Editing Australia’s Census – thanks to everyone for the high quality

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census of Population and Housing is a huge undertaking of great significance to Australian public data and decision making. The release of the first data in July 2022 from our most recent 5-yearly Census in August 2021 is significant. There was much media attention including discussion of questions and wording, suggestions for future data collection, and even discussion of appropriate description of the “average” Australian. It is great to see so much interest in such an important source of information.

Apart from diligently filling in my form online last August, I was not involved in the 2021 Census at all. However, I have used Census data in my previous research life and public sector jobs in urban and transport planning, and now as a volunteer for the Institute of Professional Editors’ Pay Rates Working Party. I edit academic and research material for clients which uses Australian Bureau of Statistics data from the Census and other sources including its spatial classifications. From all my experience, I know how important the data is, and even had my letter supporting the Census published in The Sydney Morning Herald when Census funding was under threat.

As an editor striving for high quality communication in research, I send a special thank you to everyone involved in the high quality of the Australian Census, from the forms to all the summary reports and data releases. The Australian Bureau of Statistics sets a high standard for all and shows the value of a high quality approach to data collection, analysis and presentation.

To work with an IPEd accredited editor on research-related material, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Editing money numbers and currencies

Editors can edit material with both words and numbers, and care is required with both for clear communication.

In some disciplines such as finance and accounting, many numbers may be in monetary units and in various currencies. If the material is for an Australian audience in an Australian publication, refers to $ and cites government or public statistics, there is usually no doubt for readers about the currency of the dollars cited – the $ are Australian.

However, in work for international audiences or material published in international journals, using dollar amounts can be confusing if the currency is not clear, such as dollars in Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the United States.

Even when the specific currencies for various numbers are clearly cited, it can also be useful to provide equivalents or convert to a common unit, such as to the euro, the monetary unit and currency of the European Union.

Dollar values can change over time, so when referring to monetary units over a long time period, be aware of whether the numbers have been, or should be, adjusted for inflation. If they have been adjusted, be clear about the method used.

As well as money numbers in the text, tables and figures with monetary units should be clear about the currency, such as Australian dollars, US dollars or euros. Be clear about the scale of the units – whether cents, dollars, ‘000s, millions or billions. Choose the scale that provides the right level of detail to communicate clearly.

To work with an accredited editor on material with numbers, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Being inclusive of people with disability in editing

Following on from my recent blog on cultural safety in editing for culturally diverse perspectives, editing for inclusion is important, and includes people with disability.

I have recently edited material in sensitive areas which required me to be aware of practice in this area.

  • I edited a recent publication from the Mental Health Commission of NSW on women activists and reformers in mental health, released on International Women’s Day in March 2022. The women contributors to the publication had their own ways of referring to their own mental health experiences, and the Mental Health Commission itself also has preferred language.
  • I edited a research report on the participation of people with disability in the workforce. The research team had an advisory group and referred me to a publication by People with Disability Australia that had guided their language and writing here.

The appointment of Dylan Alcott as 2022 Australian of the Year has raised the profile of people with disability, and work will continue to improve understanding and inclusion.

Disability can cover a wide range of experience. People with disability are not one group, and have different preferences in referring to their experience, and there is no single advocacy or advisory group. Practices and preferences in referring to disability, by both individuals and organisations, also change over time, both in the health sector and elsewhere. Editors can advise on changing practices, and best practice for inclusion. In fiction writing, sensitivity editors are increasingly used.

Being inclusive is not just about the words that are used. It’s also about how publications are produced at all steps of the process: the structure, writing, editing, images, layout and dissemination (print and online).

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) supports accessibility in publishing. Inclusive Publishing in Australia: An Introductory Guide, by the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative www.aipi.com.au, was launched at the 2019 IPEd conference.

To work with an accredited editor, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

How to acknowledge your editor

Editing is often behind-the-scenes, ‘invisible’ work that many authors may initially prefer does not happen. This can mean that editors are not always acknowledged publicly for their work.

Even when editors are acknowledged, possibly as part of a team of many people involved on a publication, it is not always clear what the editor has done unless the original material and all the drafts are available. A reader of the final publication has not seen the original material before editing, or the brief from the client to the editor, or the final agreement which may have been affected by both time and budget.

In some academic editing work I am acknowledged, and sometimes not. The IPEd Guidelines for editing research theses here state that ‘Editing assistance should be acknowledged at the appropriate point in the thesis, as indicated by university requirements, if any. Unless the university specifically requires that the editor be named, editors may choose not to be acknowledged by name.’

Universities may have their own guidelines on students acknowledging assistance such as editing. Sometimes I prefer not to be named if I have only edited part of a document, had a limited brief, or am not confident about how suggested changes and comments will be addressed.

I was pleased to be recognised in a recent publication on women in mental health reform from the Mental Health Commission of NSW, released on International Women’s Day in March 2022. Download it here. However, it does not mean that I signed off on every word in the document, or checked the layout before print. There were many decision-makers contributing to the final document, including individual authors.

