Do you need to like your editor or proofreader?



You’ve finished your book, completed your marketing material or are looking for some help with your PhD thesis. Now you’ve got to find an editor / proofreader / wordy wordsmith.

How to find an editor or proofreader

It’s a tough decision. First you have to find them. You can find an editor (let’s just call them editors so I don’t have to repeat myself all the time) in a variety of ways. You can find them through:

 word of mouth

 places like writers’ groups

social media

or you can actually go straight to society directories (such as the SfEP directory).

I’m sure there are other ways to find an editor. If you use a different way be sure to let me know in the comments below.

Finding an editor can be equally tough if you are not sure exactly what you want. Let’s face it, unless you’re an expert at something, you rarely know exactly what you want and will rely on expert guidance. Do you really know if you need an edit or a proofread? (Hint: unless you have your material completely finished and ready to go, it won’t be a proofread you’re after).


thinking businessman

click here to find out whether you need an editor or proofreader


How do you choose which editor to work with?

So, let’s imagine you’ve trawled through the available resources and have decided that there are one or two (or more) editors who fit your profile – they are qualified, knowledgeable in your area and fit your budget. (Hint: cheapest is rarely best).

How on earth do you choose which one to work with?

Do you choose the most qualified?

The cheapest?

The one nearest to where you live?

See? It’s a tough decision. One editor may offer incentives (price plans, bundles and packages, discounts), another may just offer one or two services, whereas another may be so highly qualified you think you’ll never be able to afford them or fit into their schedule. If you are a business, budget may be less of a problem but timescale may be – do you choose the one who can deal with you straight away or wait until the one you really think you could work with has an opening in their schedule?

Here’s a thought – how about also finding one you enjoy working with?

woman with computer

Do your homework and talk to editors

When it comes down to it, once you have your shortlist you could procrastinate until it’s too late to book any of your preferred choices. Remember, good editors usually get booked up pretty quickly and may only be able to fit you in at short notice if they have a project timeline slide.

You will have chosen your shortlist to criteria of some sort, but now is the time to see if you can actually work with them.

How many people actually do their homework when choosing who to work with? You could find that someone who fits your profile academically is a nightmare to work with. Come on, we’ve all had that brilliant colleague who has the personality of a robot, or the colleague who seems mediocre on paper but is a delight to work with.

is your colleague a robot

While qualifications are important, you also need to be able to feel comfortable with your editor.

This is why it is so important to start a dialogue with the editors you choose.

Talk to them.

Ok, email them. Whatever, but do talk to them.

Right at the outset, when you send that first enquiry, you need to talk about what you think you need, ask for their advice and see where you fit into their schedule.

How do you feel when you talk to them?  Gut instinct can work here, but do you feel comfortable with the conversation.

How will they work on your writing? Do your ideas and theirs mix well?

Do they seem to know what they’re talking about? They should, but do they communicate it well too?

Are they too technical? Would they mind explaining things or do you think they are used to working with more technical clients.


This may be a teensy bit controversial … but …

If you don’t feel comfortable with the level of communication you probably won’t feel comfortable with the editing process.

comfortable at home

So do you have to like your editor or proofreader?

You don’t have to LIKE your editor, but you do need to be COMFORTABLE working with them.

Some people prefer a more formal editor/client relationship.

Some people like a more informal set-up.

Now, don’t get me wrong, most professionals can work either way, becoming more formal when the occasion demands, or more conversational when it’s preferred. Hell, even I can scrub up and do the formal thing when needed.

Faberge: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars exhibit

(c) etee, Flikr

But the working relationship, no matter what that might be, needs to be something you can live with. Sometimes hiring an editor is a one-off, but for many writers or businesses it becomes an ongoing relationship that can last a long time. Talking to your editor shouldn’t be a thing of dread, you should look forward to working with them and allowing them to help you hone your writing.

Will you both enjoy working together?

Here are three ways you can figure out if you’ll get on:

  1. Look at their websites.

Some editors have swanky websites, some don’t, but you should be able to get a bit of personality and information from their sites. It’s not the be-all and end-all of a working relationship, but it’s common sense to check them out.

You may gauge something of their working agendas, their specialities and affiliations. If someone highlights their academic work, they may not readily take on your work of high fiction.

You may also get a shock and find out your editor has green hair, and you have to ask yourself if you could work with such a non-conformist.

