5 Tips for Starting a Career in Editing with No Experience

5 Tips for Starting a Career in Editing with No Experience

If you’re thinking of starting a career in editing, don’t let lack of experience put you off. All you need to launch your new career is an interest in the English language and a desire to learn.

With that in mind, we’ve got 5 tips to help get you on track to becoming an editor:

  1. Find out what being an editor involves.
  2. Get used to working with editing tools.
  3. Study the more common style guides.
  4. Offer your services for free to build experience.
  5. Expand your knowledge and skills with our Becoming An Editor course.

Keep reading to find out how exactly you can aim for a career in editing, even if you’ve never done editing work before.

1. Research What an Editor Does

The first step to starting an editing career is making sure you understand what an editor actually does.

Generally speaking, an editor will:

  • Correct mechanical errors such as spelling mistakes, misused punctuation, and incorrect grammar.
  • Adjust wording and structure for clarity.
  • Maintain consistency in terms of style, tone, and word choice.

However, the exact work you can expect to do as an editor will depend on the type of editing you offer.

This means you’ll need to know the difference between the different types of editing. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Developmental editing involves refining the plot or structure of a manuscript and takes place early on in the process.
  • Comprehensive editing involves making substantive edits to a more polished draft of a document.
  • Line editing is the process of editing a document at a line-by-line level. This can include fixing errors, improving flow, and clarifying meaning.
  • Copy editing involves looking out for and fixing mechanical errors and making sure a document is consistent.
  • Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process and involves fixing any errors that have been missed or introduced by other editors.

The subject or area you choose to specialize in will also affect the type of work you will be doing.

If you’re interested in a certain type of editing, such as academic editing or editing genre fiction, you should research any additional skills and knowledge that may be required.

2. Learn How to Use Common Editing Tools

Most editing nowadays is done digitally.

The most common programs used by editors are Microsoft Word and Google Docs, which each come with their own editing tools.

In Word, these tools include:

  • Track Changes, which allows you and others to see the edits you have made to a document.
  • Compare, which presents two versions of a document side by side and highlights any differences.
  • Comment, which allows you to leave a comment suggesting an edit when editing the document directly would be inappropriate.

Google Docs’ tools, on the other hand, include:

  • A compare tool, which works similarly to the one in Word.
  • Suggesting mode, which enables you to suggest changes to a document without actually making those changes. Your client can then review, accept, or reject those suggestions.
  • Editing mode, which allows you to edit the document directly.

Though there are other tools used by editors, these are by far the most common. Getting the hang of them now will give you a head start when it comes to actually editing.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Most Common Style Guides

Style guides are sets of rules or guidelines for writers to follow.

Depending on the type of editing you’re doing and the document you’re working on, your client may follow a particular style guide. This means any edits you make should also be in line with that guide.

The style guides you will probably encounter most often are:

Of course, you don’t need to memorize every rule in every style guide. But being familiar with the most common ones and the basic conventions they set out will help you stand out as an entry-level editor.

It is also worth getting to know the differences between certain English dialects, especially British and American English, as you may be expected to edit documents in both dialects.

4. Gain Experience by Volunteering Your Services

While you don’t need to have worked in an editorial position before to find work as an editor, being able to demonstrate some level of previous editing experience will help bolster your resume and your confidence.

The easiest way to do this is by volunteering your services for free to friends and family. Even if you don’t know anyone who writes for a living, you’re sure to have acquaintances who would appreciate a second set of eyes on their job application, website homepage, or letter to the local council.

You might also be able to find some editing opportunities at your current job by reaching out to your boss or other coworkers and offering to take on editing tasks.

You could even get in contact with charities or other organizations and offer to do some editing work for them.

Whatever experience you gain this way, make sure to keep track of the types of projects you’ve worked on and the skills you’ve demonstrated.

These details, along with any feedback you might receive from your voluntary work, could help you find future opportunities and clients.

5. Take an Editing Course

While you don’t need any specific qualifications to work as an editor, taking an editing course can help:

  • Develop your knowledge of the English language.
  • Build relevant skills such as focus and attention to detail.
  • Provide proof of your abilities in the form of a certificate or assessment.
  • Identify the type of editing or niche you’re most interested in.
  • Make your resume stand out.

Our Becoming An Editor course, in particular, is a great option for anyone looking to start their editing career.

With comprehensive modules on the basics of editing and how to edit academic, creative, and business writing, we can take you from novice to expert on all things editing.

A strong foundation of grammar and punctuation is also crucial, so our Becoming A Proofreader course offers comprehensive training, whether you’re just starting out or refreshing your current skills. And if you pass both Becoming A Proofreader and Becoming An Editor with a distinction score of at least 80%, you’re guaranteed work with our partner company, Proofed. Sign up for your free lessons today, and kick-start your editing career.

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