Editing a newsletter or magazine

Many businesses or organisations decided to publish a newsletter and launch enthusiastically into issue 1 as their first and last effort. Maintaining periodical production is like keeping a train or heavy lorry moving: it takes a tremendous amount of effort at first, but as long as you keep it moving it will roll along almost effortlessly. The danger is in letting it stop; then you have to start it moving all over again.

Over the years, I’ve edited newsletters and magazines for companies, business organisations and voluntary groups, and the above applies to all of them.

How do you attract people’s interest and participation? Obviously, producing a publication that is worth reading is important, but I also try to reach out to every area of the company or organisation to represent their interests. The result is that people start to send you contributions or suggest ideas for articles voluntarily.

I’m editing a magazine at the moment and have received a variety of articles ranging from the interesting to the ones where I’ve politely suggested some improvements to the writer. While not everyone is a natural writer, nobody likes to be told that their contribution is too poor to publish, and it’s surprising how some positive suggestions can result in an improved article the next time.

I really enjoy editing magazines because of the enjoyment they can give both to contributors and readers. It’s worth putting in the effort to maintain the momentum and keep interest alive.

Robert Zarywacz

It’s wrong! I should have checked it.

A company spends thousands of pounds on producing a magazine: writers research topics and interview subjects; photographers take breathtaking photographs; illustrators create stunning pictures; and designers produce wonderful page-layouts.

A day before going to print, someone asks if anyone has proofread it. No. We’d better find a proofreader – quick!

Often, there is so much focus on making publications look good that the content itself is forgotten. It’s only when someone realises that errors cannot be corrected when a document has been printed that proofreading becomes important.

Is this unusual? Unfortunately, no.

Is proofreading expensive? Not when you think of the thousands of pounds spent on writing, designing and printing a magazine, newsletter or brochure – the cost is likely to be a hundred or two at the most.

Does proofreading take long? A magazine or newsletter of up to 20 pages can be proofread and checked in one day. Obviously, it’s better to build proofreading into the production schedule, just like any other activity.

What are all the proofreading symbols? These are rarely used, as most commercial proofreading is undertaken using the ‘track changes’ facility in Microsoft Word or the comments facilities in Adobe Acrobat. Files can be sent to a proofreader and returned by email. Modern proofreaders are as hi-tech as any other industry.

Isn’t it an unnecessary cost? How would you feel if, instead of being praised for your marvellous magazine, you only receive comments on all the mistakes?

Proofreading is as necessary today as it has ever been so that your magazines and newsletters not only look good, but read well too.

Robert Zarywacz

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