By Kathy Ide

Continued from How to Keep Your Editing Skills Sharp (Part 1: Read).


Make sure you have the latest editions of the appropriate reference books. For example:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition (for books)
  • The Associated Press Stylebook (for articles)
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (for books)
  • Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition (for articles)
  • The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style (for Christian books)
  • Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling

Get into the habit of looking up any word you are not 100 percent sure of the spelling for. (And read the definition and part of speech to make sure you’re using the right spelling for that usage.) Look up punctuation rules and style guidelines. Don’t rely on what you think you know, or what you remember from high school or a writing course you took, or even on the collaborative opinions of other writers or English teachers. The rules for books are different from the rules for term papers or articles.

Take Classes and Workshops

Attend writers’ conferences so you can polish your writing skills and meet other people in the business.

Enroll in local adult-education courses, or take correspondence or online classes in writing for publication, creative writing, journalism, editing, whatever area you may need to brush up on or wish to expand into.

The PEN Institute offers a variety of online courses specifically for editorial freelancers. For details, see the course list.

See What It’s Like

Hire a professional editor to critique some of your own writing. Not only will this help you improve your skills, but you’ll get a good feel for how your clients may respond when they get edits from you. You may even want to send your work to two or three editors to pick up on different editing styles.

To get a referral to one or more editors you can send your work to, click here to fill out an Editor Search form.


kathyinblueKathy Ide is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. She’s a full-time freelance editor/writing mentor. She teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and is the director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She’s an owner of the Christian Editor Network LLC, parent company to the Christian Editor Connection and The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. To find out more about Kathy, visit