Here are some tips:

  • If you are a client, ask your editor if and how they would like to be acknowledged. If important, include any wording in the contract or agreement.
  • If you see an editor acknowledged and there are typos or mistakes in a publication, don’t assume it was solely due to the editor. There are many reasons why mistakes may occur, many unrelated to the editor.
  • If you are a happy client, share your satisfaction with your editing experience and editor. Editors know their work is valued and appreciated when they have repeat clients and referrals from happy clients.

See also my blogs on:

the who and how of acknowledgements

is there right and wrong in editing?

To work with an accredited editor, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Cultural safety in editing for culturally diverse perspectives

Recent professional experiences have encouraged me to reflect on cultural safety in editing.

  • I was very pleased to hear an early editing client is part of a recently awarded ARC Discovery project, based on his PhD research on Warratyi Rock Shelter in South Australia. A strength of the original research and the new project was the involvement of the Adnyamathanha people, and cultural exchange of knowledge.
  • I edited a multi-authored piece where Aboriginal authors had different ways of describing their heritage. Usually editors try to ensure consistency, but it was more important to use the authors’ descriptions of themselves.
  • I edited a journal article on folkloric heritage-based livelihoods in another country by an author from that country. In Australia, the term folklore would probably not be used in that context, but it was an accepted term to describe indigenous culture in the country of the paper and author.
  • I watched a Zoom talk for Editors NSW by Dr Mark Lock, a descendant of the Ngiyampaa people, on cultural safety in editing to support culturally diverse perspectives. Mark’s talk was mostly from the health research and academic research perspective. He noted there is no professional body for researchers, which might provide useful guidance on issues such as working with or referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture. Mark also presented at the online IPEd conference in June 2021.
  • I attended the launch of an app on Dharawal Language and Culture by Ray Ingrey from Gujaga Foundation which provides information on the language of the Dharawal people of southern Sydney. I am working my way through the dictionary, and looking out for the upcoming certificate courses.

These recent experiences continue my interest in learning more about Aboriginal culture and how to support culturally diverse perspectives, both personally and professionally, building on the Diploma in Aboriginal Studies I completed in 2008.

Nandawadi (bye/see you later).

To work with an accredited editor, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Less is more – what it means in editing

Many things can be edited to form a coherent whole – words, articles, chapters, clothes, collections or a list. In this case, edit is usually used to mean carefully selected or curated from a larger set, or “cut down”.

When I edit material, whatever it is, I usually reduce the word count without even trying. I achieve this using several different techniques:

  • use the simplest form of a word or phrase
  • delete repetition
  • delete unnecessary linking words or phrases
  • delete distracting detail.

Thinking of the reader means making it shorter. The reader can then focus on the key words and message and not be distracted by too much verbosity. Some forms of writing, such as job applications or forms, may set word or page limits for this reason.

Sometimes I do suggest where new information might be useful. It might be a fact such as a name, date, time or location, or sometimes an explanation. But I rarely add words to an existing sentence to make it longer. I edit the longer “Fifty people were recruited and surveyed in the study to provide useful information” into the simpler “The study surveyed 50 people”, rather than the other way round.

Editors do carefully review every word to make sure it is earning its place and communicating with readers. Editors also review non-text elements such as tables, figures and images to make sure they are also worthwhile.

If you are struggling with writing, think of less is more. Write less, and make every word count.

See my related blogs:

To work with an accredited editor, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Reflecting on 2021 as a self-employed academic editor

The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and a long lockdown in Sydney in the second half of 2021 has been a time of reflection for many on work and work–life balance (and whether working from home helps or not). Editors are used to working efficiently from home offices but there was still a change.

Work life continued in my home office with email inquiries and the occasional more desperate phone call, but without the usual breaks away from the computer. Universities have been affected by COVID and funding reforms, but academics seemed to be even more productive, or have more recognition of the need and value of editing. I edited student theses that were clearly affected by the COVID pandemic in various ways from data collection to challenges to wellbeing. Research continues to be important, and I am pleased to be able to contribute to the dissemination of high quality research.

My ongoing work in voluntary roles on IPEd’s Pay Rates Working Party and Standing Committee on Academic Editing highlighted some important issues in the profession this year. I analysed responses to IPEd’s survey of members which focused on income and working conditions, and wrote a report for members. The survey confirmed the low annual work hours and income of many self-employed editors. I will continue to work to improve the economic status of editors.

As a member of IPEd’s Standing Committee on Academic Editing, it was pleasing to devise and release guidance on indicative costs of academic editing, and a range of other useful resources for academic editors.

We need to raise awareness amongst clients of good practices for an effective relationship and raise awareness amongst professional editors of business practices for a sustainable career.

As part of my professional development, I participated in the online IPEd conference. I renewed my status as an accredited editor, and am a mentor in IPEd’s mentoring program.

