Intern Editing Guide

The full BOOK PRODUCTION GUIDE (which includes sections on design and marketing) can be purchased by Clicking Here. Interns should ask for a free PDF version.


By: Anna Faktorovich, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief

Revised: February 4, 2012

#1 Rule: Help Speed-Up the Production of the Book

#2 Rule: Make Sure that those Who Buy the Book Are Happy with the Product

This brief guide should help those who are affiliated with Anaphora to familiarize themselves with some proofreading, editing and formatting guidelines that are particular to this press. It is a work in progress, and will be updated in the future.

Some Interesting Books about Publishing:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit! Start Your Own Home-Based Publishing Company and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book with CreateSpace and Amazon by C. Pinheiro, Nick Russell and Cynthia Sherwood (Kindle Edition – Aug 19, 2009) – Kindle eBook.

Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishers by Thomas Woll and Dominique Raccah (Paperback – Jan 1, 2010).

Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future by Jason Epstein (Paperback – Jan 15, 2002).

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book by Dan Poynter (Paperback – Mar 25, 2007).

Or run a search for “book publishing” on Amazon or another book search engine, and pick a book by the best academic publisher (Yale, Harvard).

General Editing Advice:

Keep in mind that I might not be reviewing all your edits after you make them – but the writer will – so only change things that have to be changed – and re-read sentences after you edit them.

It is always useful to make corrections on typos, grammatical and spelling errors and all other obvious problems. I recommend having a book like Elements of Style on your shelf, or double-checking a grammar book or a dictionary if you aren’t sure about a grammatical change. Some grammatical glitches might be debatable as errors or stylistic differences, and you should be aware of these distinctions.

Here are a few common grammatical stylistic differences that are frequently mistaken for errors:

Don’t add commas after “And” or “But” at the beginning of a sentence.

Don’t add or subtract commas before and – these are optional.

Be alert to the fact that there are some unusual capitalization exceptions when you change the capitalization of a word that seems to be illogically capitalized. For example, “Bildungsroman” is capitalized – you should look up in a dictionary/ thesaurus literary terms and other words you are not familiar with to check their proper capitalization/ usage, before making changes.

You can never be sure about the spelling of words in Scots, in older versions of English, and in other linguistic variations. For example, “The King’s Juant.” So, avoid fixing these spellings unless you’ve looked up the regional/ time spelling and the word used in original document or you are familiar with this dialect or looked up its dimensions. Definitely don’t correct potentially intentional misspellings inside of quotations.

Please research the details of the rules of italics, which are pretty specific. For example, when it’s a name of a series of novels “Waverley novels” isn’t italicized, but the first novel in the series, by itself is italicized, Waverley.

Know the difference between when “the”/ “a” etc are used. If you notice that you keep noticing what you think is an error in the/a usage, look it up to double-check if the author had a reason to use the other variation. For example, “by the Bailie and Andrew.” While it seems like “the” should be deleted in this example, the original novel uses “the Bailie” because his name

is not Bailie – he is THE Bailie, or a keeper of the jail. Also, in “the Tale” “the” is necessary to specify that it’s the book, otherwise the reader might think, if reading quickly that it’s another “a Tale.” Linguists and grammarians disagree about some of these variations – so your goal as an editor is to avoid editing these questionable points and to fix clear and necessary mistakes, of which there are usually plenty in even the best books.

Know the basic rules of grammar and don’t insert grammatical errors just to fix clarity or other problems that seem to be present:

For example, don’t separate thoughts with commas; in other words don’t break the subject from the verb with a comma between them, etc.

When referring to events in literature, the present tense, rather than the past tense is usually used.

Editing Technique:

Don’t change text inside of quotations without adding [] around the change or inserting where you make a deletion.

Avoid deleting important bits of information – re-read sentences if you make several corrections.

But/ however and other direction changers shouldn’t be altered so that the meaning of the sentence changes.

Don’t reverse sentences or don’t move large parts of the sentence from one end to the other, unless the style or grammar is significantly improved by the reversal.

