Editing AdviceEditing, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2015

Why Professional Editing Matters


In this day and age of technology and the "faster is better" credo, good writing seems to have fallen by the wayside. You write texts and messages with abbreviations, incomplete sentences, and emoticons. Informal writing seems to have run rampant and become more acceptable. Yet, proper and effective formal writing has never been as integral to keeping up and excelling in this ultra-competitive world.

You know that writing is a difficult thing to do, even for professionals. Your stomach churns and you feel a sense of dread when a professor gives you a college essay to write, when your boss asks you to prepare a presentation at a meeting, or when you work on crafting the "perfect" cover letter for your dream job.

But now it is more important than ever to have good writing skills and well-written documents, whether they are for business, personal, non-profit, academic, or job search-related use. You need to present yourself in the best way possible—to avoid embarrassing mistakes, to get that job, to get into a top-rated school, to make an effective presentation at work, or to raise awareness and much-needed money for a charity cause.

What do editing and proofreading services entail?

There's more to editing and crafting a good paper than meets the eye. When a document is edited and proofread, the following corrections and modifications are made:

  • Fix spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and verb tense mistakes.
  • Improve sentence structure.
  • Adhere to particular style guide rules.
  • Enhance clarity and improve flow.
  • Reorganize paragraphs.
  • Fix awkward wording and find the perfect words.
  • Correct ESL mistakes.

The types of editing and the differences between them

How many types of editing are there? The simple answer to that question is two: editing and proofreading. But one can also argue that there are three main categories: editing, proofreading, and copyediting. Then there are the specialized subcategories, such as book manuscript and dissertation editing.

Editing is more comprehensive and substantive, and it focuses on the style, flow, and subject area of your document and may require specialization. Proofreading focuses on going over each line of text and making sure all punctuation marks are in the right places, and that there are no spelling and grammar mistakes.

Copyediting is not as widely-known; it is typically found in publishing, and may be done in addition to traditional editing and proofreading. It usually occurs before proofreading; the copyeditor checks for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, and looks at overall style issues and specific style guide adherence (e.g., Turabian, MLA, APA).

Can you do the editing yourself or do you need someone to help you?

You need a second pair of eyes to spot mistakes and typos, to clean up, polish, and improve your writing. You need an outsider's point of view because you are simply too close to your own text. There are typos, gaps, and awkward wording and structure that you won't even notice. Your writing or story may sound clear and error-free to you, but you may be incorrect.

You need a fresh perspective and point-of-view. Famous novelists and writers have resorted to some weird tricks to get this much-needed new perspective. Virginia Woolf allegedly wrote on an angled three-and-a-half-foot tall desk so she could read her work both up-close and at a distance. You don't need to go to such extremes; hiring a professional editor will also do the trick.

Why you can't find all of your own writing mistakes

It all boils down to science. As Mic's Eric Brodwin explains, there are two main reasons for this discrepancy:

This is your brain on writing

When you think creatively, you use different parts of the brain than when you think with more routine traditional tasks. Studies by radiologist Martin Lotze of the University of Greifswald in Germany have shown that your brain concentrates more on formulating and communicating complex ideas and thoughts, and not on less complicated, simpler areas of writing such as spelling and other typos. Psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies typos at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, states in Wired, When you're writing, you're trying to convey meaning. It's a very high-level task.

This is your brain on editing

You don't see typos in your own work. You see what you want to see. As Nick Stockton explains in Wired, The reason we don't see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads. You are too close to the text, you know what you have (or intended) to write, so you don't have a fresh perspective. Glaring omissions and mistakes escape your eyes. You think everything looks good in your document, but little do you know. This graphic demonstrates why it is difficult (if not impossible) to catch all of your own typos.

Examples of embarrassing mistakes today

Newspapers and other media often contain attention-garnering typos. Los Angeles Times writer Steve Harvey said in 2004, Over the years, readers have sent me ads with such spectacular malapropisms as 'Chip and Dale' furniture, 'Floor Shine' shoes, 'Wayne's Coating,' 'Chester Drawers' and 'Rod' Iron. (Translation: Chippendale, Florsheim, wainscoting, chest of drawers and wrought iron.)

Why editing is a big deal

To illustrate the importance of editing and the difficulty you face finding typos in writing (especially in your own), Danny Rubin created a quiz for NY Times readers. He inserted 14 errors into five articles. See how carefully you read and if you can find them all!

