Books -- Editing for Clear Communication by Thom Lieb

Article excerpt

* Lieb, Thom (1996). Editing for Clear Communication. Madison, Wis.: Brown & Benchmark Publishers. 442 pp. Spiral-bound paperback, $45.55.

Editing for Clear Communication takes a broad approach to editing by integrating the "macro" aspects of editing with the "micro," while emphasizing editing for all kinds of print media, such as newspapers, newsletters, and magazines. The book offers an introduction to page design, photo editing, and graphics, and a rare chapter on editing for electronic publications.

This book attempts to overcome the challenge faced by every editing instructor: Do I start with the big picture and teach content editing first, or do I begin with the basics of grammar, usage, and style? The book covers them in tandem.

Most editing textbooks are set up in a linear fashion. First there's an overview of editing today, then traditional editing skills, such as grammar, punctuation, wordiness, attribution, usage, style, and so on. Editing for meaning, organization, accuracy, libel, and ethics usually comes later. But in the actual process of editing, we usually edit for content, fixing any glaring errors along the way, then polish a story and present it.

Lieb's book tackles the problems by dividing each chapter into three parts:

1. A main part that is a discussion of a macro aspect (tailoring stories to your readers; editing for holes in stories and for misleading information; editing for accuracy, legal and ethical issues, and sensitivity), with exercises that follow each discussion;

2. Editor's Corner, in which a worker, editor, designer, or publisher discusses the importance of the topic in his or her daily work;

3. A section called Grammar School that covers the micro aspects, such as spelling, style, grammar, punctuation, attribution, wordiness, clarity, and usage. …