Whether you’re an editor working for a professional publication or need to create a set of editorial standards for your staff, you may not know where to begin when it comes to quality control. In either position, maintaining an elevated set of guidelines for publishing is essential to excellency in digital content production. If you find yourself in this position, you should create a set of editorial standards.
What are editorial standards
Editorial standards are rules and guidelines that organizations set to ensure the content they produce maintains a certain level of quality and aligns with their branding. These standards help writers and editors create content within boundaries that match the tone and style of the organization.
Let’s discuss the importance of editorial standards and suggest guidelines to create a list.
Why Editorial Standards Are Important
Editorial standards are important because they help ensure that the content produced by an organization is consistent in tone and professionalism. This consistency helps to build trust and credibility with the audience and can improve the brand’s image.
The primary goals of digital content creation include educating, advertising, and/or informing an audience. This content can also help you to communicate and connect with readers. Thus, if the tone and professionalism of your articles are not consistent, your audience may doubt the quality of your brand.
Thus, editorial standards can significantly improve your brand’s image and increase your chances of maintaining an audience (or your chances of selling a product or service). If you are an editor, setting standards for yourself and adhering to those that your company enforces can improve your quality of work.
What are the Core Editorial Standards?
Some key components of editorial standards include understanding the tone and audience, cutting out unnecessary or irrelevant information, fact-checking content, checking for correct formatting, and considering the competition.
Understand the Tone and Audience
Understanding your audience and the tone you wish to display in online content is integral to creating high-quality pieces that reflect your brand, so make your intentions clear to your editors. Whether you intend to sell a product or create an informative article about your organization, the tone and audience should be consistent throughout your content.
If you are an editor, review the requirements of your organization. As you edit content, ensure that it adheres to the tone and audience required by your client.
Cut Out Fluff
Cutting out fluff is essential to editorial content. Articles that rely on wordiness, repetitiveness, or irrelevant information can easily lose the interest of your audience.
Fact-checking the content of your writers is crucial to avoid potential conflicts. In severe cases, readers and other organizations can take legal action if you include falsified information in your online content. Furthermore, make sure that your writers have not plagiarized material to protect the reputation of your website.
When fact-checking, look for the following characteristics:
- Hyperlinks: Make sure all hyperlinks work and link to organizations you would consider appropriate to include on your website. For example, if the hyperlink leads to a competitor, exclude it.
- Discount codes: If your content includes a discount code, ensure that the code works before publishing.
- Spellings and capitalization: You must check all names, locations, brands, etc. your writers include for proper spelling. Make sure that all organizations have the correct capitalization as well. For example, LiberalArtsEdu.Org is incorrect, as the proper way to write our name is LiberalArtsEDU.org.
Check For Correct Formatting
There is a broad range of options for formatting online content to evoke emotion. However, to maintain the appearance of your brand, formatting all content in the same manner is fundamental. Make sure that you perform formatting and structural editing practices on all written pieces, so they look the same.
Consider the Competition
If you want your brand to stand out from the crowd, think about the branding of your competitors. Consider whether you want to take a similar approach or change the tone of your online content to differentiate between your brands.
Best Editing Practices
If you are an editor working for a professional publication(s), you should also set certain editorial standards for yourself.
Create an Editing Schedule
Discuss your schedule with every customer that you take on, whether you are an employee for an organization or a freelance editor for multiple clients. Do not take on too much work, and clearly define deadlines with your partners.
Clearly Define Edits and Suggestions
When editing, make sure your markups are clear by tracking your changes to the document. Communicate the level of editing required for the document with your team, whether that includes spot-checking grammar or performing stylistic editing. Keep track of each version of the document that you produce and review new material in each consecutive version.
Check for Structure and Flow
Though your writers may seem very talented when it comes to researching a topic, perhaps they produce articles that sound clumsy. Be sure to edit sentences and paragraphs so they have clear and memorable information. Group information on the same topics and suggest transitions between different sections of your articles.
Use Technology to Help You Edit
Many websites and apps can help with grammar and structural editing, and you can use these resources to your advantage. Try out different online resources to communicate and share documents with your team and utilize online databases, dictionaries, etc. to fact-check content. However, don’t solely rely on technology to edit your content.
Some examples of online resources that you can use include:
- Google Drive
- Adobe InDesign/Pagemaker
Who should be responsible for creating and enforcing editorial standards?
Typically, editors and other content creators are responsible for creating and enforcing editorial standards within an organization. However, it’s important for all members of the organization to understand and adhere to the standards to ensure consistency in the content produced.
Look Out for Ethical Problems
When editing a document, check for information that sounds offensive or non-inclusive. If your writer has included content that sounds racist, sexist, stereotyped, etc., you must remove it. Alternatively, you can discuss with your writer how to change the content so it’s more appropriate.
Creating and adhering to editorial standards is essential to the success of online content creation. Whether you are a brand or an editor, make sure that you create a list of editorial standards that you will maintain while you work on online content.
If you want to learn more about editing jobs or how to get a liberal arts degree in editing, check out LiberalArtsEDU.org. We supply content related to editing and other topics within the field of liberal arts on our blog and throughout our website.