Editors are resource fiends. We can’t get enough books, blogs, podcasts and webinars, and when we sign up for a training course or conference, we’re often so excited that we immediately share the news with our network of contacts (our #edibuddies).
If editors learn something new, too, we’re likely to pass it on to our colleagues, link sharing and blog writing to get the word out. This could be formally, through the resources of a professional association, or informally, on our own websites or social media feeds.
Here are six resources editors can dip into to build their basic toolkit, keep their knowledge up to date, and anchor themselves in a friendly learning community.
1. Reference books
There are two stand-out books that should be in every editor’s toolkit if they work in British English: the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, which gives details about how to spell, abbreviate, hyphenate and capitalise a wide range of words and terms, and New Hart’s Rules, the Oxford style guide, which delves deeper into rules on style, language usage and the layout of publications. These books are also published as one volume, the New Oxford Style Manual.
In US English, check out the fantastically detailed Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, both available as an online subscription or in hard copy. You can follow Chicago and AP Style on social media for updates and inspiration, too.
If you’re a member of a library, you may be able to access the New Oxford Style Manual and The Chicago Manual of Style online for free, so dig out your card!
If you’re looking for more, check out the CIEP’s list of reference books as recommended by fellow editors.
2. Search engines
Search engines are invaluable for quick fact checks and to rapidly verify the spelling and usage of words and terms. The content of entire dictionaries is available online, and reverse image websites such as TinEye can also be useful. Plus, it’s all there for free.
Never stop learning
Most editors start their career with a training course and soon realise that it most certainly won’t be their last training experience as an editor. Language and editing practice changes, and editors are always learning.
There are countless training courses in editing and proofreading. In the UK, those run by the CIEP, the PTC and BookMachine are highly regarded by publishers and provide a strong basis for editorial skills. However, it’s also worth looking out for courses run by other training organisations and independent providers, including editors, that offer focused tuition in specialist skills, such as development or fiction editing.
Another great way to train is through conferences and webinars. You don’t even have to attend conferences these days in person – many run partly or fully online. Webinars are often free, and if you register you can usually get access to a recording. Conferences and webinars are most often organised and promoted through professional associations (see point 6).
4. Blogs and podcasts
Many editors blog. It helps them crystallise their thoughts and promote their work. And this is great because editing blogs are free to read, and they can often lead you to other useful resources. The CIEP publishes regular blog posts by its members and colleagues, and has a searchable blog archive going back many years. BookMachine also has a blog, as do professional editing associations such as ACES, Editors Canada and AFEPI Ireland.
You can also turn to podcasts, which are another learning opportunity, and mostly free. Search online for podcasts that cover writing and editing and give the ones that interest you most a try. The Editing Podcast, about all aspects of editing, is a good place to start, as is the BookMachine podcast, which interviews notable people in publishing.
For fascinating discussions about contemporary language use, try The Allusionist, or, for pure entertainment, Something Rhymes With Purple, a show about etymology hosted by national treasure Gyles Brandreth and CIEP Honorary Vice-President Susie Dent. Most podcasts publish a transcript, which is great for accessibility or if you want to revisit anything.
5. Social media networks
If you want to dip your toe into the editing world, there’s no better way to do it than to frequent the social media spaces where editors hang out. Start by following some of the accounts the CIEP follows on X (formerly Twitter), or by seeing who comes up using the hashtag #AmEditing. Editors also use LinkedIn and Facebook (look for Editors’ Association of Earth or the CIEP), and there’s a growing presence on Bluesky and Mastodon.
6. Professional associations
Joining a professional association will give you a whole host of benefits, including networking events and conferences, discounts on training and access to members-only resources and forums. Check out free self-publishing advice from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), free resources for copywriters from ProCopywriters and fact sheets and focus papers on all aspects of editing from the CIEP. Think about what you need and whether it’s worth the investment – it usually will be, if you make the most of it.
These are just six types of resources to support your editing practice. Let us know in the comments below which have worked best for you, or if you have any other ideas for developing your editorial skills.
The CIEP’s information team works to commission, create and promote resources for editors and proofreaders. It works virtually and is powered by Zoom, Slack, Dropbox and biscuits.