Craig Smith

Interview with Craig Smith on proofreading, editing, and tips for correcting your own writing

Craig Smith from CRS Editorial came on my podcast to talk about his new business, the difference between a podcaster and an editor, and some tips for when you’re checking your own work. You can listen to our conversation on my English with Kirsty site, or you can read a text version of Craig’s answers below.

Can you tell us something about yourself?

Hi. I’m Craig Smith from CRS Editorial. I am an editor, proofreader, copywriter and journalist with over 20 years’ experience of working across many formats with different-sized organisations and for a wide range of target audiences.

With near enough my whole career spent in the publishing sector, I have edited and proofread work for a wide range of clients. In addition to editing and proofreading, I am also a proficient writer having written for, and being the editor of, a membership health and fitness publication and the UK’s leading sports coaching magazine. I am also a blog writer having completed such work for several organisations.

I am the proud proofreader of the 2020 edition of Safe Practice in Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity – a recommended resource for all schools delivering these activities on the national curriculum. My most recent work involved proofreading a fantasy fiction novel.

Key work has been completed on behalf of the NHS, multiple national governing bodies, and for local and national media. Throughout my 20+ years in the industry I have written, edited and proofread hundreds of items, ranging from one-page marketing flyers, journals, annual reviews, all the way through to 400-page resources, with an ability to tailor my skills for both print and digital format.

What’s one thing that you have learned as someone who set up their own business?

I would say I learnt a lot of things going from full-time employment to setting up my own business, but the main point would have to be trusting my instinct. I knew I had the foundations in place as a qualified editor, proofreader and copywriter, so once I had researched what was required to go solo, I thought the time was right and so I took the plunge in October 2020. I should add too, how supportive people were and continue to be.

Can you explain the key differences between proofreading and editing?

Firstly, I would say the edit can take on a few forms. Initially, there is the ‘copy edit’ or the ‘content edit’.

Copy editing involves editing fresh from the source (so, the author). The purpose here is to check typos, basic grammar, inconsistencies, style (is there a house or a preferred style?), structure and to raise editorial queries relating to sense, references, abbreviations and heading levels. Minor suggestions are also highlighted at this stage.

Content editing includes elements of crossover with a copy edit, though this stage delves deeper into the editorial process. It can include restructuring, and conducting research into queries concerning references and abbreviations. A content edit can also initiate suggestions to the author for potential rewriting, if required.

Both copy editing and content editing do not necessarily require a subject area background. Although this may be of benefit, the ultimate job of the editor is to see things from the reader’s perspective, breaking things down and ensuring clarity of message.

A proofreader will act as a second pair of eyes and will read through the content, which has most likely by this stage been designed if it is for publication. The proofreader will check for consistency and layout. If requested to do so, a proofreader can also perform a ‘proof check’ against the editor’s file to ensure everything the editor submitted to the designer has been included.

I think it is important to stress that the proofreader and the editor are separate people, as fresh eyes to the project can highlight new things. Take a published book, for example (it doesn’t matter whether it is printed or digital). The editor will edit the content before it goes to a designer. The proofreader will view the document after it has been designed.

The reason for this? We are all human and mistakes can creep in at the design stage, or it may be the editor missed something at the outset.

When you’re looking at other people’s writing, what are a couple of the biggest mistakes or problems that you come across?

I would say the overriding one is inconsistency. It may be of tense used, character names in novels, layout of a resource, page numbers being incorrect, or typos here and there.

I think the biggest tip I can give is to get someone else to look over your work. You may think you have everything correct, but the chances are you are too close to your work and therefore a fresh pair of eyes could highlight things you had not even considered. Everything written is produced for a target audience in mind. It is crucial that your work reaches this audience and resonates with them, otherwise, they will switch off. That is where an editor or a proofreader can add so much.

Where can we find you online?

You can visit visit my website, find me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Thanks Craig for sharing your story and your ideas with us.

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    10 questions that interviewers might be asking themselves during your job interview

    There’s plenty of information online about how to prepare for interviews, what you might be asked, what questions you can ask etc.

    Today I want to talk about something else – the questions that someone on the interview panel might be asking themselves – about you. They aren’t questions that the interviewer can ask you directly, but you can influence their perspective and the conclusions that they may draw about you by conveying the right answers without being asked.

    Interviews are not natural situations. Interviewers know that people are likely to be feeling nervous and it’s hard when you don’t know what is going to be asked of you. But you can pick up all kinds of other information from people based on how they behave and even what they don’t say, so think about the impression that you are going to make, and how you want the interviewer to respond to these 10 questions.

