Content needs editors

Content needs editors

Avoid sticky situations

At Highbrook, we believe writing is only half the content story. There’s also editing. A good writer needs a good editor. An editor makes all the difference.

On newspapers and magazines, there are (or were) three sorts of editor. The editor who runs the publication, the commissioning editor and the sub-editor. They are all essential for perfection and a stress-free life. At Highbrook, we have editors. Here’s nine reasons why.

They stop you looking daft

Slovenia has the slogan I Feel Slovenia, apparently a play on I Feel Love. But to the English eye, the phrase takes on a different meaning. Ohh-err. They didn’t have an editor.

They cut the waffle

The fewer words, the better. Any piece can be trimmed by 10 per cent without loss of meaning. Often more. Why say “a period of 10 years” when you can say “10 years”?

They correct your spelling

Spellcheck doesn’t always know. Editors understand the difference between affect and effect, between its and it's, between silicon and silicone. Slovenia. Or Slovakia.

They check your sources

Every figure, every single survey finding, needs to sourced. Editors will check that what is said is correct and in the public domain. Copyright and accuracy matter.

They ensure the story fits the brief and the style guidelines

All clients have different needs and ways of doing things. Editors ensure that what has been requested is delivered, with the bullet points and those pesky quote marks just right.

They make it flow

Saying something correctly isn’t enough. The lilt and lay of language helps us read on. Readers don’t want a lumpy, bumpy ride. They like their words delivered smoothly.

They write clever headlines

“Freddie Starr ate my hamster” was not conceived by an account director. SEO requires headlines to work harder, but playfulness and mischief are still powerful incentives to read on.

They know when it's safe to split an infinitive

Editors are by no means rule-bound pedants. They know when grammatical dictums can be broken for the greater good of taste and readability.

They know about libel and copyright

There are pitfalls for the inexpert. A seemingly innocent remark may be libellous. Copyright infringement can cost a great deal of money and time. Then there are breaches of professional codes.

Editors know this stuff. They’ve spent a lifetime worrying about it and studying it. Best leave it to them. At Highbrook, we do all this as a matter of course. Most content agencies – which do not have journalistic backgrounds nor editors – don’t bother. We have two national newspaper editors check through articles before clients see them. It is, we think, the only way to do it. After all, if you've decided you're a publisher, you'll need an editor.

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