Tips From the Experts: How to Set Up Your Editing Workspace
  • 6-minute read
  • 17th May 2023

Tips From the Experts: How to Set Up Your Editing Workspace

As a freelance editor, you’ll be spending a significant amount of your time in your workspace. Whether you’re editing manuscripts, communicating with clients, or managing your finances, having a well-organized and efficient workspace can make a huge difference in your productivity and your overall work satisfaction.

 For this post, we asked our most experienced editors how they have their workspaces set up and what office equipment they most recommend. From creating a comfortable, quiet environment to choosing the right equipment and software, we’ve got some great tips to share with you here.

Keep a Notepad While Editing

The three main things I need to accomplish my work are my laptop, a notepad, and a pen. I use the pen and notepad while I’m editing to note any issues with the text that I won’t be fixing right away so that I remember to address them before I submit the document. – Anonymous

A notepad is a must. Each document gets a fresh page [for me] to write down questions, notes for consistency, or unfamiliar acronyms. – Sarah C.

I’ve always got a flexible workspace, as it often changes day to day! It’s useful having a pen and paper for notes you can refer to (rather than having to rely solely on Word to take notes). – Dan T.

I can’t live without my MacBook, and I like my space super neat. I have a favorite pen for jotting down notes, and reusing scrap paper gives me great joy. – Debbie N.

Invest in a Big Monitor

I am in a place with plenty of natural light but no direct sunlight. I like to be able to see out the windows while I work. In terms of the office setup, I have an ultrawide screen, a desk that is the perfect height, an ergonomic chair and keyboard, and a footrest. When you spend so much time at your computer, it is vital to be properly positioned at all times. I also have a ball that I use instead of my chair for some of the time. This helps me vary my position throughout the day! My ultrawide screen has been the most amazing addition to my workspace. Two screens are great, but one enormous screen is better (okay, don’t get one so big that you have to turn your head to see the edges :D). It has saved me time and has definitely made a positive impact on my back pain. I would highly recommend it! – Hannah VdW

A big monitor. It’s much better for editing compared with a laptop. – Leslie H.

I use two connected screens and a wireless keyboard/mouse. I use an antique dressing table as my desk, and I love it. – Erin B.

I have a little desk in my living room with my laptop and a huge second monitor, which has been just the greatest thing ever. – Emily N.

Get a Good Chair

I have a small desk set up with a large second screen. [I recently] just picked up some great cushions for my chair. Back, bottom, and feet. Makes a huge difference. – Rowena R.

Having a comfortable and well-adjusted chair is a must, as is the height of the computer in relation to my eyes. I also need to have adequate lighting for the long hours of work. One new addition to my workspace is my trackpad, which has replaced my mouse. I’ve found it to be much more comfortable and a way to avoid wrist and shoulder pain. – Diane D.

My office chair is absolutely essential for my posture, and I use armbands to avoid repetitive strain issues. – Mel L.

Having started in an uncomfortable chair, which led to an achy back, I quickly realized that a comfortable workspace was essential to my productivity. I purchased an ergonomic office chair and a laptop desk to ensure my posture was correct. I work in a summer house at the end of my garden, where I can see all the trees and hear the birds, and I love it! – Louise M.

Take Care of Your Eyes

Simple desk and desktop computer with some personal items. Don’t face a sunny window (trust me). – Robert H.

I use a laptop and work wherever it’s quietest. I also use computer glasses to minimize glare from the screen and prevent migraines and eye strain. – Carol W.

Listen to Music Or Not?

I am quite itinerant, so my workspace frequently changes. But I always make sure I have the option of listening to certain kinds of music while working, which helps me – speaking personally – to concentrate. – Anonymous

A quiet space with my coffee mug works well for me. I need at least two monitors for editing to help me see the doc and resources at the same time. – Anonymous

Anything Else?

I have a timer set next to my computer to remind me to take breaks and a glass of water to hand. – Elisabeth M.

I love working on a large screen or two screens side by side so I can have plenty of reference materials (Google searches, style guides, etc.) easily available. Another must-have is an extremely large cup for equally large cups of tea: my favorite cup is almost as big as my head! I also love working while surrounded by things I find beautiful, so I usually work in my home library, surrounded by books and my collection of fossils, statues, and taxidermy butterflies. – Anonymous

The Two Types of Editors

“Get a comfy chair, try a standing desk, take care of your posture/back, etc., and get decent furniture.” – Adra A, Proofed Editor.

My workspace is always tidy but not clinically so. I have a comfortable office chair; I wouldn’t call it my “favorite” office equipment, but I find it really important as I’m spending long hours in front of my computer every day. My dog also has one of her beds (yes, she has more than one) near my desk, and spending a few minutes with her between projects helps me concentrate better when I get back to work. – Dora G.

My workspace is a dumpster fire most of the time. Get a comfy chair, try a standing desk, take care of your posture/back, etc., and get decent furniture. – Adra A.

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