In order to handle hundreds of manuscripts as expeditiously as possible, most large editorial offices have worked out systems that, though differing slightly, are essentially the same. When a manuscript is received, a record is made of it on a card or in a book, with the name and address of the author, the title and character of the contribution, and the time of its receipt. The same data are entered on a blank that is attached to the manuscript by a clip. On this blank are left spaces for comments by each of the editorial assistants who read and pass upon the article.
After these records have been made, the manuscript is given to the first editorial reader. He can determine by glancing at the first page or two whether or not the article is worth further consideration. Of the thousands of contributions of all kinds submitted, a considerable proportion are not in the least adapted to the periodical to which they have been sent. The first reader, accordingly, is scarcely more than a skilled sorter who separates the possible from the impossible. All manuscripts that are clearly unacceptable are turned over to a clerk to be returned with a rejection slip.
When an article appears to have merit, the first reader looks over it a second time and adds a brief comment, which he signs with his initials. The manuscript is then read and commented on by other editorial readers before it reaches the assistant editor. The best of the contributions are submitted to the editor for a final decision. By such a system every meritorious contribution is considered carefully by several critics before it is finally accepted or rejected. Moreover, the editor and the assistant editor have before them the comments of several readers with which to compare their own impressions.
In newspaper offices manuscripts are usually sorted by the assistant Sunday editor, or assistant magazine editor, and are finally accepted or rejected by the Sunday or magazine editor.
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