Sara Donaldson | copywriter | copyeditor | proofreader

Honestly, most of the time I forget it’s green

  1. Talk to your editorial choices.

Before making a firm decision ask them questions about how they’ll work with you, what level of editing they think you need, where you can fit into their schedule and timescale. You should, through conversation, be able to figure out whether you’ll be able to work together.

  1. Have a look at their work

Does their work seem to tie in with yours, or if not are they interested in your type of writing? Going by someone’s past work isn’t always an indicator of their future work. There may be good reasons that there’s little information on their website about the type of work they have done in the past. For example I have a portfolio, but it by no means shows all my past work – working with individuals and companies rather than traditional publishers can mean work won’t appear in a portfolio because of confidentiality issues.

confidential and confidentiality

If you can’t find any examples of their work online, bring it into the conversation. Ask if they’ve worked on your type of material, and if they haven’t ask if they are qualified to work on it. You may find that your editor hasn’t made it public knowledge, but they are dying to work on your type of project. And don’t be afraid to ask about qualifications, your editor won’t be offended.

So, do you need to like them?

In short, go with whatever feels the most comfortable.

You don’t need to LIKE your editor, but you need to take into account:

Are they qualified to do the job?

Do they work in a way that you’re comfortable with?

Can you talk to them properly?

Can you afford them?

Are your timeframes compatible?

If you can actually like your editor too it will make the whole process so much more enjoyable and you’ll look forward to working together.



If you think you could work with this green-haired editorial consultant, why not take a peek at my SfEP directory entry? Contact me and we can talk through your project.


How to Delete Styles in Microsoft Word

How to Delete Styles in Microsoft Word

Time for a very quick article.

You know how to work with styles in Word.

You know how to save style sets, allowing you to call upon your favourite styles whenever you need them.

Now, learn how to delete them.

 Deleting Styles in Word first

To delete a style in the current document

To delete an individual style in your current document, as long as it’s not one of the default styles (normal, headings 1–5 etc.), go to the Styles ribbon and click on that little down arrow in the bottom right-hand corner.

Deleting Styles in Word 1

Click on Options and in the ‘Select styles to show’ dropdown menu choose ‘In current document’. The ‘Only in this document’ check box at the bottom should be automatically checked.


Deleting Styles in Word 2


Click OK.

This will then show you all the styles in the document in the Styles box.

Say you want to delete the ‘Rubbish Style’ style … just hover over the style name and a dropdown menu arrow should appear. Click on the arrow and you’ll get some choices, including Delete.

Deleting Styles in Word 3

A pop up box will then ask if you want to delete the style, and you just say yes.

Screenshot (153)

Voila, it’s gone.

It’s no longer in your current document, and won’t annoy you any more.

But what if you really, really hate it and want it gone forever?


To permanently delete a style from a style set

If you’re using a style set, you can permanently delete an individual style in much the same way as deleting it from your document.

Load your style set.

Deleting Styles in Word 5

Click on the little arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the Styles ribbon section and select the Styles ‘in current document’ by clicking on Options (like you did before).

This time click on ‘New documents based on this template’ at the bottom of the box.

Deleting Styles in Word 6

Then delete the style you don’t need any more.

When you come out of that style set, then decide to use it again, the style you deleted is still gone. It is no more. It is a deleted style.

You will notice though that you can’t delete the default Word styles. If you hover over the little box the delete choice is greyed out. It’s a good idea really, because you don’t want to get rid of the basic styles that you base all your other styles on.

 Deleting Styles in Word 7


If you want to revert to the default styles while working on a document, you should find a Default (black and white) style in your Style sets, or the default for the version of Word you are running.

Deleting Styles in Word 8

Remember, if you save your styles using a style set name, you should be able to choose whichever style you have created or, by default, a new document will open up with a default style setting.

But what happens if you’ve managed to change the actual default style set?

You’ve probably managed it by changing, or modifying, the default style and clicking on the ‘New documents based on this template’. That changes all the documents from that moment on using the new default.

How on earth do you get your default styles back?

Well, the answer lies in the or Normal.dotm file. This is the default template style and it’s what you’ve managed to change.

Always be wary about renaming and deleting files, but in this case it seems that the answer is to delete (or rename) the file. If the file is deleted, on reboot, Word will create a new one as it realizes that it’s missing. BUT this will remove any other formatting choices that you have made, so this really is a last attempt to get back to normal.

There is a page on the Microsoft website that explains what you need to do.