Some Common Mistakes:

. . . should be changed to … It’s a good idea to use the “Replace” function in Word, rather than doing these manually. But, be aware, that some writers insert a 4th period . . . . or . . .. – you want to double-check the type of . . . that the writer commonly uses and insert this into the “Replace” function, putting … into the “Replace to” box.

Commas, periods and other punctuation marks usually go on the interior of quotation marks. For example, the following is incorrect, “Here we go”. The following is correct, “Here we go.”

European writers and even some folks in America sometimes use ‘single’ quotation marks when a “double” quotation mark is appropriate. Remember that only quotes inside of quotes need only a single quotation mark. And in block quotes, double-quotation marks are used around text quoted in the block – the block itself does not need quotation marks around it.

Note: If you correct mistakes that aren’t mistakes in the writers’ writing – they might get upset and will complain that they don’t want to be working with interns, etc. (YAKS!). Some writers don’t complain, but they might order fewer copies of their book etc. If you don’t notice some mistakes that are there, the writer might notice these later on after the formatting is completed, and this usually means a very difficult re-formatting job for me. So, try to find a balance, or simply look up any problems that you aren’t sure about. It’s a good idea for you to give yourself a grammar refresher course as you work on editing projects for Anaphora.

How Much to Edit?

There are several degrees and varieties of editing methods, and the method you use is primarily determined by your ability and time limitations. If you are working as a volunteer, any help you can offer is much appreciated. But here are some definitions and explanations about what the various editing degrees are. A writer frequently requests one of these, and I usually do a heavy edit myself for books where the writer is buying or finding buyers for 200+ copies. The most commonly requested edit is a light proofreading, and this is what you should usually do, if I don’t send a request for one of the other options. If you would like to try one of the other options on some or all of a manuscript for practice, please let me know, and I’ll ask the writer if they are ok with it. Some writers would rather keep their work as-is, and others are happier with the maximum degree of editing. It’s important to follow the writer’s preferences. In general, it’s a good idea to do heavier editing on the first and last pages of a book, and on the opening and closing paragraphs of the chapter because these are frequently read by those reviewing the book or thinking of buying it.

If you’d like, you can also help with formatting the document to prepare it for being turned into a book. Formatting in Word can be done at the same time as proofreading/ editing, or afterwards. Additional formatting is later done in InDesign or Publisher, but most of the formatting can be preserved in the transfer, which significantly speeds up the production process. Some elements can’t be done/ formatted in Word, such as captions, tables, and a few other elements.

Also, please do edit the writer bio, summary/ abstract, blurbs and all introductory/ bibliographic information. The bio/ summary usually are posted on the Anaphora website, and in various other websites, and on the cover of the books – so it’s especially important that these are heavily proofread.

I credit all interns on the website for the work that they do as interns, and I can also offer proofreading/ editing credit if you do a heavy proofreading or a heavy editing. For light editing/ proofreading, I won’t give you credit on a book because an editor of a project is somebody that makes significant changes to improve a book, which means making several practical changes in every paragraph, if not in every sentence of the MS.

I personally think creative and innovative re-writes are almost always a good idea, but I infrequently do them on book projects to avoid having my work go to waste. There is a lot heavier re-writing and ghost-writing going on in some of the bigger publishing houses, but folks there usually make $6,000+ per a heavy edit. Editors who work professionally, and only make light edits can make around $600 per project. So, only do heavy editing and re-writing work for Anaphora if it’s fun for you – it is never a requirement. A volunteer shouldn’t do $6,000 of work for free, unless they want to do it for practice or for fun. Also speed of editing/ proofreading should determine the level of editing you should do. If we are backed-up, light editing is more appropriate, but if we are having a slow season, heavier editing might be OK.

Light Proofreading

Read over the MS, and change with track-changes the grammatical, spelling and other errors and typos that stand out. If there are any obvious mistakes with names, plot, story and other elements that stand out, insert a comment about the problem, or fix it, if this means changing only a few words here and there. Please do read the entire MS when doing any proofreading – the goal is to make sure buyers of the book won’t have grounds to return it because of the typos/ lack of proofreading done on the project.

