How Much Editing?

This is the question a lot of people ask in the early days: how much editing should I do?

My answer is: as little as possible.

So, have no fear, your editing tasks should be kept to a minimum.

Topping and Tailing

This is what I would consider a minimum level of editing:

  1. Remove everything before your first word
  2. Remove everything after your last word

That's what's called topping and tailing: simply making sure that the podcast starts and ends crisply.

This is required because normally there's a bit of silence between when you hit the record button and you start to speak. Or there might even be a few noises that need removed, for example the bangs and thuds as you press record, and then place your recorder down on the table.

Topping and tailing makes sure that your podcast starts just as you begin speaking, and stops straight away as you stop.

We'll show you how to do this in Audacity a little later. You'll also find that is a tool that guides you through topping and tailing really easily.

Joining Two Clips

Depending on your format, the minimum might also include joining two clips together. This includes interview shows, where you want to record a separate introduction, or feature shows which might include two or three different segments.


Normalisation is a slightly technical term for a pretty simple concept: making sure the episode is the right volume. If you record quite quiet, then normalisation will bring it up to the right volume. If you're too loud, it'll take the volume down a little.

This is to ensure that your show doesn't instantly have the listener reaching for their volume controls, or have them struggling to hear.

Any good editing package will offer a normalisation tool, and will generally help you out by suggesting a pretty good default. We'll also cover how to do this in Audacity in a later lesson.

And, if you chose to use a tool like to help with your production, then it does your normalisation for you, automatically. You don't need to worry about a thing.

Optional Editing Tasks

Everything else is optional. Seriously.

If it stands in the way of you releasing your show, then don't worry about about adding music, or sound effects. Also don't worry about editing out mistakes, and certainly not simple ums and ahs. For mistakes, just correct yourself, make light of it, and move on.

If the mistake it too big to leave in, then look at the cutting section of this unit – that'll show you how. But don't feel like it's required.

Okay, time to look at the how-to. Let's see how this editing is done.