Over the years, I’ve often found that editing for young adult readers results in and easy-to-follow pattern and language that can also be read, understood, and processed by adult readers and general audiences. The attention to attributes applied by our team at the-freelance-editor—vocabulary, grammar, logic, and presentation—are basically the same used for most readers.
While our team can, and does, edit all kinds of publications for all sorts of audiences—from early-reader materials to doctoral theses—when I, personally, have my choice of materials to edit, I always favor editing books, magazines and other periodicals, websites, and information for the young adult, middle-grade, teen-aged reader.
Combine this preference with my passion for history or historical fiction, and I’m at my peak of performance and excitement! But that’s commentary for another section.
What many people don’t always take into consideration is that the young adult audience actually includes readers who have challenges of one sort or another, readers transitioning from second languages, and readers who just want to skim materials in a superficial way, as well as general adult readers.
That information is arguable, of course—and often is argued—but most studies conclude that the “average” reader reads, or at least prefers to read, information at about an eighth-grade level. (In addition, some, though not all, studies subdivide that figure and deduce that the so-called average reader can only comprehend, or process, information at a fifth-grade level.)
Regardless, I’ve found that editing for young adult readers results in language that can be read, understood, and processed by nearly any general audience—and can do so without insulting or embarrassing or “looking down on” the average reader no matter what his or her age.
Why is editing to a young adult audience different—or is it?
Much of the information that is readily available to anyone these days is often sloppily written, unfocused, only minimally logical, full of jargon and specialized terminology or slang, and riddled with assumptions. Think about the variety of articles, explanations, instructions, applications, survey questions, web pages, and other text (even mainstream magazines and “professionally” published books) that you’ve read over the past few days.
Now, think about how many times you found yourself stumbling over some kind of silly mistake in the middle of the text: a misspelled word, a misplaced comma or capital letter, a word used in the wrong way, an incomplete sentence that didn’t make sense, an illogical argument . . . the list could be endless. But didn’t that mistake interrupt the message, or at least your understanding of the message? If nothing else, didn’t you begin to wonder about the validity and reliability of that text?
When editing materials for young adults, team members at the-freelance-editor look specifically for vocabulary, grammar, logic, and presentation—to make sure we are teaching young readers what we should be practicing. But the skills we apply to these publications are really the same skills we use when preparing materials for general adult readers. For the most part, and in general, we do not believe a difference should exist. We provide the same plain old writing assistance and editorial guidance no matter what sort of project we’re working on with you. Our attentions focus on the following three general beliefs:
1 Vocabulary and grammar are central to relaying information;
Everyone “knows” that editors check spelling and punctuation and grammar, but many modern writing programs can make that same claim. Vocabulary is where human editors and computers start to deviate: computers still cannot determine the correct form of to, too, or two or which there, they’re, or their is correct in all situations; and, just last week, I got into an argument with a computer about where to split a word with a hyphen! Without further argument, I still like to think that human editors are superior in the successful communication of information.
2 But, logical arrangement and reading level and readability should be central, as well—
Just as using appropriate vocabulary and correct grammar are the starting points for relaying information, applying a logical arrangement to ideas and using an appropriate reading level (which refers not just to the use of easy words but more to the complexity of ideas and the structure of presentation), together, ensure readability and continue the successful presentation of information. For projects in which the primary concern is getting a point across (which is normally the objective of all projects), making sure words and ideas are successfully presented, so they can be understood, should be a central focus.
3 And, presentation, or instructional design, is the final touch.
And, no, instructional design is not just a division within traditional design. Instructional design is the continuation of logical arrangement: how information is organized and sequenced, in the flow of text and in the final document. Think about directions, guidebooks, procedure manuals, for example—these sorts of publications have to follow established instructional design techniques. (Or, as is frequently the case, headaches, literally and figuratively, are the result!) I use established techniques to ensure your words are easily read and understood while still sounding polished and professional.
So, are you ready to get together?
With the time and caution you have no doubt already invested in your project, don’t make the mistake of publishing without consulting an independent, professional, freelance editor. Should you happen to choose me, we will work together to make certain your information is helpful, interesting, and educational—your readers won’t know what hit them!
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them say what they want to say to the audience they want to reach.
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