Every industry and market has its jargon, its standard allusions, and its voice. For this reason alone, an editor does well to specialize; it sends a message that the editor is sympathetic to what the writer is trying to do and won’t undo their efforts.
Some industries are so specialized or regulated that it really does take special knowledge to edit in them effectively. For example, medical editors are more effective when they are comfortable with the terminology and know the overlying regulations in the industry. Editors working in educational fields do better when they understand learning theory, reading levels, and overlying guidelines writers are trying to address. The legal field requires us to maintain necessary linguistic distinctions. Product labels and materials for the financial markets need to adhere to industry regulations or the company that publishes it could face penalties.
How does an editor gain this knowledge? The president of BELS (Board of Editors in the Life Sciences) says they have to tap into the community. When editors want to work in the financial field, auditing the fundamental course in securities is their solid first step.
- Attend the conferences
- Join the association
- Take part in discussion forums
- Take classes
- Read their publications
Niches that Require Topic Knowledge
Because of the governing regulations that affect them, these niches require extra knowledge beyond the basic copyeditor’s toolbox:
- Medicine/ pharmacy
- Packaging/ labelling