Text editing: a handbook for (language) students and professionals


This article was originally published on The Language Industry.

If you are a language professional working with the written word, you are likely to be producing or revising large amounts of written text on a daily basis — translations, subtitles, terminological records and study materials, for example. If your goal is to communicate effectively, even if you do not strictly earn your living with language work, text editing is a skill you might want to polish up.

Indeed, effective communication is what makes meaningful human interaction possible. Kris Van de Poel, W. A. M. Carstens and John Linnegar, a trio of seasoned linguists and language trainers, firmly believe this, which is why they teamed up to write Text editing. A handbook for students and practitioners.


The book is the product of a long-standing South Africa-Belgium collaboration; the authors come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds, each with a different approach to the subject matter, which makes for a balanced combination. Kris Van de Poel and W.A.M. Carstens, authors of the Afrikaans text editing handbook Teksredaksie, were joined by John Linnegar, their collaboration resulting in the publication of Text editing. All three bring into the equation more than 25 years’ expertise.

Kris Van de Poel is professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Her research interests lie in applying text editing to both academic and professional contexts.

W.A.M. Carstens is professor of Afrikaans linguistics and director of the School of Languages at North-West University, South Africa, and has carried out pioneering work on text linguistics.

John Linnegar is author, language trainer, copy editor and proofreader at McGillivray Linnegar Associates in Cape Town, South Africa.


The 600-page volume covers every aspect of the trade in 12 detailed chapters, aimed at both newcomers and experienced practitioners.

The first three chapters lay the theoretical foundations of the domain and define the text editor profile. Chapter four looks at the editing process, while chapter five explores the editor’s role as a project manager.

Chapters six to 10 focus on the intervention and improvement of specific documents, tackling elements like content, structure, wording, presentation and layout.

In the final chapter, a group of 11 editors is invited to analyse and polish a selection of texts. The book is completed by a list of supporting tools and resources, five appendices focusing on varieties of English and an extensive bibliography.

Text editing is a comprehensive reference manual on writing clearer and more effective texts. It aims to raise awareness about the complex craft of text editing, while defining the professional profile of a skilled editor. In the language industry, text editors often deploy a broad range of cross-segment competences: they can be writers and technical communicators, teachers and language trainers, cultural experts and proofreaders, all at the same time.

“This is a big and ambitious book”, writes Nancy Boston, member of the UK-based Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). “The authors are to be commended for their valiant attempt to synthesise such a wide range of topics into one volume, and it is well worth dipping into”.

The book is published by ASP Editions (Brussels, Belgium) and is available in English.

What about you? Are you already a proficient text editor? Is text editing important for your profession?

ISBN: 9789057181146

More information on ASP Editions and the book can be found here: http://www.aspeditions.be/nl-be/book/TEXTED855E/text-editing-a-handbook-for-students-and-practitioners-kris-van-de-poel-wam-carstens-john-linnegar.htm

A review by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders is available on the following link: http://www.sfep.org.uk/resources/book-reviews/editorial-guides/text-editing-a-handbook-for-students-and-practitioners

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG), a South African body based in Johannesburg, has also published an article on the book: http://www.editors.org.za/NewsArticle.aspx?id=17

A short interview with authors Kris Van de Poel and John Linnegar can be found on the Belgian English Language Teachers Association (BELTA) website: http://www.beltabelgium.com/belta-day-2014-meet-the-speakers-kris-van-de-poel-john-linnegar