Heavy Proofreading

When doing heavy proofreading, in addition, to the steps you take in light proofreading, you read the MS more slowly, and pay attention to the style and the wording in the sentences and not only to obvious mistakes. Keep track-changes on, and feel free to delete repetitions, or even whole sentences that do not help the story or are badly written. Sometimes deleting even a whole paragraph might help the rest of the chapter to move forward more quickly. But, don’t go too wild with the deletions, as most writers might feel attachment to some of the details even if the paragraph isn’t moving quickly. Also, when deleting, make sure to delete any pertinent information to the story – such as, who’s done it, etc. Basically in heavy proofreading, you should keep the stylistic rules in Elements of Style in mind, and not only the rules of basic spelling and grammar. It’s a good idea to have a book published by a well-known publisher on your desk in the same genre as the project you are editing, and checking the style in this published book against the style in the book you are editing.

Light Editing

When a writer requests light editing, they usually mean a light proofread as well as a bit of light editing. As you review the MS, for grammatical/ spelling errors, also insert comments about ways the writer can improve the book/ story before it goes to press. Keep in mind that if the book has already been accepted, the writer might not be willing to make many or any changes. So, it’s a good idea to think about your comments and explain why the changes you are proposing are necessary. Also, only comment on things that definitely should or must be changed to make a commercial book. If you saw this book at a store, would you buy it? If not, why not? The answer to this question – should be present in your comments.

Heavy Editing

When doing heavy-editing, do everything you would do in a heavy proofreading and light editing, and in addition feel free to suggest much bigger changes. For example, should some chapters be deleted or grouped together? Are the parts of the book logically divided? Are some characters/ plotlines unnecessary? Are there things the writer can do to improve their style/ writing method throughout? Give them some pointers. Feel free to delete as many paragraphs/ sentences or even chapters as you’d like (keeping track-changes on). You might want to do some re-writing on the first and the last few pages of the project, to make sure that these are very polished and ready to be sold to readers.

Academic Heavy Editing

In addition to doing heavy editing and proofreading, if you are working on an academic or critical work, you should also check for a few elements that are only a concern in these types of projects.

  1. Is the bibliography using 1 consistent bibliographic method? I prefer using MLA, but frequently chapter end notes in Chicago style are more practical and more readable in academic books. You should have a handbook for that style in your library, if you want on academic books, and double-check the citations.
  2. Is the book readable and can it be understood by a general reader that’s not familiar with the subject matter that’s discussed in the project?
  3. If the book is an edited dissertation – are all references to the dissertation deleted?
  4. Is all evidence provided believable? Is the researcher making up or exaggerating their claims? If so, try to suggest corrections, and further research.
  5. Do ideas connect and flow from one to the next? Does the writer introduce the content he or she is about to cover in a given chapter properly, so that you know where the chapter is going? Does the writer summarize what they proved in the chapter at the end? Are their logical chapter breaks that separate content of different sorts?
  6. Is there an adequate introduction/ summary provided that fully explains what the book is about, and that captures your interest in the project?
  7. Are some parts confusing, difficult to read, contradictory, or otherwise nonsensical – try to fix these glitches, or leave a note asking for clarification – explaining what’s confusing etc.
  8. It’s a good idea to do some research on Wikipedia or by other easily-accessible means when doing an edit of an academic work in a specialized field. This way, you will be somewhat familiar with the topic, and it should be easier for you to understand what the writer is trying to say.

Editing Poetry, Novels, Short Stories and Other Odd Works

While some books are written in a plain modern style, and can easily be edited with the help of Elements of Style or the like, there are some projects that will challenge the grammarians in you. For example, a poetry book, I recently published uses an E. E. Cummings style of poetry and in this style there is a different set of grammatical and punctuation rules. Here’s an example:





                                                            First, the good line

finds its own

source—the sun,

moon or other


:    travels through

the bent finger

—continues its



In this case, the positioning of the lines or their spacing in relation to each other is more important than if the commas are in the right places. Still, if you read a post-modern poem, and find that it is non-sense, or there are clear logical fallacies/ problems, you should leave a note for the writer. The more post-modern the poetry is, the more careful you should be with changing it. You can still be very helpful if you notice typos/ spelling mistakes, but throw most rules of grammar out of the window.

