How do I make myself a marketable editor?
September 19, 2018 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out what resources are worth investing in upfront before I apply for editorial positions, and how much my experience is worth.

Backstory: I'm a new graduate moving into full-time editor-in-chief at a small education publishing company that produces HS resource + test materials (I've worked for them for about six years, part-time). Our house style is sort-of-Chicago but not 100% and my role is pretty broad - substantive editing, copy-editing, formatting, proofreading - so I don't know how transferable it will be to future jobs or if I should be learning something specific (Chicago? APA?). One publisher has told me they were looking for Chicago when I sent in a query; the others did not say I needed familiarity with any style. I've ordered Amy Einsohn's handbook and am considering Gregg's reference (but that's a bit more cash) and Editor's toolbox.

tl;dr are any particular certifications / styles helpful? What books would be good for self-teaching?
posted by ahundredjarsofsky to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
To expand into the world of technical writing/editing (and not necessarily specific to Microsoft, in spite of the name), there's the Microsoft Writing Style Guide (free online) which is a newer and revised version of the old standby, the Microsoft Manual of Style (which, although older, doesn't mean it's not being used as a style guide by some teams). Here's a brief overview/announcement of the new guide.

The concepts in technical style guides will probably come in handy even if you're not specifically in a "tech" job. Even if a company doesn't specifically produce digital or tech products, they may have their own website (internal or public), or may refer to some kind of resource or tool that's software or hardware -- for instance an instruction to download a file or an app.

As a person who has a tech job, I do a lot of writing/editing as part of my work, and while there are other technical writing style guides, I've often referred to Microsoft style out of habit. (It's also nice to be able to point to it for backup in certain cases, such as explaining why the term "click here" for a link is not ideal.) Hopefully some technical writing editors can jump in and give more recommendations/opinions on Microsoft style and other tech style guides (such as Apple and Google).
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:01 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Where are you interested in working? I work for a major national publication. We have our own style guide; while it's useful to have basic familiarity with AP or Chicago, we would never hire someone based on that knowledge and I don't think similar publications would either. I feel like if someone wants you to know a particular style, you can learn it quickly. All that really matters where I work is someone's work samples (and to some extent where they've worked before, and maybe their track record of publishing particularly high-traffic articles).
posted by pinochiette at 7:19 PM on September 20, 2018

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