As usual I hope this helps. I use Word 2007, but your version of Word should be similar.



How To Set Styles In Microsoft Word

How to set styles in microsoft word

Ok, so you know how much I love Word’s styles feature.

It’s fabulous.

Not only does it allow you to change the look of a document on a whim, it can save you a whole heap of time.

And when you’re working on a large, bitty project it can save you a massive amount of time, especially if your client changes their mind at the last minute.

Styles come into their own, though, when you’re working for a client that works in a certain way, prefers a certain setup and they come back to you with more projects.

I’ve already touched upon how to work with styles in Word, but now I’m going to show you a little trick.

Those of you who know how this works can look away now, go make a cup of tea and do something more exciting instead.

For those of you who are thinking ‘what? there’s a trick?’ settle down and prepare to learn something that will change how you work with Word forever (or it might just give you an ‘ahaa’ moment).

Please remember, I work with Word 2007 (because I like it), so if you use a different version there may be slight differences. Overall you should be able to follow the tutorial OK.

Styles screenshot2

First I’m going to create some styles.

Let’s say …

Heading 1 in Book Antiqua size 16, underlined and bold in a nice snazzy purple

Heading 2 in a nice Cooper Black size 14, bold in a nice 70s orange (I do like this one but never get to use it)

Title in Adobe Garamond Pro size 16, centred with a blue underline and written in a hideous moss green colour

And we’ll leave Normal, normal. Mine’s Calibri size 11 in black. Nice and easy to read with no bells and whistles.

How to set styles screenshot A


Now you know how to create styles, because I showed you, and it’s very, very quick. But let’s say that you are working for a client who loves his snazzy purple and 1970s orange bubble writing.

You’ve created all your styles and he likes them. Even better, let’s say he told you what he wanted and you know you’ll probably lose the file that gives his preferences. Or you’ll write them down in your notebook of favourite things and promptly forget where you put it. I’m still looking for a notebook from a makeup masterclass last year – I know it’s in a stack of notebooks somewhere that’s not work related, but can I find it? …

stack of papers and notebooks


The easiest thing is to save your style set in Word, so you can access it whenever you need. It can sit there, nestled in amongst all the other style sets until you need it.

Here’s what you do.

Note: in the Styles section of the ribbon you’ll see the styles you’ve created.

Screenshot (123)_LI

1. Create your styles

You’ve already done this, but just in case you forget – create the styles you want for your client’s document.

Once you open a new document, Word will revert to its ‘normal’ generic styles, or the styles you have made by modifying these standard ones.

These styles you have just created are for this document only.

But you want to save your new styles so you can use them, without creating them all over again …


2. Save your style set

Go over to the Change Styles button and click on it (it’ll be highlighted when you hover your cursor over it).

styles screenshot 5


NOT the little down arrow in the bottom right corner of the Styles ribbon section.

styles screenshot6

Now click on Style Set.

Screenshot (131)

You’ll see a lot of options but head to the bottom and click on Save as Quick Style Set.

Screenshot (132)

All you have to do now is give your style set a name that you will remember and that won’t have you scratching your head in a year’s time when the client comes back to you with volume 2 of their life’s work. Let’s just call this one 70s Dude Style. You’ll save it as a Word template so you don’t have to do anything else, just click Save.

styles screenshot9

3. Use your shiny new style

You’ve now saved your style. So let’s see if it works.

Open up a new document and you’ll notice that Word’s generic styles are peeking at you from the ribbon.

styles in word boring screenshot

But we don’t want those, we want 70s Dude Style.

Click on Change Styles.

styles screenshot10

Then click on Style Set and look what’s there right at the top of the list! Don’t get too excited, it’s only on the top because it starts with a number, if you create other styles they’ll appear in alphabetical order.

styles screenshot11

Click on 70s Dude Style and you’ll see that in the Style ribbon there are now bright purple and orange headings.

styles screenshot12

So now you can add your own styles to Word and call on them whenever you need. It really does save time – and can also cut out the monotony of styling documents for each new job.


Note: Styles are fabulous, but when working with a client, publisher or typesetter, keep it simple. You can easily go overboard and make styles for everything, which can be helpful, but can be a headache if the client, publisher or typesetter use their own styles. Always ask if there is a preferred method of working, or a preferred style set – and if there is, ask the client to send a blank document, which uses their preferred style, then save that to your style sets instead.