How to Get Editing Experience

by Terri Williams

Sometimes an editor is the essential link between the author and the reader. As Dr. Seuss once said, “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.” If you possess the gift of editing and you can prevent well-meaning authors from taxing their readers with unnecessary or incorrect words, you can quickly gain the editing experience you need.

Practice on Family and Friends

If you have zero editing experience, most people will be unlikely to hand you an editing project based on your self-promoting declarations. So start with your family and friends. Offer to edit their resumes and research papers. Maybe someone's working on a proposal for work; if so, offer to edit it as well. With the permission of your friends and family members, make an electronic copy of the original documents and the edited documents, so you'll have proof of your editing abilities.

Support Your School

If you’re still a student, offer to write and edit for your student newspaper and website, which the students usually run themselves. Volunteer to help edit the rest of the college’s publications and websites. Although paid workers usually handle these media outlets, they may be overworked and would welcome the opportunity to receive free help. Also find out if you can intern in any of these positions. The good thing about colleges is that they have dozens of departments, which increases the chances that you'll find someone to give you an opportunity. As with your family and friends, ask for permission to make copies of the before-and-after documents.


Also consider volunteering your services at churches and other nonprofit organizations, since this will help you develop a broad range of editing experiences. Many nonprofits have limited resources, which makes them more likely to welcome your help. Consider offering your services to local businesses as well -- especially small businesses with only a handful of employees, since they're also more likely to need writing and editing help. The variety of editing experience will make you more marketable -- especially since you’re continuing to make copies of your work.

Apply for Paying Jobs

Armed with an impressive list of editing projects that demonstrate your range of editing capabilities, you’re now ready to apply for paying jobs. Ask your volunteer clients for permission to list them as references. Also be sure to categorize your editing work experience on your resume. Depending on the number of projects you’ve worked on, you can either group the editing by media, with categories that might include newsletters, websites, and proposals, or you may categorize them by industry: academic, technical, business, and nonprofit. Besides the many editing opportunities you may find online or from networking, don’t forget that editing -- but not writing -- research papers and application essays for students is a high-demand area.


About the Author

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Photo Credits

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