What function does good design serve? It makes the content visually compelling and works in harmony with the message. You can have wonderful content, but if design is inadequate, it can not only be distracting, it can be downright annoying!
Please visit the Portfolio segment on my website to see three new books I’ve edited that are now printed. I am honoured to have been the managing editor as well as editor of these high profile books for one of the most well-known corporate book companies, Focus Publishing.
Now, I’m really pushing the envelope and risking the ire of some designers. Recently I was looking at a magazine that, admittedly, wasn’t published by professional people, but by a not-for-profit organisation. The content was great, but marred by the use of too many fonts. Simplicity is the key!
The Editor’s Pie
Grammatical knowledge or technique – the ‘hardware’ of editing – represents only part of the whole process.
Editing is not entirely about objective analysis; subjective preferences play a role as well.
For instance, some editor’s loathe certain treatments of words. United States or USA or U.S. or US are just different styles; all are correct, but most editors will have a preference. Of course, a personal preference will be secondary to an existing publishing company’s house style. I have a prejudice against the em dash – I prefer its more dashing cousin: the en dash!
Then there’s the ‘inner ear’, a subtle skill that comes from experience. I think of it as the syntax or cadence that language possesses – it has its own soothing rhythm that an experienced ear is attuned to. A good editor will instinctively ‘know’ that there’s a missing beat and they’ll recommend ways to find it.
Not to be ignored, an editor will always embrace the fact that the book is the author’s ‘baby’. Recommendations need to be gentle in delivery but firm in reasoning.