The type of knowledge, skills, and practice editors need depends to some extent on the type of documents they edit and on the type of editing they perform. But here are seven “must haves” for any editor:

  1. Author–editor relationship: The connection between you and the editor should feel respectful and collaborative. (This one’s #1 for good reason.)
  2. Knowledge of the editing process: The editor should have a good understanding of the steps involved in editing your project, and preferably beyond that.
  3. Style guides: The editor should have access to a variety of style guides and know how to use them.
  4. Technology: The editor should be able to explain what program(s) will be used to edit your project—editing is almost always done on-screen—and how you will exchange versions of your document.
  5. Types of editing: The editor should be able to speak easily about the different types of editing (though not necessarily offer services in them all) and to describe what each type includes.
  6. Understanding of your needs: The editor should be able to recognize what type(s) of editing your project requires and either offer to edit your work or suggest you seek an editor that offers that type of editing.
  7. References: The editor should be prepared to provide you with references, preferably from clients with similar projects.