You should also be aware of the genre your novel is written in. How do most fantasy vs. mystery novels start? You should give writers advice on how they can fit their chosen genre better. Avoid trying to make a fantasy more mystery-novel-like, etc.


As I mentioned earlier, there are several parts of an MS that might require re-writing: first and last few pages, bio, summary, beginnings of chapters and parts of the MS that have very severe problems of various sorts. Before re-writing, ask if you feel confident that you can do a better job than the writer has done. If you are sure that your re-write will improve the MS, and the writer has approved re-writes and other major changes – proceed, but be sure to change the color of this added heavily altered text, to let the writer double-check if they like your changes. There is always a chance that they might not like the changes and your work might have been wasted, unless the writer or the Editor-in-Chief specifically asked for a re-write.


There are some formatting mistakes that appear in most manuscripts, and some are uniquely weird to a given writer. Here are some ways you can improve the formatting of an MS at the same time as you do your proofreading/ editing:

  1. Change the font throughout to one of the following most frequently-used fonts that you think is the best fit: Calisto MT, Bodoni MT, Cambria, Book Antique. The font should look good in a book and many other Word fonts are not available in Bold/ Italic in InDesign, where I format the book. Courier New should be used only with scripts or script excerpts inside of the book. Change font size to 11pt throughout and to 16pt for the chapter titles, poem titles or other major headings. Feel free to change these titles to any font that would look good in a book, and change titles to all caps, unless the writer might have a reason for using another capitalization method on titles.
  2. If there is a Table of Contents in the MS, delete page #s from this table. If there isn’t a Table of Contents and there are poem titles or chapter titles (other than Chapter 1, 2 etc), insert a Table of Contents, but leave out page numbers next to the titles, as these will change when the book is formatted in InDesign.
  3. Change the spacing of the MS, so that it is single-spaced, without extra lines inserted between paragraphs.
  4. Paragraph indentation is one of the most annoying problems when formatting – here is a trick to fix it. A. Select a place that has been tabbed in the document and save it with “Ctrl+C” 2. Hit “Ctrl+ F” and replace the tab             you’ve saved, hitting “Ctrl+V” with nothing in the “Replace” box. This will delete all tabs throughout the document. 3. Select the text of the entire document (you might want to do this 1 chapter at a time, as chapter titles and other headings shouldn’t be indented), and move the top part of the ruler cone, so that the MS’s paragraphs are all indented by .25” or ¼ of an inch. .25” is the standard paragraph indentation I use in 6X9” books. Don’t delete tabs in poetry books or in other books where the tab has a useful function in the text.
  5. Block quotes and other oddly indented paragraphs: when you do the above change, you might want to be careful to skip doing it on paragraphs that are oddly indented. Block quotes are frequently indented not only on the first line, but throughout either by .25” or .5” – it should be consistently either .25” or .5” throughout. Sometimes, block quotes are also indented on the other side or on the right side of the lines – this is a stylistic decision that’s up to the formatter.
  6. Works Cited and Bibliography pages are usually reverse-indented. If you aren’t sure how a given part should be indented, check how it is done in a published book in a similar genre. Also check if the citations follow a common method such as MLA/ Chicago.
  7. The first line in a new novel/ critical book chapter should not be indented.
  8. Delete page breaks between chapters, moving the next chapter to be around 6 lines after the preceding one, as these frequently don’t transfer well in InDesign and it takes longer to delete lines when formatting in InDesign than it does when formatting in Word. There should be at least 2 lines between a chapter or another title and the first line of the section.
  9. Chapter titles and all other formatting should be consistent throughout. If there are any chapters without titles among a group of chapters with titles, do insert suggested titles, and otherwise fix the formatting so that it’s consistent.

Thanks for Your Work!

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