Editorial Services Guide
Definitions of Editorial Services
Publishing embraces such a variety of ever-changing processes, companies, and products that it is little wonder the field suffers from an ambiguous lexicon. What medium editing means to a university press might be what a publisher of home repair books calls editorial proofreading. Similarly, the functions carried out by the managing editor at a magazine or Web site would be the responsibility of the project editor at a book publisher.
One term that causes particular problems is light edit. Many assume that a lightly marked manuscript always reflects light editing. It may be so, but in fact many editorial tasks usually performed as part of a heavy edit leave no trace on the manuscript page: creating a complex style sheet; checking nonspecific cross-references; and, if the job is electronic, formatting text and correcting incomplete conversions. These tasks can cost an editor much time and effort.
The potential for confusing terminology and misapprehension notwithstanding, the crucial necessity is that both client and editor understand the client's instructions in the same way.
With clear communication as the goal, the Bay Area Editors' Forum offers definitions of various editorial functions. Do not consider the definitions comprehensive or definitive. Also, please bear in mind that if the same person performs more than one editing task, the pay should be commensurate.