What professional editing can do for you

Editing can actually be just as important as the writing itself, and it can take more time than writing. Businesses, students, job seekers, novelists, college and grad school applicants, and others can all benefit from professional online editing services. Novelists often have only one shot at getting published; they need to make the most of their opportunity.

Business

In today's fast-paced and competitive business environment, you require professional solutions to create a strong corporate identity. The stakes are high in the workplace, in all forms of business communication—from financial reports and presentations, to emails and websites. Companies often have one chance to make a positive first impression. Spelling, grammatical and punctuation mistakes, awkward wording, and lack of clarity and proper structure can undermine and damage your professional reputation, credibility, and message. An incorrect abbreviation or missing or misplaced comma or apostrophe can cause miscommunication, confusion, and embarrassment. Poor writing style, typos, and omissions can reduce the look and sound of professionalism and turn off clients, potential investors, bosses, or co-workers.

Academic

An ever-increasing number of people are furthering their education these days. How can you make your essay stand out in the crowd when applying to college or grad school? Making the best possible first impression is necessary to stand out from the pack and to get admitted to your chosen school. Writing error-free and compelling college entrance essays will impress and gain the attention of admissions counselors.

A professional editor can polish your writing and increase the chances of your essay not being viewed as being mediocre. You need to capture the interest of admissions or impress that particular professor. Put your best foot forward with an editor's help.

Job market

In today's ultra-competitive job market, a well-crafted resume and cover letter can make all the difference in scoring a job interview or offer. They are your marketing tools to potential employers. Make sure your resume and cover letter are not overlooked in the pile. Good editing will help make your writing shine and stand apart from the rest.

The goal of your writing is to make your particular document an effective communication tool, and editing helps accomplish that mission. Good editing is an investment in your education, career, or endeavor. It enhances clarity and makes your writing more credible, persuasive, and professional-sounding. It will give you the winning edge.

Professional online editing services

With professional online editing services, you can choose the editor best-suited for your project. You can take the time to read editors' qualifications and previous experiences, see their portfolios, and request free sample edits. You have the ability to find the editor who is the "perfect fit." Like "The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears," you can look for and find the "bowl of porridge" that is not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

So what can you expect from your editor? What benefits will be provided? A good editor has various responsibilities and serves different functions. She can be a mentor and guide your writing to where it needs to be. Your editor will provide a much-needed second pair of eyes, a fresh perspective, and an outsider's point-of-view. She will provide constructive criticism, save you time, and reduce your anxiety about your paper. Remember that professional editors are just that—professionals. They are experts in the field of editing (and often writing). You can find one who has experience with the specific topic area of your writing. Editors will provide feedback on how to best improve your document. You can always pick and choose which changes to accept and which advice to follow.

Professional online editors will help polish and perfect your writing, and make it the best possible version. They will take your document to the next level.

Small errors, big consequences

Here are two examples of how seemingly simple writing errors can have costly consequences:

The printer of the 1632 edition of the Wicked Bible was fined £300 ($52,000 today) for the omission of the word "not" in the seventh commandment, "Thou shalt commit adultery." That one mistake changed the entire meaning of the commandment. The printer not only faced a hefty fine, but his license was also suspended.

There is also the Canadian case in which a single comma enabled one party to exit the contract's arrangement with a single-year's notice, instead of the originally intended five-year term. The cost of this blunder was one million Canadian dollars.

The election process is not immune from costly editing errors either. The clerk of Ottawa County in Michigan had to apologize in 2010 for two errors that were made on election ballots in four years. Two candidates' names were missing from absentee ballots mailed to approximately 1,400 voters. Reprints cost $48,570. Another ballot error in 2006 cost more than $48,000 in reprints. The letter "L" was omitted from the word "public" on a proposal on the ballot.

Famous words of wisdom – My favorite editing quotes

Here are some words of wisdom that perfectly capture why you need editing, especially professional editing, for your important written documents.

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.

Arthur Plotnik

An editor should tell the author his writing is better than it is. Not a lot better, a little better.

T. S. Eliot

Editing might be a bloody trade, but knives aren't the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too.

Blake Morrison

What are your favorite quotes about editing?

To sum it all up

Simply put, good writing requires good editing. Editing and proofreading are challenging and time-consuming jobs to do. So it is best to have your document professionally edited. A good editor can serve many beneficial functions and help make you a better writer. Impress your boss, publisher, human resources, or professor with a well-crafted and well–edited document.

Get your paper professionally edited, and get the most out of your writing. Stand out from the crowd and give your writing the winning edge.

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