I use the Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition and the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition for style issues and spelling.
Time permitted, I like to make three passes through a manuscript. The first pass is to get a sense of the author’s voice and to create a style sheet. The style sheet includes character names (if needed) and their spelling, along with the spelling of places, abbreviations/acronyms, numbers/dates, symbols, punctuation, and any permissions/credits that might be needed. This all helps to create a uniform look to the manuscript.
The second pass is for what I like to call editorial triage, which includes –
- Correct spelling errors
- Serious grammatical errors (faulty subject-verb agreement)
- Punctuation errors
- Ambiguous or confusing phrasing
- Defining all abbreviations and acronyms
- Story-based inconsistencies
- Text-based inconsistencies (such as capitalization and hyphenation)
- Word choice, sentence structure, and sentence order
- Basic issues of point of view
- Check the numbering of footnotes, tables, and figures (if needed)
- Basic fact-checking (such as brand name spelling, dates, etc.)
The third and final pass is to read through the entire manuscript again, looking for any mistakes that I missed on the second pass, and to make sure I didn’t introduce any errors while making corrections.
When the editing process is complete, you will get your edited manuscript, presented in three formats:
- Complete edit: Contains tracked changes and comments (labeled WES Edit)
- Commentary edit: All changes have been implemented, leaving only the comment boxes for easier reference (labeled WES Edit—Comments)
- Clean edit: This is your fully edited manuscript with all changes implemented and comment boxes deleted allowing for clean reading (labeled WES Edit—Clean)
After you receive your edited manuscript, you may have questions or additional changes you’d like to make. No problem! However, please compile everything into one Word document or email and send it to me within thirty days of receiving your edited manuscript. Any other changes or correspondence received after thirty days will be treated as a new project.
I create a style sheet with a list of words and phrases changed for spelling, hyphenation, etc.; major style issues; and queries.