The Associated Press (AP) made nearly 250 changes in their style guide. The business of writing and editing is a business of constant change. In addition to changes in the “rules” of writing, opportunities change as well. Internet editing is one of those opportunities.
In the early days of websites and blogs even the simple task of proofreading required technical and program code knowledge. Now many websites and most blogs use a content management system (CMS), which looks and feels much like a word processer. Programming and technical skills are not as necessary now, opening up a new specialty for editors.
What is Internet Editing?
Editing for the internet may include editing static web pages or managing and editing blog content. In the case of editing web pages, you will probably work with the website manager. As a blog editor, though, you may be doing all the usual editor duties: soliciting articles, editing, scheduling, and posting.
It’s The Same But Different
Most of the skills needed for this specialty are similar to editing for print or e-documents. As editors, we need to know the rules of writing, even though those rules may be slightly different for online material. Often internet writing is similar to newspaper writing. It involves proper headlines, the inverted pyramid style, and short paragraphs. As with newspaper writing, often you will be working with tight deadlines.
Internet editing also has some differences. Because you are editing online products, you may need to do all of your work online through the CMS. The audience’s need is different than a print audience in that they have a different way of reading online.
What Is A Typical Internet Style?
An internet audience is generally looking for information quickly. This is why the newspaper inverted pyramid works well. The facts are often given in the first couple of paragraphs and “above the fold.” On the other hand, some websites and blogs want to always start an article with a story.
Other typical website/blog styles are
- Easily scanned for information using subheads, numbered list, and bullet points.
- Short paragraphs.
- Article length about 500 words.
- Casual writing style.
As an internet editor you may need additional skills such as
- Knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO), which is a method of placing words or phrase that will make the writing appear at or near the top of a search website.
- Social media skills.
- The ability to work on a tight deadline.
- Knowing a little HTML programming (the basic code for websites) is a plus, but not a requirement.
Internet Editing Tools
Many websites and blogs, like magazine and book publishers, have a specific style sheet for you to work with. In addition, there are standard guides as well. The Yahoo Style Guide is used by many websites along with the AP Style Guide. Blogs often stick with the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Some sites are a combination of all three.
As with any type of editing, the key to success is to present well-written material with few or no errors. The content needs to be good and interesting to the market the site’s target market. In this regard, editing for the internet is not much different than print editing.
Often small blogs and non-profit organizations are looking for editors who will do the work free or in exchange for other services. When you are learning new skills this is an option for you. Larger companies and blogs do pay for editing services either by the post or by the month.
If you already have blog you may be a step ahead to offering internet editing because you know how to work online with a CMS. Use the skills you have, learn those that you don’t have, and offer another service to your clients.
When she’s not tending chickens and peacocks, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Susan brings her trademark realistic and encouraging messages to conferences, retreats, and small groups. Her books include Science in the Kitchen, Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can read more of Susan’s real-world solutions at www.practicalinspirations.com.