Editing means revising written text to improve clarity, readability and overall flow, as well as making sure the grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax are all correct. It can also provide suggestions on the content of the document. After all, a second pair of eyes is always useful!
Editors often offer different levels of editing. Copy editing will focus on the language used, so will mostly focus on the spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax. The editor will also look at word usage, repetition, inconsistencies and use of jargon. They will most likely ask you when you need to submit your work to them and if your work needs to follow a particular style (such as Harvard, APA and so on). You should let them know if it needs to follow US or UK English, for example, or any other particular things you need, such as use of a formal, academic or business tone.
It is important to let your editor know what you need from them at the beginning of the process. This includes the level of editing you require, any particular style your document needs to follow and when you need to receive the edited document. You should also clarify with whoever you’re working with whether you want them to use track changes – a tool which allows you to see the changes that have been made to your document. You then have the option of accepting or rejecting those changes.
Substantive editing (also called content editing) is the most intensive form of editing. Here the structure, organization, style and presentation of your document will be looked at. If you ask for this, then the copy editing will also be done. Sections may be moved in your document, text cut from one part and added to another part, and things may be rewritten to provide better clarity.
Most editors will also edit any references or bibliography included in your work, but you should ask to ensure this will also be done. References and bibliographies can be hard to put together correctly, so it does help to have a second pair of eyes go over it.
If your documents contains any links to websites, most editors will check these to ensure it goes to the page you intended. Websites sometimes change their structure, layout, or even their address, so this can really help.
Most editors like to communicate with their clients during the editing process. This could be through emailing queries to you, phoning you or adding comments to the document. This lets you know the editor cares about the work they are doing, and also allows you to have input into the process, letting the editor know what you want.
The final stage of editing is proofreading, where someone ensures all the mistakes have been corrected. Proofreading essentially checks the editor or editors have done a good job. Most publishing houses have all their copy proofread after being edited by their staff because, as I said above, it helps to have a second pair of eyes go over things.
Editors usually use track changes when they edit a document. This lets you see what has been changed; you can then accept or decline the changes made.
Whichever type of editing you choose for your document, it is an important thing to have done. Even the most established author will have their work edited – I’m going to say it again! It always helps to have a second pair of eyes go over everything.
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