Editing Tips and Tricks

The following was created by Stephanie Fletcher, Folio literary editor from Spring 2017 to Spring 2019. 

These are some tips I’ve gathered across my time on Folio, and I hope you, dear reader, are able to take these and make them your own. I am a firm believer that every person will have a different process, and that’s okay! We all have the same goal, and that is to provide a voice and platform for the students at Salt Lake Community College. Enjoy!

  1. Try and maintain the writer’s voice! This is the most important part of my process. Critically analyze the text and try to determine if something is a stylistic choice before you start messing with it. This is especially important for poetry. Also, keep in mind that their first language might not be your own. Do your best to think before you fix.
  2. Everyone has a different opinion on how body text should be formatted. There are two major ways to do it; putting a line between each paragraph, or indenting the first line of each paragraph. If you decide to go the indentation route, AVOID THE TAB BUTTON. The size of the indent is dependant on the size of the paragraph. Between a .3 and .5 indent is ideal.
  3. Dialogue can be tricky. Each new speaker needs their own paragraph. If an action is separate from dialogue (e.g. He gasped. “No!”) the action is its own sentence. If the action IS dialogue (e.g. He gasped, “No!”) the action and dialogue are one sentence… Make sense?
  4. Don’t be afraid to research and peek around to see what other editors are doing. The best part about this experience is that you don’t HAVE to be a professional. Learning and growing with the magazine was one of my favorite parts, and I hope it becomes one of your favorite parts too!

Folio Assistant Editorial Process

This was written by former Folio staff member, Oscar Roche, detailing his experience as an editorial assistant in the Fall of 2018. 

The beginning of this process began after Long Friday, once we had finished reviewing and selecting submissions to be featured in Folio. Stephanie provided me with a list of submissions that I was to review and edit. However, during the process of moving these submissions from Submittable to Google Drive, the format of the submissions had been lost. So, that became task number one.

I pulled up the Google Drive folder that contained the submissions to be edited as well as Submittable so I could review the original format of the submissions. With these two applications open side-by-side, I selected the first submission and opened it up in both windows. I compared the two documents with a mental list of qualities to check for. I first looked for any instances of faulty paragraph breaks, of which there were many, due to the file transfer. After reconnecting paragraphs, I then moved on to check the flow of a piece by reading it out loud and paying attention to the punctuation. I made corrections where I saw fit and moved on to other little issues such as improper capitalizations, extra spaces, improper spelling, etc.

By this point, the majority of the work had been done when it comes to editing the submissions. The only other issue left was separating dialogue from normal prose in a few submissions. With the completion of that, I checked in with Stephanie to let her know where I was in the process and to ask what else may need to be done.

With the completion of edits made to the accepted submissions, they moved on to Heather Graham so she could lay them out in what would become the print edition of folio. The transfer from Google Drive to the design software resulted in some of the same issues that arose with the transfer from Submittable to Google Drive. So, I was given access to a PDF of the magazine and was asked to check for paragraph formatting, italics, bolded text, or any other specifics that may not have transferred.

Very similarly to the previous step of my project, I pulled up submissions in the PDF and the original submission in Submittable. I went through a mental checklist, first checking for any instance of italics in the original submission, comparing it to the PDF version and if there was any discrepancy, highlighting and commenting on the section for it to be changed to italics. I did the same for bolded text, extra spaces, improper indentation, improper paragraph breaks, etc.  

By this point in the development of the magazine, the majority of spelling and grammar issues have been checked for and ideally fixed. So, I didn’t thoroughly check for this issue at this point in editing, but I did keep an eye out and found a few minor errors.

After going through the entire document–all 47 pieces–I ran through the document again, checking almost exclusively for italics, bolded text, and paragraph formatting issues.

At this point, the PDF had been more or less completed in part by the work of myself and others on staff reviewing the document. It was ready for Heather to move forward on the printing process.

I was given a further task of helping edit a few submissions that were going to be placed on Folio’s website. This ran almost exactly the same as the prior editing except for one issue that may be of importance to address here.

One of the pieces that I had to review was written by an individual who’s primary or strongest language was not English. There were some issues with grammar, spelling, etc. and although I thought I had a pretty strong grasp on how much I should edit and how much I should stand back and retain the voice of the writer, it still was a learning process. I figured that the highest goal for editing another writer’s writing is to keep the voice of the author. Due to the voice being so bound up in the sentence structure and word choice of the author, I left the vast majority of things that could potentially be flagged as errors in place. The things that I certainly did edit though were any cases of incorrect spelling or word placement that completely obstructed the understanding of a sentence. Luckily, there weren’t too many of those, and the piece was able to stand strong on its own.