Substantive Editing

Substantive editing improves the overall quality of your writing by making sure it is not only technically correct, but also lucid and effective for your purposes.  It addresses things like:

  • overall organization/structure
  • paragraph structure and transitions
  • introduction and conclusion
  • sentence structure, word choice, and phrasing
  • consistency and appropriateness of tone, pace, and style
  • the use of clichés and jargon, awkward or ambiguous language, repetition, and verbosity
  • accuracy of technical terms (spelling and usage)
  • accuracy and consistency of labels and references to charts, tables, or figures
  • adherence to formal style rules and citation formats (based on the style you specify or that we agree upon, such as Chicago, AP, or your “house-style”)

For this task I will work closely with you to make your communication is clear, concise, rational, and compelling – while staying true to your own style and voice.  This means fully understanding your sensibility, your message, your purpose, and your target audience. I will ask lots of questions, take extensive notes, and give you explanations for many of the changes I recommend.

A few additional notes on substantive editing.

  • Most people seeking professional editing help need some level of substantive editing.
  • If English is not among your native or primary languages, you almost certainly need some substantive editing.
  • If “writing is not your forte,” you definitely need a substantive edit.
  • Professional writers need substantive editing too!  They sometimes do it themselves, but very often someone else has a strong editing hand.  Either way, they do need the edit, especially on the first draft.
  • The extent of editing needed varies greatly from project to project, so I usually provide a customized plan and pricing for this service.
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