General Guidelines

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Of course, every edited document should adhere to the rules of Standard English in terms of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. In addition, all editors should make sure that each edited document follows the formatting style designated by the client. However, above and beyond that, editors should strive to improve the language and clarity of the work. Editors should revise or rewrite bulky, lumpy, repetitive, and confusing sentences. Obviously, when it is impossible to understand the meaning of a sentence well enough to enhance it, the editor should insert a comment or a question, such as “This sentence is unclear” or “Can you explain what you mean?” (Please make sure that such notes are not used excessively because that may lead clients to believe that no attempt was made to truly understand their work.)


Long paragraphs with multiple themes should be divided into shorter ones.

Editors should eliminate repetitious words and phrases. For example, instead of maintaining the repeated use of “get,” editors should substitute “acquire,” “obtain,” or other synonyms.

When a document contains statements of fact that are questionable (such as “President Theodore Roosevelt led America through the darkest days of the Second World War”), it is the editor’s responsibility to insert a comment, suggesting that the writer recheck his or her sources.

Insist on Consistency: In situations in which the writer spells a name or a term in one way, unless it is incorrect, editors should make sure that it is spelled the same way throughout the paper. For example, a client may refer to a source as Ingram and then as Ingramm. Of course, it is possible that the writer is referring to two different sources. In this situation, the editor should point out the difference in spelling. In addition, editors should not allow alternate spellings of words such as theater and theatre or health care and healthcare to remain in place. Inconsistencies in paragraph alignment, the formatting of headings, spaces between sentences, and the use of tense and number should be corrected or, at least, pointed out to the writer.

Spacing: Place only one space between sentences unless the writer requests that two be used.