Mar 12

Procedure for Conducting A Substantive Edit

(Courtesy of Dr. Palmer’s Technical Editing handout)

BEFORE accepting the editing task, ask the author

  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the purpose of the document? What information leading to what action?
  • What is the time frame for completing the task?
  • What type or level of edit is desired?
  • What type of compensation, if any, will you receive?

AFTER accepting a substantive editing task,

  1. Ask the author about corporate policy guidelines, other documents that might need to be incorporated into the one you are editing, ethical issues you should be aware of, and the context of use.
  2. Complete an ethical analysis based on the document’s audience and purpose.
  3. Conduct an organizational edit: briefly look over the document, outline the existing document, discern the existing structure, determine if the structure is appropriate for the audience and intended action (is more or less information needed? if structure is not appropriate, develop a revised outline), and review the revised outline.
  4. Analyze the content based on the document’s audience and purpose: review the text to make certain the information is presented in the most usable form, suggest specific shifts from text to tables/charts (and vice versa), and apply the three techniques for clarifying a document’s organization to the reader. The three techniques are verbal devices, visual devices, and page or screen design.
  5. Write author queries: to suggest significant deletions or additions in the content quality and quantity, to recommend structural changes, to question inappropriate ethical statements, and to suggest changes to enhance reader understanding.