Editing for International Clients

in Zone


For editing firms that provide for quite a few clients in other countries, a few considerations will make the process go more smoothly. Truth be told, e-mailing files back and forth to a client in Abu Dhabi isn’t really any different from e-mailing files back and forth with a client in Chicago. You need to be aware of time zone and schedule differences, be comfortable making international calls, and understand minor language differences.



Time zone differences

The last time I was asked if I could do a quick turnaround edit “Sunday night China time,” my first thought was, when will it be Sunday night in China? A quick search of gave me the answer. This site gives not only the time but also the date, which meant that I knew they were 13 hours ahead.



I find time zone differences are the most challenging aspect—and most incredible benefit—of working with international clients. For example, that client in China left work in the evening and came back the next day to an edited file, ready for his final review, just as I was heading to bed for the night.



As a book editor I collaborated with a designer in Australia, and, with that 16-hour time difference, we were able to pass rounds of final corrections back and forth around the clock, compressing the time frame for the final stages of production and getting the book to the printer that much sooner.

When communicating about deadlines with workers in other time zones—whether they are just one time zone away or a dozen—be very clear in all communications about exactly what the expectations are. Recap to the turnaround times in their time zone as well as in yours. For example, “we’ll return the file at 10am EST (4pm CET) on Tuesday.”




Don’t be surprised if offices in other countries are closed on holidays that aren’t on your radar, such as the multitude of Italian holidays honoring Catholic saints. Likewise, don’t assume that clients in other parts of the world will be aware that you don’t plan to work on July 4 or Thanksgiving. Bring it up casually a few days before so that they can plan around your absence. At the very least, set your out-of-office message on your e-mail to state that you are out of the office “for Independence Day.”



Calling abroad

E-mail makes international phone calls unnecessary in many instances. But when a conversation is called for, pick up the phone. To call abroad, dial 011 + country code + the phone number. To get the country code, check out or If you make a lot of international calls, try to set up a flat-rate long-distance plan that includes out-of-country calls. Otherwise, your phone bill will skyrocket ridiculously quick.



American vs. British spelling and punctuation

Although English is broadly used for business around the world, there are two systems of spelling and punctuation within English—American and British. An American editor might think that labour has an extra u, but a client overseas might not want us “fixing” what isn’t broken. Clients know whether they want programme or program, centre or center, organisation or organization. Be sure to ask which they prefer before you start the project, while your work hours overlap. You don’t want to realize you don’t know the answer to the question when it’s the middle of the night in Germany.



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Amy Paradysz has 2 articles online

Amy Paradysz is a Project Manager for Dragonfly, with 7 years experience with technical and proposal editing.


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Editing for International Clients

This article was published on 2011/05/06