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Appendix 2: Editing a Multi-Author Volume


- Planning

- Project organization

- Communicating with contributors

- Your role and responsibilities as editor

- Delivery to OUP

- Production and publication

The editor of a multi-author volume is the key figure in the planning, assembling, and production of the work and the first point of contact for all members of the OUP publishing team.

Preparing a multi-author work is a demanding role, and its smooth passage through publication depends on the editor’s ability to manage the writing and production processes efficiently.

Tip! Your OUP Editor will have worked on many multi-contributor volumes and can advise you on effective practice. Discuss plans and schedules as you go along.

The usual stages for editing a volume are:

  • planning;
  • project approved by OUP and contracted;
  • contributors commissioned (this may have been done before project approval);
  • contributors contracted by OUP;
  • drafts submitted to editor;
  • editing (and peer review);
  • final versions submitted to editor;
  • final editing;
  • submission to OUP;
  • production;
  • publication.

Tip! The exact split of responsibilities of the editor and the OUP Editor can differ between disciplines; please ensure that you and your editorial team are clear about your respective responsibilities from the outset.

The details that follow aim to support you in the successful and efficient production of the edited volume. Please do not hesitate to contact your OUP Editor if you require any clarification on any of the points that follow.


Tip! The best edited volumes are those that have a coherent and well-integrated feel throughout the volume, rather than just being a collection of semi-related chapters or sections. Keep this in mind throughout the process, from the initial planning to the final editing.

Careful planning and preparation are the key to a successfully edited volume.

  • Ensure that you have a clear idea of the topics that you want to cover, the readership that you are aiming at, and the overall format of the work before you commission your contributors.

Tip! Look at related OUP multi-contributor titles for guidance.

  • If there are several editors involved, determine the precise individual responsibilities at an early stage.
  • Set yourself firm deadlines for each stage of the project, and agree these with your OUP Editor. These should be slightly different from those issued to the contributors (you must include some extra time as contingency for inevitable late delivery, extra editing required, and other unforeseen difficulties).


Material supplied for multi-contributor volumes must be original and not taken from previous published work. If an author wishes to adapt previous work, this must be agreed with your OUP Editor, and you should think carefully about whether it is suitable for your work. If it is agreed, the contributor must obtain permission from the original publisher, and the original source must be clearly stated in your text. Contributors to multi-contributor volumes usually assign their copyright to OUP, unless exempt (for example, NIH or US government employees).

Project organization

Create a thorough system for tracking your chapters and reporting on progress to your OUP Editor. You could include things such as:

  • chapter and author contact details;
  • which editor of a team is responsible for each chapter;
  • delivery dates (contracted, current estimate, and actual);
  • chapter specifications; both contracted and then actual (word count, number of figures, appendices, number of references, British/US language used, and so on);
  • chapter reviewer details;
  • additional notes and correspondence.

Your OUP Editor can provide tracking spreadsheet templates if needed.

Tip! With a lot of material in circulation, it is very important to think carefully about organization and document management. Keep all versions of submitted material, but use a clear system for naming files to avoid confusion. File-sharing software or websites may be useful.

Communicating with contributors

The more that you can do to encourage contributors to supply their chapters in the correct format, the less you will need to do to finalize the manuscript for OUP. Following the guidelines below will mean less stress for you and help to ensure a smooth, efficient production process.

Ensure that all contributors:

  • receive and are following OUP's Instructions for Authors;
  • receive a detailed table of contents at an early stage so that they all have a clear idea of the overall project and can avoid overlapping content with
  • other chapters;
  • are informed about changes and developments during the process;
  • have a clear set of deliverables that match Contract specifications before they start writing; instructions you should consider giving them may include:
    • word count
    • heading structure
    • number and type of illustrations
    • whether colour can be used
    • use of highlighting (bold, italics)
    • referencing system
    • special features to be used (for example, boxes)
    • any biographies and abstracts
    • keywords for the index
    • deadlines for delivery
  • receive guidance on any aspects of style, language, spelling and punctuation (British or US), form, and use of terminology;
  • know how to submit their text to you; OUP may be able to help with file-sharing systems if you do not want to use email;
  • are aware that they are required to clear permission to use third-party material; copyright clearance letters must be supplied with the final manuscript submission to OUP; see Copyright Permissions for further details.

Tip! A PDF file of a published sample chapter that has a similar set of parameters can be a useful guide for contributors (please ask your OUP Editor for suggestions).

You may also wish to consider:

  • sending completed chapters to all contributors; encouraging contributors to review other chapters can further help to create an integrated work, and can encourage them to cross-reference between chapters;
  • asking authors for any additional material such as biographies, abstracts, or index terms at an early stage; it will save time later if authors provide these details with their submissions.

Your role and responsibilities as editor

Writing, reviewing, and editing phase

Your responsibilities include:

  • setting realistic contributor deadlines with contingency to enable you to meet the schedule agreed with your OUP Editor;
  • sending contributors deadline reminders and promptly chasing any overdue copy; your OUP Editor may be able to help to chase particularly overdue material;
  • recommissioning if an author defaults, in consultation with your OUP Editor, who may need to approve new authors and cancel the Contract with the defaulting author;
  • ensuring that the chapters or sections cover the necessary ground and are accurate and well written;
  • checking that all chapters meet the contractual requirements (especially length), and working with the contributors to revise chapters if they do not;
  • editing all content for writing style and adherence to the guidelines, so as to build a well-integrated and consistent work.

Tip! Stressing deadlines is particularly important when you are relying on multiple authors; projects can be delayed significantly by one author, allowing other contributions to become outdated and momentum to be lost.

You should also consider:

  • sending each chapter to one or more reviewers; in some disciplines reviewers are external to the project but in others contributors are used in the review process (this can facilitate cross-referencing and integration between chapters); if in doubt, check with your OUP Editor;
  • compiling a list of abbreviations for bibliographical references, institutional names, or other entities that will occur frequently;
  • writing or commissioning additional material such as a preface or foreword, introductions to sections, or summaries to integrate the material;
  • adding cross-referencing between chapters or sections;
  • reviewing your ideas for front and end matter with your OUP Editor, agreeing on the sections to be included, and deciding who will be responsible for producing them; agree at an early stage who will be listed in the volume and how.

Tip! Remember to monitor the length of each chapter as drafts are submitted, you may need to remind contributors of the importance of staying within their agreed length along the way.

Delivery to OUP

Unless otherwise agreed with your OUP Editor, it is the editor’s responsibility to collate all material and submit to OUP as a final, complete package.

Tip! Follow the guidelines and complete the Manuscript Submission Checklist that will be supplied by your OUP Editor.

At submission, agree with your OUP Editor whether:

  • any variation in British or US English between chapters should be made consistent;
  • referencing styles should be changed for consistency.

Production and publication

The production of an edited volume follows the same process as that discussed in Welcome to OUP. Unless otherwise agreed, you are responsible for:

  • being the conduit for all queries and corrections;
  • checking the copy-edited files (if required);
  • sending each contributor the typeset PDF proof of his or her contribution, and ensuring corrected proofs are returned to you promptly;
  • collating contributors’ corrections onto a single set of proofs, which becomes the master;
  • notifying the Production Editor immediately of any changes to contributor affiliations during the production phase;
  • preparing the index (your Contract will tell you if you are responsible for this).

Tip! Please inform your OUP Editor of any changes to contributor contact details during the process, so that any gratis copies or payments agreed at contract stage are sent to the correct address.