Masterly sub-editing

One of the frustrating things about working as a subeditor is that one’s best work will remain unrecognised by anyone other than a small handful of colleagues. The next edition of one of our magazines was planned to contain an article extending across two and two-thirds pages, with an ad on the remaining third. Relatively late in the process, it was decided that the ad would take up the whole page, which meant that almost two columns text just had to be cut.

I spent about half an hour of intense concentration calculating exactly how much text had to go and which part of the text that would be. There was one major section which just summarised information on a website, so that was the prime candidate for the red pen. Another option should have been to remove the fancy layout on the first page, but the senior-most person in our company liked the fancy layout.

In another section, several paragraphs were slightly tangential, one quote had a main statement with several examples, and the last few paragraphs could be run together and summarised. I marked all that up, went to lunch, and sometime after lunch the next version of the layout came back and it fitted perfectly onto those two pages. I made sure that a small handful of colleagues knew. Now you know too, but as I haven’t told you the name of my company or the magazine in question, you won’t be able to get a copy and gaze in awe at the masterly sub-editing.


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