The transmittal note can be quite simple, all the way to comprehensive. It’s the note that the copy editor (or any editor) sends to the project manager when she is done with her task. If you work in-house, this might still be done as a face-to-face meeting. When I have delicate comments to make or complex issues to explain, I make sure we talk by telephone and follow up with memo.
The simple transmittal note says “here are the files [named] with the task [x] complete.”
The more detailed transmittal note explains global issues with the file, outstanding queries, and next steps.
What to Say in a Transmittal Note
The transmittal note should explain:
- what is included
- what they should do with the file
- any global or outstanding issues
- what happens next
At minimum, name the files that are attached. These typically include the
- figures manuscript
- style guide (updated)
Global issues can include special characters — “Watch out for the multiplication symbol” — or style choices — “Character’s name most often spelled as ‘Adrienne’.” They might even be something “larger” such as “The town is usually given along with the name of the school. Added those that are missing.”
Explain any mark-up conventions. For example, “I suggested changes using tracked changes, and explained the related concern in a linked comment. Please accept each change or suggest an alternative for each.”
Even stating standard operating procedure can help the process: “Please accept or reject each change and address every query. Queries directed at you can be found by searching for AU:”
Include the next steps: “When you return this to me, I will clear the remaining queries and forward this to layout.”
When the file is at an earlier stage in development, it might be appropriate to include criticisms in the transmittal note. For example, “The point of view changes sometimes result in head hopping that is hard to follow. Consider restricting the narrative to one character.”
If you are editing under contract, be sure to thank them for the work and give an estimate for the forthcoming invoice: “This took about 10 hours; I will prepare the invoice later this week.”
Praise is a good thing to include in a transmittal note, especially if you are dealing directly with the author. “It is always fascinating to learn about your research.” Or: “This report is so visually appealing, it was an enticing read.” There are a few reasons to include praise: everyone is looking for praise and acceptance, you might genuinely feel like praising, the editor(s) might be the only ones who will ever read this work so closely, it might be the only praise they receive, and it helps to build a positive experience and association with the editing process.