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Edit Content

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Editing is an ongoing process. Depending on the skill of your writer, you may need to edit the rough drafts he gives you before you send them out for advisor review.

When you receive the final draft, it's time to edit the manuscript. Editing is more than making sure sentences have correct spelling and punctuation. It involves looking at the whole piece and making sure it all hangs together appropriately. It also involves revising for consistency of style and tone, and ensuring that material for children is grade-level appropriate. Some things to keep in mind about editing:

  • Less is more. If you have tons of copy, no matter how brilliant and necessary it may all seem to you, your reader is likely to avoid it. Pay close attention to word count. On a standard two-page spread, you should aim for no more than 1,000 to 1,100 words, and less if the audiences are children.
  • Content can be more than text. Graphic presentations may save space and be more effective. In general, the best illustrations provide additional content, not just decoration.
  • You can move things around. Refer to your original bookmap and think about the order of the sections. Do you want all your background essays up front or at the back? Do you want resources listed in each section or on a separate resources page? Do certain activities or chunks of copy belong in a different section?
  • Be flexible. Does one section deserve a larger page allocation? Do you need to cut from one section and write additional copy for another? The main point is not to be afraid to really work with the copy.

Your final manuscript should also include so-called front and back matter. This includes the following:

  • Front-cover copy, including the title (of both your series and the piece), a subtitle that describes the target audience (from something as simple as "Teacher's Guide" to the more specific "An Activity Guide for Second and Third Graders"), the airdate if appropriate, funder logos, and the PBS logo
  • Back-cover copy, including a return address and postage information if this is a self-mailer
  • Additional information that needs to go somewhere, such as credits; table of contents; letters to the user from the funder or producer; an introduction or how-to-use section (keep it short); resources (if not provided by the writer in the body of the guide); off-air taping information, etc.

Copyediting and Fact Checking

Once you think your manuscript is perfect, you need to send it to a copyeditor, whose sole job is to look for inconsistencies, grammatical errors, typos, etc. If you have a particular style you want the copyeditor to follow (such as the Chicago Manual of Style, Associated Press Stylebook, or an in-house style guide), let him know.

Depending on the content, you may also want to give portions to a fact checker. And always have someone test all Web addresses to make sure that they are still functional and there are no typos.

Once copyediting is complete and all the corrections have been entered, you are ready to take your project to design. One important note here: Your manuscript should be clean and contain as little formatting as possible. If you need to leave boldface in to make it clear what the headings are, that's fine, but remove tabs and other formatting, or you will end up paying your designer to do it for you.





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