award where the monetary value of the cash award was 10 times the cost of the editing. Yes, the raw material was high quality, but editing helps package the material effectively. Even awards with no monetary prize can translate into future monetary value if the award increases future job opportunities.

Editing can ensure the available information is presented in the best light, and is communicated clearly and accurately. An editor is a set of fresh eyes to ensure all criteria are met including word length, attachments and any specific requirements.

Think of the return on investment next time you consider editing. Editing is good value.

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Paralysed by perfection and permanence

On a recent project where I was the writer, editor and project manager, I encountered a form of writer’s block and delayed both starting and finalising the project. There was a lot of thinking but it took time to get on the page. This was largely due to the nature of the project – a set of interpretive signs intended to be public, permanent and difficult to change. Of course, I wanted everything to be perfect.

Editors strive to improve text and clearly communicate the right message for the audience. But just as there is not always right and wrong in editing, perfection is not always the right goal. In the end, it was an external funding deadline that prompted progress to completion. The signs are now designed, produced and installed – and I am happy with them.

Be aware of your own possible blocks to writing and editing and think about how to overcome them. Be realistic about what is achievable within a certain time and budget, and given any other priorities.

At the recent workshop I delivered for Editors NSW on the business of being a freelance editor, a thoughtful attendee commented after a packed day of content on business practices that we should “be kind to ourselves”. It was a timely reminder for all about the nature of writing and editing.

Don’t be paralysed by the thought of perfection and permanence:

  • make a start
  • improve it
  • be realistic
  • know when to stop
  • be kind to ourselves.

See my related post on Is there right and wrong in editing?

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The business of being a freelance editor – 7 July 2017

I’m sharing my knowledge and experience of starting and running an editing business in a one day workshop for Editors NSW on Friday 7 July 2017 in Sydney.

I’m encouraging editors who want to be small business owners to be professional and value their time and expertise. Professional and business development is essential and benefits both editors and their clients. When you need an editor, look for a professional editor who takes their work seriously.

I’m an Accredited Editor and a professional member of the Institute of Professional Editors, through the Editors NSW branch.

For more details on the workshop and to book, go to Events at IPEd.

For editing and writing inquiries, contact me at



Use your table of contents to check consistency of headings

Editors make many choices about style to meet the needs of the audience and the message. While there is not always right and wrong in editing, it is important to be consistent within a document.

A good tool to check consistency of headings throughout a document is the table of contents, which is often generated automatically from the headings used within the document.

Scan through the table of contents and check capitalisation of headings, use of colons or long dashes, use of acronyms, and consistent style, format and level of detail. Check that numbering of headings, whether done manually or automatically, is also consistent.

Check table and figure titles and appendix titles too. Are units of measurement, acronyms, dates or sources used in some titles but not others?

If you spot an inconsistency, change the heading in the body of the document, then re-generate or update the table of contents and check again.

Developing a style sheet is another tool for consistency. Editors use style guides and sheets to ensure consistency in style issues such as spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation, dates and numbers in their editing decisions.

Consistency is part of making it easy for the reader by avoiding distractions.

See my related blogs on:

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Australian Manual of Scientific Style

A helpful new resource for writers and editors is the Australian Manual of Scientific Style, known as AMOSS. It is an online only resource for the science writing and editing community released by Biotext.

AMOSS brings together scientific conventions for a wide range of disciplines and aspects of communication. It has been researched, written and tested specifically for an Australian audience of anyone writing, editing or publishing scientific and technical information.

It has four main sections: Writing, Editing, Showing and Resources. Writing covers clear language, types of scientific publications and accessibility. Editing covers the basics, spelling and usage, punctuation, scientific terms, discipline-specific issues and references. Showing covers tables, figures, images, infographics and other visual information. Resources has international standards and resources, and Australian conventions and resources.

Throughout AMOSS, there are lots of examples, and tips such as ‘Did you know?’, ‘Caution’, ‘Reminder’ and ‘How to’. It also has a search function, bookmarks and downloadable, printable quick guides.

AMOSS is available at by annual subscription which is $60 for an individual. There is a discount price of $50 for IPEd members who need to login to the members’ section of the IPEd website for the code. Organisation subscriptions are also available. For more information, email

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“Make it easy for the reader” mantra

Here’s a special post to follow up on my recent academic writing workshop.

Remember the mantra of “make it easy for the reader”. Whenever you have to make a decision or choice in your writing, think about what choice will make it easy for your reader, from the big picture of the structure to the detail of word choice.

For PhD students, think of the reader for your thesis as your examiners. While you are doing your research and writing your thesis, your supervisors represent your examiners. Your readers may have many other demands on their time and, while they are experts, they are less familiar with the whole thesis document than you. Make it easy for them to understand what you have done and your original contribution.

Check these other posts that cover issues we discussed in the workshop:

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Editing and International Women’s Day – are they related?

Yes, editing and International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017 are related. Here’s how.

Editing can support the objectives of International Women’s Day to recognise women and their achievements and support equality. Subtle choices in writing and language can have powerful effects on readers. International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect on how language is used.

Editing can help ensure the use of inclusive and gender-neutral language in writing to respect both women and men, reach a wide audience and not offend part of the audience by ignoring them. As experts in language, editors can ensure language is bias-free and respectful. Look at my previous post on being inclusive with gender-neutral language.

A very high proportion of editors are women. There are several complex and interrelated reasons for this including the nature of freelance editing as flexible, home-based work and because women enjoy editing and are excellent at it.

There are many types of editing and many types of editors with diverse experience and skills. Look for one that is right for you and your job – it’s likely to be a woman!

On a similar theme on the behind-the-scenes-but-very-valuable work of women, this time in mathematics, see the movie Hidden Figures or read the book of the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly to celebrate International Women’s Day.

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