Edit /’e-dǝt/ verb
➤ to prepare (something, such as literary material) for publication or public presentation
Editing is a lot more than just correcting typos. (Okay, it can just be correcting typos, but it’s usually a lot more.) Most authorities divide editing work into four different stages or levels: proofreading, copy editing, stylistic editing, and structural editing.
Proofreading is “examining material after layout or in its final format to correct errors in textual and visual elements.”
• Unlike the other stages, this sometimes is all about correcting typos and other straightforward grammatical errors. More commonly, though, it involves not only correcting errors but also pointing out inconsistencies, correcting obscure typographical and formatting errors, double-checking design elements, and a host of other tasks.
Copy Editing is “editing to ensure correctness, accuracy, consistency, and completeness.”
• This stage is about making sure that a piece of writing is grammatically, factually and mathematically correct and that it follows accepted stylistic conventions. It’s often further divided into light, medium, and heavy copy editing. A light copy edit can sometimes be all about correcting typos and other errors, but a medium or heavy copy edit almost always involves some level of rewriting and stylistic editing.
Stylistic Editing is “editing to clarify meaning, ensure coherence and flow, and refine the language.”
• This stage is about making sure that a piece of writing communicates its ideas as clearly as possible. It often involves changes to word choice, sentence structure, transitions, and paragraph division, as well as changes intended to avoid repetition or ambiguity. A stylistic edit is often done as part of a copy edit or structural edit.
Structural Editing is “assessing and shaping the material to improve its organization and content.”
• This stage is also known as substantive or (when it happens early in the writing process) developmental editing. It could be considered something akin to an in-depth, professional-level critique. For non-fiction, it involves evaluating the logic of argument, the selection of evidence, possible weaknesses or holes, and the text’s structure and organization. For fiction, it involves helping the author fully develop their characters, setting, plot, and focus. Either way, a structural edit is all about helping the author sharpen their ideas and convey them as strongly and convincingly as possible.
At (nearly) every stage, editing is a pretty subjective thing. Once we get past the nitty-gritty of spelling and grammar, the editor’s job is to point out aspects of your writing that (in their professional opinion) don’t work, and to give one or more suggestions as to how you can fix or improve them.
B+ Editing mostly offers stylistic and copy editing, though I have also done informal (but in-depth) critiquing for fiction. I will try to help you with any piece of writing you may have, and if I feel I’m not qualified for a job (if, say, it’s a highly technical scientific document), then I’ll do my best to direct you to someone who is.
I generally work in Microsoft Word, using the Track Changes feature so that you can see everything I have changed and decide whether to keep it. I am also familiar with LaTeX, the typesetting system of choice for many scientific and social scientific academic fields. When I make stylistic changes, I will add a comment to tell you exactly what I have done and why. When I feel that a text needs substantive revisions, I will add a comment to explain why and to suggest how you can approach them.
I specialize in academic editing, in particular for non-native speakers, and most of what I do involves correcting academic text (e.g., journal articles) for proper English grammar and style. I know most major academic styles. My specialty is the Chicago Manual of Style, but I also have a solid working knowledge of APA and MLA. I’ve also edited a great deal of fiction across a wide range of genres (fantasy, science fiction, crime fiction, historical fiction, and more), as well as commercial non-fiction like memoirs and self-help books—even poetry, a few times! And if I can’t help you myself, then I promise I will help you find someone who can!
So why not drop me a line and let me help make your writing shine?