What editors do
As your editor, I can:
- act as an impartial first reader
- structure your documents logically
- help use illustrations to advantage
- remove ambiguity and clarify your meaning
- correct grammar and spelling
- simplify obscure language
- review bureaucratic, technical or specialist jargon
- help you get straight to the point
- ensure consistency in style and language
- help you manage large projects
- make your work more appealing to an audience
What does substantive or structural editing involve?
Substantive or structural editing is not about rewriting a manuscript or document in an editor's words but involves working closely with you to clarify your intention. It assists with correcting and improving the work to meet the both the audience's needs and the publisher's or company's editorial style.
As clear communication is the aim of writing, at this stage I check whether everything has been done to make your piece attractive to the audience. On the first read-through of your manuscript or document I take an overview of the piece. I look at the structure and tone, considering the audience and purpose of the document. After reading the manuscript a second time, I will make more detailed notes which will form the basis of my report. A substantive edit does not involve checking for punctuation, spelling or grammar as these happen during copyediting.
Notes are often made on the manuscript itself via Microsoft Word's Track Changes comment boxes, while its strengths and weaknesses are highlighted in a report to you. This report is for making suggestions for improvement, which you then can decide to carry out or not. I do not make the changes for you, but I can provide you with an example of what your manuscript could look like with the structural changes in place. This makes it easier for you see the overall vision for your manuscript. If you wish, I then collaborate with you to make the changes you select.
How does copyediting work?
Copyediting aims to achieve accuracy, clarity and consistency in a document. It does not involve significant rewriting, changing the authorial voice or modifying text for a specific audience - these belong to a substantive edit. It aims for copy that is error-free and as clear and lively as possible within its context.
I will look for two types of error:
- Inaccuracies: incorrect figures, illogical statements, wrong names and internal inconsistencies.
- Language errors: grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage.
However, I will not act as your researcher and the responsibility for the accuracy of your work remains with you. If I have a query, I will note it for you to consider.
I can copyedit on screen or on hard copy, as you prefer. You can either post a hard-copy version or email an electronic version of your document to me. I will print it and mark up the copy using standard proofreading.
When I copyedit on screen, I use Microsoft Word's Track Changes. This means that every change I make is 'tracked', and all suggestions or queries are inserted as comments in the margin using the Track Changes comments feature. When I have finished copyediting your document, I will return it to you as a tracked-changes (TC) version showing all of the suggested changes and my comments and queries.
This gives you complete control over the final version of your document. You can review the tracked-changes version, accepting or rejecting each individual change and reading my comments and/or queries in the margin, again choosing whether to accept my suggestions.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is the final quality-control stage of producing a document. I will look for errors and make sure the copy is consistent, both internally and in terms of the overall style guide of your organisation, university or publisher. To do this, I need access to the style guide that is applicable to your work.
If your document requires a medium or heavy copyedit, I might recommend you return the document to me for proofreading after you have reviewed and implemented the changes and suggestions. This is because the copy will now be clean enough to make any remaining errors stand out. It is also very easy to introduce new errors while you are correcting old ones.
Proofreading should always be your last step before a document is published online, handed in for assessment, submitted for a job application, or otherwise shared with its intended audience.