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So you want to be a medical editor?

by Olga Sushinsky

AMA Manual of StyleIf you’ve ever thought about pursuing a career in medical editing, you might want to familiarize yourself with the specifics of the industry. At first, it may appear daunting, but learning this craft is perfectly doable with a little help from print and online resources, such as medical dictionaries and industry-specific style guides. If you do come from a science background, the odds of success are in your favour, but if not, you can still master medical editing. Regardless of your level of expertise, it is important to have these resources on hand.

The American Medical Association’s AMA Manual of Style 

Most likely, you will be provided with log-in access to the AMA website when you rece­­ive a medical editing gig. However, it’s also a good idea to invest in a physical copy of the AMA Manual of Style if you plan to edit medical documents long-term. It is so much easier to look up the treatment of terms, grammar points, and other peculiarities of medical writing in the physical book. The price for the book is on the higher end, but this investment might be worthwhile if you hope to make a career in medical editing. If you cannot afford the book, you can still find a few free resources on medical editing online.  The School of Pharmacy at Concordia University Wisconsin provides a document on citing references according to AMA style.


Editor for Life: Rehana Begg, editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine and REM—Resource Engineering & Maintenance, Annex Business Media

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Rehanna Begg


Rehana, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

A couple of decades ago, an internship turned into my first paying job as an editorial assistant at Homemakers Magazine, a women’s lifestyle magazine. I had the pleasure of working with a group of brilliant women who inspired me to change course from being an aspiring news reporter to pursuing a career in magazine editing. I stayed on that course for about 10 years, working at Canadian Home Workshop and launching a freelance writer/editor career. As a freelancer, I was able to peddle my magazine journalism skills all the way to Cape Town, South Africa, where a stint at Best Life, a men’s lifestyle publication, allowed me to interview sources from the sandy beaches of Llandudno. The freelance experience strengthened my belief that journalism nurtures an insatiable curiosity and clued me into what I wanted to focus on in the next leg of my career. When I returned to Toronto in 2008, I decided to pursue a master of journalism degree as a way to foster my interest in business-to-business (B2B) publishing. But the program did not offer business reporting at the time and I had to find a role that would give me hands-on experience. I accepted a contract role as the editor at Benefits Canada, a B2B publication formerly owned by Rogers Media, which was an excellent inroad into the world of finance and institutional investments. From there, I was offered an opportunity at Annex Business Media, where I would edit a couple of maintenance and engineering publications. My role at Annex has been more of a content manager than magazine editor because my multi-platform portfolio includes managing the content of two magazines, two websites, and newsletters, as well as developing events such as webinars, round tables, and video production. It’s a busy desk, but I have still managed to complete an MBA with a project management specialization in my spare time. Staying relevant has been pivotal in ensuring personal satisfaction and career longevity in today’s content farm environment. (more…)

Editor for Life: Suzanne Sutherland, author and children’s books editor at HarperCollins in Canada

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Suzanne Sutherland

Suzanne, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’m incredibly fortunate to work with a roster of phenomenal authors as part of HarperCollins Canadian children’s program. Because our list is quite small, I’m able to take on an active role in each stage of a book’s development—from acquisition through to publication, working both with internationally bestselling authors as well as with first-time novelists. It’s not a bad gig at all! (more…)

Top events for editors: June to December 2016

By Olga Sushinsky

Top events for editors: June to December 2016

Are you an editor looking for opportunities to network with your fellow colleagues or potential clients? Perhaps you are at the beginning or middle of your editing career and are wondering about other options, such as business writing or indexing. No matter what your goals are, there are still plenty of events that you can attend this year.

Editors Canada national conference, Vancouver, BC, June 10–12

Anyone serious about embarking on a career in editing should attend the Editors Canada national conference at least once in their lifetime. Every year, the association organizes a conference devoted to editing work. Previous conference themes/topics have included editing and technology, global editing, and book indexing. This year’s conference will focus on the business side of editing. New freelancers will greatly benefit from this event, as sessions will cover such topics as finding and keeping clients, managing the business side of freelancing, and editing various media, from web communications to self-published books. Pre-conference seminars will include PDF editing, efficient document production, and editorial design basics. During the conference, you’ll have a chance to meet colleagues from across Canada, former classmates from your continuing education courses, and, of course, experienced editing professionals who you can connect with. (more…)

Freelancers, beware of scammers!

By Olga Sushinsky

Freelancers, beware of scammers!

Anyone who freelances must’ve encountered at least one fraudulent client/employer in their lifetime—and not necessarily through those “Make $100/hour from home” banners that pop up on legit websites every once in a while. Editors and non-editors alike can easily fall prey to less-obvious scams, ones that are so sophisticated that they might appear to be true. Before I give you some tips on how to spot this latter type of scam, let me share my story.

As a stay-at-home parent and freelancer, I always look for opportunities to work with different clients/employers. So, when I received an invitation on Upwork to submit a proposal for a non-editorial job, I decided to give it a try. After all, every experience counts. To make a long story short, I had an interview via Skype, received a job offer on the very same day, and had a training session the day after. Everything was going well. I was to work for a company located in the United Kingdom performing virtual assistant duties and receiving a yearly salary of US$56,400, which would roughly equal C$75,000, paid bi-weekly.

The situation couldn’t be any better! (more…)

The Nitpicker’s Nook: March’s linguistic links roundup

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

By Savanna Scott Leslie

The Nitpicker’s Nook: March’s linguistic links roundup

  • According to Michelle Falardeau-Ramsay of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, dyslexia affects one in six Canadians. Victor Widell, a programmer, set up a webpage that attempts to show what reading with dyslexia is like. (Geon)
  • UK schools are implementing new rules to keep students from overusing exclamation marks! But is this measure really necessary? George Elliott Clarke, Tom Howell, and Priscila Uppal weigh in on CBC Radio’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. (CBC)
  • One UK student was unhappy with another rule from his English teachers: don’t start sentences with and. He wrote a letter to children’s author Joanna Nadin, who shares some sound advice about grammatical rule breaking. (David Airey)
  • You’re likely familiar with gender-neutral pronouns in English and the push for more inclusive terms. Have you ever wondered how other languages accommodate gender neutrality and identities beyond or between masculine and feminine words? Angela Sterritt explores gender-neutral and non-binary words in Anishinaabemowin, Cree, Kanien’keha, and other Indigenous languages with Fallon Andy, the media-arts justice facilitator for the Native Youth Sexual Health Network from Couchiching First Nation. (The Globe and Mail)
  • How can prospective editors get their feet in the door now that entry-level positions expect so much professional experience? Rosemary Shipton shares some advice with Editors Canada. (Editors Weekly)
  • Have you ever found yourself yearning for the narrative melodrama of Greek mythology but was just not in the mood for the grandiose prose of yesteryear? Well, fret no more. Mallory Ortberg re-imagines Jason and the Argonauts in expletive-laden modern form as part of her “Dirtbags” series. (The Toast)
  • Emerging startups and established sole proprietorships alike both grapple with an important decision: choosing the right business name. Nancy Friedman shares her process for creating brand names with emotional appeal. (Fritinancy)

Savanna Scott Leslie is an editor and publishing consultant who recently moved from Toronto to Hamilton. She tweets @Savanna_SL.

This article was copy edited by Olga Sushinsky.