In the early days of my publishing career, I would fret endlessly about how much editorial intervention was appropriate when copyediting a manuscript. I would feel panic when faced with copy that was basically in pretty good shape and needed only a light edit: would it look as if I hadn’t bothered? The temptation to change for change’s sake was huge, and rigid adherence to a style guide was my mantra.

Years of accumulated insights have shown me that as long as the author’s voice is clear and factually correct, it should be heard – my job is to make the text effortless for the reader while making tactful and helpful comments to the author, highlighting anomalies and suggesting alternative phrasing.

These and other topics were in the mix during the Jam Session for Manuscript Editors (led by Peter J Olson, Freelance Manuscript Editing Coordinator for the JAMA Network) – a discussion of the practical aspects of editing medical manuscripts held during the Council of Science Editors 2024 annual meeting. Read the full report in ‘Science Editor’ at: