The Oakland Observer is a production of the Professional Editing in Context class at the University of Pittsburgh. Rather than share a typical “About” page, we thought it’d be better to share our thoughts on editing. After all, that’s what this class was all about.

One of the most important things I learn from editing and the process is to be open. Your way of writing is not the only or right way to convey an idea. Furthermore, in this class we identified a common style guide that we could follow and contribute to, and this is an efficient way to ensure that everyone is on the same page in regards to editing other’s work. Going forth, I would like to adopt this method if I find myself in an environment that requires heavy editing work. This method contributes to good editing, but also good communication.

Hakeem Smith

The most important aspect of editing is consideration. Not only consideration of the traditions of editing and of the guidelines set out for you, but of your authors. That’s the biggest thing I have learned from being edited and being an editor — you won’t get anything positive if you’re not keeping the author’s voice in mind. Caring about what others have to say and figuring out how to make their voices clear is what I’ll keep in mind as I move forward into my career.

Haley Tyrrell

The most important aspect of editing is creating a space that encourages creativity and individualism. The role of the editor is to act as an intermediary between an author’s raw ideas and the rest of the world, so the editing process should be one that maintains the creative integrity of the original idea. Simultaneously, the edits should polish the way that idea is delivered to the audience.

Mackenzie DeVita

Editing and being edited by others has taught me to keep an open mind and welcome constructive criticism. Prior to this course, I tended to be a bit sensitive when it came to receiving feedback about my work. However, in doing the exercises we’ve done in class, I’ve learned that most people simply want to see your work be the best that it can be. Even if I don’t end up working directly as an editor, this idea is something that can be applied in most fields outside the academic setting.

Julia Jacobson

The most important part of editing is to make sure what’s being expressed is shared with the reader in the best possible way. That involves having good collaboration between the writer and the editor. It is good to listen to each other’s ideas and learn new things. Moving forward, I will take into account different styles of writing and make sure to keep them intact as I work to improve the work. 

Stacey Fleurime

For me, the most important aspect of editing is the idea that writing can almost always be changed for the better. It’s important to keep this in mind when being edited, because it is easy to become defensive of your words. Going forward I will accept feedback as it comes, take a step back so that it can sink in, and then make my changes after.

Aaron Horsting

To me, the most important aspect of editing is collaboration. It’s important to get feedback on your writing to become a better writer and collaborator. Moving forward from this class, I want to take with me the attention to detail that editing entails.

Kelsey O’Shea

Editing is all about communication. Editing exists to make a writer’s work the best it can be and to help the writer’s voice and ideas be heard. Similarly, during the editorial process, communication between the writer and the editor is key. Learning about the editorial process has allowed me to practice my communication skills, including listening closely and being clear with what I am trying to say. I will undoubtedly use these skills in many parts of my life going forward.

Renee Cantor

The most important aspect of editing is to complete a thorough examination of the text in order to check for and correct any issues with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Readers will notice these types of mistakes almost immediately and lose interest in reading further. Focusing on the audience will allow writers and editors to compose the best material possible to meet the audience’s needs.

Stacey Kern

The most important aspect of editing would have to be the developmental changes that are made that will become the foundation for all future editing. If the bigger problems are not resolved, then making the line and copy edits could end up being useless as the piece may drastically change later on. One takeaway that I learned from being edited is to get more proficient with identifying the subtler mistakes. Not spelling errors or where to start a new paragraph, but how you spell out a certain word i.e., does it need capitalization or an apostrophe? Those smaller mistakes begin to add up over time and can seriously hurt the piece at the end.

Adel Mansour

I learned that the tacky, bumper-sticking adages about how life works totally apply to the editing process. My corny advice of choice would be that the perfect is the enemy of the good. It’s highly unlikely that you as an editor will come across a perfect piece or make a perfect edit, but that shouldn’t be the goal of editing. Instead, making the piece better as best as you can is what you should strive for and what you should encourage among the people you work with.

Henry Armah

I would tell people that the most important aspect of editing is to remain open to all the feedback you receive, even if you may not agree with it at first. Moving forward, one thing that I will take from this experience in editing and being edited would be to always dedicate the appropriate amount of time to editing and to keep up with deadlines.

Dean Pinnell

I think the most important aspect of editing is something that may sound both cliché and overplayed, but it’s attention to detail. If you are not focused on doing a thorough job editing it becomes very easy for editors to glance over fairly obvious mistakes. These could be as simple as a spelling error, or even punctuation; but regardless when people read pieces they will be prioritizing correctness, and if that is not present all credibility is lost. One thing that I will take away from being an editor is to notice and adapt to when I am being extremely wordy with my writing. But this can also be applied to spoken word, where useless filibuster will cause listeners to lose interest in my thoughts.

Spencer Catalano