    1. Has this person prepared for the interview?

    This can cover all kinds of things. Did you do some research online about the company before you turned up? Did you make sure you knew where to come? Did you ask questions that showed that you’re interested in the job or the work of the company? If you were asked to prepare a presentation, how much thought went into it?

    2. Is he/she really interested in this position?

    This sets the candidate who is just looking for a job – and any job will do – apart from the candidate who is generally interested in bringing something specifically to the company and the position on offer.

    This ties in with the first question. Can you relate your experience to specifics in the new job role? If asked why you want the role, is the answer all about your climbing the career ladder/getting out of a job that you hate, or is there something specific about working for that particular company or doing that specific role that interests you?

    3. Do I want to work with him/her?

    You can’t know someone’s personal preferences, but if you can, try to let some of your personality show through as well. Try and remember to smile! Don’t try to be someone else, because it will be hard to keep that up indefinitely if you do get the job.In any case, they might like the real you a lot more than the persona you’re trying to be for the sake of the interview.

    4. Can this person back up the claims on their CV with real-life examples?

    It’s not good, but people do exaggerate things on their CVs and applications, and interviewers may want you to expand on what you’ve written, or be ready to give examples to show that you do really know what you’re talking about, and you have done the things that you claim to have done on your CV.

    Think about the things that may be relevant, and make sure that you feel comfortable talking about them,.

    5. Does this person have a can-do attitude?

    If you go into the interview complaining about your current boss, saying how bad the working conditions are, or not taking responsibility for things that were actually your fault, it doesn’t make the best impression.

    Similarly, if you come armed with a list of things that you definitely can’t or won’t do, such as the boring parts of the job, it doesn’t look good either!

    Of course there may be things that you genuinely can’t do, such as a lot of travelling or certain patterns of working hours, and if that’s a big part of the job, it may be a dealbreaker for you. But I’m talking more about people making demands and being too specific about their own shopping list of requirements or nice-to-have wishes before the job offer is even on the table.

    6. Is this person listening to me?

    It’s not just about the talking part. People who don’t listen to the question properly are rarely able to answer it well because they don’t know what’s being asked of them.

    It may be tempting to keep looking down at your notes while the other person is talking so that you can prepare what you’re going to say next, but it doesn’t convey the message that the other person has your attention.

    7. Is this person only out for what they can get?

    How much holiday will I have? When can I apply for a promotion? What other benefits will I get?

    There are legitimate questions about the benefits package, what the working day will be like, where the role will be based etc. But if you focus too much on what’s in it for you, and not enough on what you have to offer, you can come across as someone who is only interested in themselves. Such people rarely make good team players.

    8. Does this person want to learn?

    Don’t approach the interview with an attitude that says you already know it all. Be curious about the company, the projects, the future plans. If there are areas in which you’d like to improve your skills, show a willingness to develop and proactively seek out opportunities to learn. We should never stop learning.

    9. Is this person organised?

    Did you arrive late with details for the wrong job interview and with odd shoes on? Most people won’t do all of these things on the same day, but if you make a chaotic first impression, it’s hard to get rid of that. Try to give yourself some extra time before you set off, so you don’t arrive flustered, even if things don’t go to plan on your journey in.

    10. Does this person have what we’re looking for?

    Ultimately you won’t know this. You only have the job advert, the job description/person specification, and the information in the interview itself to go on. There may be other factors that you will never know about. So all you can really do is be the best representation of yourself that you can.

    Now is not the time to downplay your achievements or be overly modest. The only information that the interviewers have about you is the information in your application and what you tell them during the interview.

    If you’re talking about what you’ve done, don’t just say what you did, but explain how you added value/solved a problem/increased revenue/made life better for everyone!

    Be memorable in a good way. You need to stand out from the other candidates, so don’t just reel off a load of textbook answers because you think that’s what the interview panel wants to hear. Show that you care about your work and the people around you. Show that you take pride in what you do and that you would be an asset to the new team!

    At the end of the day, only they know whether you have what they’re looking for, but this is your chance to sell yourself – not in a pushy or fake way, but in a way that gives the interviewers a good idea of what kind of person you really are and what skills, knowledge, and experience you have to offer.

    Find out more

    If you’d like to know more about my interview preparation service, you can get in touch with me using my contact form. You can also use the form to sign up for my monthly newsletter.