Stylistic Editing with Carolyn Brown

Stylistic Editing

Whether you edit novels, reports, websites or magazines, stylistic editing is a key skill. Editors Canada’s professional editorial standards define stylistic editing as “editing to clarify meaning, improve flow, and smooth language.” It is the domain of those editors who want to communicate: to get the message from the author to the reader accurately, honestly, and even elegantly. It also relies on developing that rare commodity, editorial judgment.

This seminar is based on the Editors Canada standards for this skill, but it will also look at how stylistic editing is done in a variety of publishing settings. Expectations for stylistic editing can vary widely. How can editors adapt to the needs of their employers and clients?

We will cover

The context for stylistic editing

  • Who are the readers, and how does that determine the approach to stylistic editing?
  • What is the medium, and how does that affect the approach?
  • What is the purpose, and how does stylistic editing help communicate that purpose?

Judgment in approaching editing decisions

  • Paragraph-level decisions (length, structure, logical flow, connection with other paragraphs)
  • Sentence-level decisions (length, sentence construction, logical flow, connectors, as well ascommon problems such as passive voice, noun strings, etc.)
  • Word-level decisions (word choice geared to readers, omission of unnecessary words)

The toolkit

  • Subordination and coordination
  • Affirmative constructions
  • Judicious use of passive voice
  • Disentangling noun strings
  • Resolving ambiguity
  • Strengthening verbs and correcting nominalizations
  • Reorganizing paragraphs and sentences
  • Gentle rewriting
  • Working with visuals (illustrations, photos, tables, graphs)

Communicating with authors

  • When and who to query
  • Using Comments to query
  • Whether and when to use Track Changes 
  • Amount and level of editing
  • When to honour the author’s voice

The approach to this seminar will involve lively discussions, tales from the trenches, and hands-on exercises. Join us for an enriching and informative day devoted to our craft.


Carolyn Brown is a Certified Professional Editor and Editor in the Life Sciences. She has edited a wide variety of material for 35 years, specializing in scientific and medical publications for the past 25 years. She is the author of the chapter on citation in Editing Canadian English 2nd edition and a perennial seminar leader.

Date & Time: Mar 06, 2024 09:00 AM to
Mar 06, 2024 04:00 PM
[America/Toronto UTC -5]


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Location: Collabüro
499 Preston St
Ottawa Ontario

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Registration Closes: Feb 28, 2024 11:59 PM

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