What is editing?

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary says “edit” means to “prepare (something written) to be published or used: to make changes, correct mistakes, etc., in something written”. Synonyms published online by the same dictionary probably describe the editor’s role better; these include words like “perfecting”, “polishing”, “fact-checking”, “reworking”, “revising”, “abridging” and “touching up”.

There are levels of editing that overlap, and editors don’t always agree about what those levels comprise. A light touch is often called “proofreading”, when a professional wordsmith focuses exclusively on language mechanics such as grammar, punctuation, capitalisation and other fiddly bits. Mid-level editing is often referred to as “copy editing”. A copy-editing job can involve scrutiny of more complex issues such as inconsistency in content and incomplete thoughts. For example, if Sally’s eyes were blue in chapter one but were brown by chapter three, a copy editor would be looking for that type of error and would note it. Substantive editors dive even deeper into the text to flush out “big picture” structural issues, such as large chunks of text in the wrong place, which they may move to a better place in the manuscript. Often, substantive editors will continue to fulfill proofreading requirements while they search for the bigger bloopers.

Different editors handle different formats. Some work flexibly across file types including Microsoft Word, PDF and LaTeX conversions (e.g., Overleaf), and some stick to Word because that file type is used by most people. Many editors do not format papers because formatting can be frustrating, time-consuming and may involve mind games with invisible Word gremlins.

Here at First Person Editing Ltd., I work flexibly across file types. I offer formatting services, too. Depending on your specific requirements, document preparation, aka editing First Person style, can include attention to:

  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • capitalisation
  • spelling (especially where confusion exists between British and American spelling)
  • syntax
  • formatting (MS Word styles, headings, automatic tables of contents, lists of figures and tables),
  • pagination (page numbering, headers and footers),
  • formatting to specific style guides (e.g., APA 7th or an academic journal’s author guide),
  • suggestions about content,
  • suggestions about structure,
  • formatting reference lists and citations (including cross-referencing of citations with the list),
  • checking for consistency in content,
  • corrections to improve flow and clarity,
  • suggestions about adding impact,
  • image / graphics review,
  • target audience advice, and
  • reducing word counts (up to 50%)

There are just too many jobs I do to list here. So, if you don’t see what you need on this list, don’t worry! Simply ask me about how I can help with your next project.