Book Review: The Editor’s Handbook, 3rd Edition

Book Review: The Editor’s Handbook, 3rd Edition

Heather Carter-Templeton

Nurse Author & Editor, 2020, 30(1), 1

Few editorial roles are available within the nursing discipline. Likewise, nurses in practice or academe are not formally prepared for the role of nurse editor. And, while the pros and cons experienced by nursing editors have been explored, we still lack guidelines and requirements for those in the role of editor.4 Furthermore, nurse editors may work in seclusion, devoid of additional support from others.1

Thankfully, nursing editors do have a resource that can offer some direction. The Editor’s Handbook (3rd edition) is a helpful guide for those in the role of editor or who have aspirations to be an editor in the future. While the topics covered in the book are not specific to nursing editors, the examples and stories used throughout are from nursing journals and nursing editors, making it relevant to our discipline.

The Editor’s Handbook (3rd edition),  was written by two well-known editors, Leslie H. Nicoll and Peggy L. Chinn (2019) and is available in a bright and colorful electronic format. The book, published by Wolters Kluwer, is a useful source for those seeking guidance and sage advice about editing. It is a comprehensive text for new editors as well as those seasoned in the role. In fact, this resource was used as a framework and resource at the inaugural Extreme Education for Editors (E3) workshop held at the annual INANE conference in the summer of 2019.

The original version of The Editor’s Handbook was published in 2011, with Margaret Comerford Freda, at that time the editor of MCN: The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, at the helm as first author.2 Freda and Nicoll3 updated the book in the second edition four years later (2015). It was published just weeks after Dr. Freda’s death and served as a loving tribute to a nurse and editor who had given much to the profession. The newest edition came out in the summer of 2019.  The rapid evolution of changes in scholarly publication is evident when reviewing each text in succession. Additionally, the collection of texts offers information from experts serving in an editorial role for multiple decades. However, the newest edition offers an expansion of core ideas pertinent to editors, largely due to the many changes in the publication atmosphere. It is also more colorful, with the addition of “call-outs,” tips in boxes, illustrations, figures, and more. Personally, I think this is a huge addition to the book. These features make it much more visually engaging and appealing to the reader.

The Editor’s Handbook  contains 11 chapters (an expansion from 10 in the prior versions)  with detailed content to help editors manage and work within the world of editing. Topics covered include: history of editorship, managing manuscripts from start to finish, editorial boards, peer-reviewers, communication with authors, journal production, ethical issues, theme variations, bibliographic databases and indexing, publicity and editorial resources. Each chapter contains a conceptual outline to help anchor the reader. Further, you will find “Notes to Self”…these often contain questions challenging the reader to discover their thoughts on the topic at hand. Other call-outs in the chapters encourage readers to keep things in mind or offer special considerations. In addition, the text offers illustrations that help make sense of the scenarios or examples shared. These tips or special features offer practical information or advice to help editors. The call-outs called “Margaret’s Memory” were meaningful and touching. In these boxes, specific ideas or examples from Dr. Freda were shared. I thought it was a very nice way to remember the first author of the first two editions and commemorate her in this version.

Each chapter offers a thorough examination of the topic. The book covers the editorial process from submission of manuscripts to decisions provided to authors. Information about the aspects related to managing the content of a journal is knitted throughout the book. For instance, the stories and memories shared in each section provide real-life examples of how changes or circumstances specific to their journals pertain to the topic at hand. One example is that of Dr. Nicoll’s challenging experience with pursuing indexing for a Journal Impact Factor which she shared in Chapter 9, “Bibliographic Databases and Indexing.”

Images and figures are used throughout the text to help illustrate or further explain the topic. One example is that of tracking manuscripts. Several examples and even images of tracking boards are shared to explain different ways in which editors keep track of manuscript iterations and the correspondence that is associated with each. The authors share images to describe what might be considered a more manual process and that of an electronic management system. Authors also share information about the specific systems that publishers use.

The last chapter of the book offers a number of resources for editors, with descriptions and dates for various events, such as the annual INANE conference. Tips to help editors remain current in their knowledge are also shared.

The book also includes a Foreword by Susan Gennaro, RN, PhD, FAAN, who is the editor of the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. Margaret Freda was a mentor to Dr. Gennaro, and she shares some very personal memories of her early tenure at JNS—a time of confusion, questions, and wondering, “Am I doing this right?” Her recollections helped to make me, as a reader and novice editor, feel encouraged in my work. I appreciated this very personal opening to the book!

Nurse editors can use this text to compare their practices with that being suggested. If you are an editor, editorial board member, or peer reviewer, you should definitely have The Editor’s Handbook in your library as a resource to you in your work.  This text may also be useful to authors to gain insight into the world or editing and expectations of editors—it shares valuable information about what goes on “behind the scenes” to produce a scholarly journal on a regular basis. I think that authors can increase their publication success by having a more thorough understanding of the processes that begin once a manuscript has been submitted. Overall, I recommend The Editor’s Handbook, 3rd edition to those interested or involved in the world of scholarly publishing in nursing.

The Editor’s Handbook, 3rd edition, 2019, by Leslie H. Nicoll and Peggy L. Chinn. Published by Wolters Kluwer. eISBN: 9781975140236. Available in ebook format from Amazon (Kindle) and VitalSource (ePub).


  1. Freda, M. C., & Kearney, M. (2005). An international survey of nurse editors’ roles and practices. Journal of Nursing Scholarship: An Official Publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing / Sigma Theta Tau37(1), 87–94. Retrieved from
  2. Freda, M.C., & Nicoll, L.H. (2011). The Editor’s Handbook. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.
  3. Freda, M.C., & Nicoll, L.H. (2015). The Editor’s Handbook, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.
  4. Kearney, M. H., & Freda, M. C. (2006). “Voice of the profession:” Nurse editors as leaders. Nursing Outlook, 54(5), 263–267.

About the Author

Heather Carter-Templeton, PhD, RN, BC, is an Associate Professor in the Capstone College of Nursing at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. She is also the editor for the ANI Connection in CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing. Disclosure: The author received a copy of The Editor’s Handbook (3rd) as a participant in the E workshop held in Reno, NV, in August 2019.

2020 30 1 1 Carter-Templeton

Copyright 2020: The Author. May not be reproduced without permission.
Journal Complication Copyright 2020: John Wiley and Sons Ltd