Content or substantive edits

I promised to briefly chat about content editing or what is sometimes called substantive editing.

Let’s be clear what a copy edit is about. It involves:

  1. Applying standard English norms
  2. Using an academic writing style
  3. Incorporating house styles
  4. Accommodating individual preferences where possible
  5. Checking the formatting
  6. Crosschecks if whole document included
  7. Achieving consistency across document

So what is a content edit? Eventually it will include all of the above. But first there are hours of work by both the editor and student.

Here is what an editor will do.

  1. Read the whole document, usually a chapter or proposal. Unusual to engage in content edits at the dissertation stage.
  2. Identify any content gaps that need researching and/or clarifying.
  3. Remap the basic structure of the writing so that the research flows and makes sense.
  4. The student will now be fully able to continue with refocusing the writing.
  5. The above may be a series of steps.
  6. The important part is that the student will do the work and not the editor. The editor will merely guide.
  7. This process is useful when really stuck or the process with the advisor is not working.
  8. The copy edit step will be the final edit where the final consistency and language and formatting concerns will be ironed out.

What students must be aware of is that the timeline is not cast in stone. It needs a slow methodical approach. Be prepared for some straight talk from the content editor. No time for delicate feelings. If you want the process to work, do the work, walk your talk, sweat the big stuff. Usually best done with your advisor’s blessing. And of course be prepared to pay more.

Do you know anyone in need of a good edit? Simply use the ShareThis button below to email or post.