Nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped.
(Lillian Hellman)

plain-vanilla editing

“Plain-vanilla editing” is like a quick run through an untidy room to ready it for the coming guests: the “its” needs an apostrophe, the rug should “lie” flat (not “lay”), and that participle dangling from the molding - crop that “-ing” and fold it back into the sentence.

When doing plain-vanilla editing, I correct spelling, structure, punctuation, and other basic technical errors. I also note any discrepancies in style (multiple spellings of an invented word, inconsistent capitalization, and so on), possible factual errors (which you will need to check out), and other issues that need your attention. I also suggest rewordings for unclear phrases and brevity. I generally follow the Chicago Manual of Style; if you use another house style, let me know.

Please note: “Plain-vanilla” edits are only useful when your text is close to being a final draft. If you have a first draft and need a deeper refinement of structure and coherence, substantive editing may be more helpful.

hard copy

If you send a paper copy of your text (handwritten or typed), I will correct any errors using proofreader’s marks in red ink and return the pages to you (either by fax, mail, or as a scanned PDF). You can then incorporate the corrections into your final copy.

See an example. (The PDF file will open in a new window.)

electronic copy

If you email your text as an MS Word-compatible file, I will return an edited copy with my changes marked. I can use either strikethrough and red font or Word's "Track Changes" feature; let me know which you prefer (though "strikethrough" and "red font" take longer and give you less information about errors and changes).

See an example of Track Changes and strikethrough/red font. (Each PDF will open in a new window.)

If you email me a PDF file, I'll either a) copy the text out of the PDF into a Word document, edit it using "Track Changes," and return that to you or b) print the PDF, handwrite corrections, and return it either by mail or fax, or by email as a scanned document.

For other file types, such as PowerPoint presentations or HTML documents, I can make changes directly but won't be able to mark them.

Michael Bettencourt,
Content Producer

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