2022 brings continued focus on serving my own clients and improving the professional status of editors so we can continue to provide high quality editing for clear communication.

Here’s a recap of my blogs in 2021:

Please contact me for editing inquiries at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

The right scope for editing – the whole thesis or chapter by chapter?

Editors receive many inquiries about the timing and cost of editing. See my previous blog on the right time for editing. For thesis editing, one decision is whether to have the whole thesis edited at once or to have individual chapters edited one at a time.

Whole thesis editing

Whole thesis editing works well when the submission deadline is imminent, the research has been finalised and all the chapters have been assembled into one file. The editor starts at the beginning and edits to ensure consistency and clarity throughout the document. Usually only one round of editing is possible in the timeframe.

Chapter by chapter editing

Chapter by chapter editing works better in the earlier stages when a student may need more guidance on structure and formatting. An editor can provide a style sheet for the student to follow for the rest of the thesis and identify issues for the student to be aware of throughout the other chapters of the thesis. These issues may include document formatting, reference styles or table and figure formats, as well as consistency issues of spelling and references to key concepts. Chapter 1 is usually very short with a standard structure, so is not the most useful for standalone editing. A literature review chapter is a better guide for the rest of the thesis. Chapter editing allows the student to learn and incorporate changes in later chapters.

A thesis in the publication format may also require chapter by chapter editing, as chapters are written individually as articles. Even in this format, the preliminary pages and the overall assembly of chapters into a thesis usually need editing.

Chapter editing is also an option when submission is imminent but limited time or budget is not sufficient to cover whole thesis editing.


Whole thesis editing is usually more time and therefore cost efficient for a given word count because the editor focuses on the whole document, makes decisions and implements them. There is usually repetition of text and therefore of editing changes. Editing a chapter at a time is usually more expensive overall, due to the startup and familiarisation effort each time. IPEd’s indicative costs of academic editing here and discussed in my recent blog reflect this. The 5,000 words at the end of a 100,000 word thesis can be edited faster than the 5,000 words at the beginning. The further apart in time the chapters are edited, the less efficient the process is and more rounds of editing may be required. However, this may provide a better learning experience.

Students must decide based on their own circumstances and discussions with an editor what editing scope is right.

To work with an accredited editor for your academic editing work, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Cutting through spam and scam – Editing to ensure professional communications

My very first blog back in 2013 was on how to recognise a spam or fraudulent email from a bank or telecoms provider in your inbox. Often there are a few little things that are not quite right. The use of the corporate image may be slightly wrong. There may be slightly odd wording or minor errors in the text. It may be slightly inconsistent with previous emails. These are all clues to look more closely at the communication.

The ability to recognise spam, scam or fraudulent emails or texts highlights the importance of editing in professional communication. People don’t notice when it’s right, but they often notice when you get it wrong.

People now receive so many digital communications, both legitimate and not, they often don’t have the time or cognitive energy to consider them thoroughly. There’s even an Australian government website, Scamwatch, which is constantly updated with alerts to new scams.

With increasing cybersecurity concerns, professional communication is vital. Any call to action needs to be clear. Legitimate organisations do not want their communications to be dismissed or ignored by the intended audience.

Does this mean spammers should use professional editors? No, the message is that organisations that need to be taken seriously and influence people to take action have to ensure high quality digital communications.

Editors can help ensure:

  • appropriate headings to get attention
  • appropriate structure of a message and subheadings
  • appropriate images that match the content
  • consistent and appropriate tone
  • consistent use of the corporate image such as the logo, corporate colours or the font for the text
  • clear writing with no errors
  • clear calls to action, recognising privacy and security concerns.

To work with an accredited editor to cut through the spam and scam, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

Dr Rhonda Daniels AE has renewed her Accredited Editor status

In September 2016, I was pleased to announce here that I was now an Accredited Editor with the Institute of Professional Editors.

What is an Accredited Editor?

An Accredited Editor has demonstrated their professional competence and understanding of editing standards, skills and knowledge by passing the Institute of Professional Editors’ three-hour accreditation exam. The exam, administered by IPEd’s Accreditation Board, measures an editor’s competence against the benchmark of the Australian standards for editing practice.

Editors who pass the accreditation exam are certified by the IPEd Accreditation Board and can use the postnominal AE (for ‘accredited editor’).

The accreditation scheme offers Australian editors a mechanism to demonstrate their competence and provides potential employers with confidence in the skills of the editors they use.


Accredited editors must apply for renewal every five years. In August 2021, IPEd advised I had met the requirements to renew my status as an Accredited Editor. I demonstrated:

  • ongoing work as an editor
  • ongoing professional development including participation in IPEd meetings and conferences
  • support of the profession, through my membership of IPEd’s Standing Committee on Academic Editing and Pay Rates Working Party and as a mentor in the mentoring program.

See my previous posts about IPEd conferences in 2017 here, in 2019 here and in 2021 here, fair hourly pay rates for editors here, and indicative costs for academic editing here.

To work with an accredited editor, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com