Book review

The Australian Editing Handbook (2nd Edition)

Elizabeth Flann & Beryl Hill, The Australian Editing Handbook (2nd Edition)
John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 174031-088 8
RRP: $44.95 pbk

Reviewed by Alison Savage
Catchword, Issue 101, Autumn 2005

Many years, and several reprints later, The Australian Editing Handbook is still a standard reference tool in any editor's library. The meticulous care taken to produce this book has ensured its continued usefulness placing it, as mentioned by Pam Peters the author of The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, as a companion to the Australian Style Manual for authors, editors and printers (6th edition). Less complex, simply presented and offering the most practical of advice, the handbook is invaluable to new editors clarifying points of practice, outlining the most basic tools of the trade and providing clear templates and checklists.

The first edition's relevance in today's workplace, where multimedia and computer technology is taking a front row seat, has recently been questioned. Editors need to be aware of the scope of publishing – from hardcopy to onscreen editing, print media to online publications. Flann and Hill emphasise that regardless of these shifts ‘the essential role of the editor is as important as ever; it is an integral part of the publishing process.’

The second edition of The Australian Editing Handbook has dealt with these criticisms expanding the content of the handbook to deal with onscreen editing; providing a comprehensive step by step guide to formatting (tracking changes, designing templates and inserting styles), and proofreading an edited text. A further chapter deals comprehensively with online publications, html, what makes a good web site and adapting written material for the web.

The chapter layout and sequencing in this edition is less awkward, improving the navigation and usefulness of the text. The handbook still addresses all the basics giving an initial overview of the publishing process and then covering matters of grammar, style and editing conventions. A running glossary, much akin to that found in the Style Manual provides user friendly definitions of often ambiguous or confounding terms – what is the difference between a preface and a foreword, a widow and an orphan?

These crucial elements teamed with new sections and even more examples, diagrams and charts perhaps contribute to subtly transforming quite a simple ‘beginners' guide’ to editing into something more comprehensive.

Elizabeth Flann and Beryl Hill, both exceptionally experienced editors and writers, present the art of editing with clarity, practical help and authority. This is definitely a ‘must have’ reference particularly for those of us who, working freelance, often require reliable, succinct and accessible advice.

Contact the Society: e-mail:
Post: Society of Editors (Tasmania), c/- Institute of Professional Editors, PO Box 8, Coopers Plains Qld 4108

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