The Aesthetics of Editing

By Sara Hoffmann, Managing Editor

One of my favorite things about editing is the aesthetics of it. Sure, researching different subjects is interesting, and looking things up in the Chicago Manual of Style is (oddly) fun for me. But what I really love is choosing words so that a sentence has a certain flow and shaping text to give a book a sense of rhythm.

Whats the weather like today nonfiction series from Lerner I think my appreciation for the aesthetic side of editing is why I so enjoyed working on the What’s the Weather Like? series (cover pictured). The books in this series are short, so every word choice really matters. In that respect, editing these books was a little like working on poetry.

The manuscripts came in nice and clean, with reading-level requirements met. This meant we didn’t need to “level” the texts—or shorten sentences and simplify words to make sure the books wouldn’t overwhelm K–2 readers. We simply flowed the manuscripts into the layout, and that’s when the fun began! I reviewed each word to see how things were flowing, read texts out loud to myself in my office to make sure they would work as read-alouds (all the while risking stares from passersby who may have thought I was talking to myself), and looked over the beautiful photos and design that my amazing colleagues pulled together.

Being able to home in on elements that make a book a tight read is perhaps my favorite part of any project. That’s why, for this editor, having an entire series that allowed me to focus on fine-tuning equaled editorial bliss!