Menu
Menu

faqs

How can an editor help?
A professional editor can help you present a polished document or publication that gives the impression you want.

As a trained and accredited editor, I can create a logical structure for your document and remove distracting errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar. I can help you choose the most appropriate format, style, tone and ‘voice’ to reach your audience.

If you are working with a designer, illustrator, typesetter, printer and/or software developer, I can create a brief to explain your desired ‘look and feel’, usability requirements and more.

Your work is treated confidentially at all times.

Contact me today to discuss your editing needs. For more information about editing and writing, visit my resources page.

What type of documents do you edit?

I edit a wide range of non-fiction and selected fiction texts. Not on the list? Contact me to discuss your editing needs.

Non-fiction
Academic
  • Research theses
  • Journal articles
  • Assignments
  • Presentations

 

Business
  • Annual reports
  • Business reports
  • Marketing text
  • Promotional material
  • Newsletters
  • Technical reports
General
    • Books
    • Educational materials
    • Website text
    • Manuals
    • Essays
    • Menus
And more …
      • Reference books
      • Guidebooks
      • Biography
      • Family and local history
      • Memoirs
Fiction
      • Short stories
      • Historical fiction
What is substantive editing?
Substantive editing (or ‘structural’ editing) considers the whole document: why it’s being created, how it will be used and who will read it.

During a substantive edit, I work with the author and publisher to determine:

      • What is the most appropriate format for the purpose?
      • How will the sections and chapters be arranged?
      • Does the document need a glossary, index or appendix?
      • Do the headings and subheadings help the reader find what they are looking for?
      • Are there gaps, repetition or contradictions?
      • Are the illustrations suitable? Do they match the text? Where will they be placed?
      • Does the language used suit the topic and the audience?
      • Is referencing needed? What form should this take?

 
In a comprehensive edit, substantive editing is followed by copy editing and proofreading.

What is copy editing?
Copy editing removes mistakes that could cause problems for the author or reader.

Errors in numbers, names or facts could cause embarrassment and require time and money to put right. Incorrect word choice could confuse the reader or give the wrong impression.

Removing errors

During copy editing your document is meticulously checked for errors in formatting, spelling, punctuation, grammar and word use. Elements such as headings, tables, captions and numerical values are edited to remove errors and inconsistencies. Cross-references are checked. The reference list or bibliography is copy edited and checked to ensure that all sources are acknowledged.

Using a style guide

In most instances, I edit to the Style manual: for authors, editors and printers (6th edn), which is the required style guide for Australian Government publications and is preferred by many Australian publishers. I can also copy edit according to your house style or a required style guide. This may be particularly important for academic papers, journal articles or corporate documents.

Alternatively, I can create a style sheet specifically for your document, which records the decisions made about treatment of, for example, capitalisation, hyphenation, quotation marks, numerical values, abbreviations and specialist terms used. A style sheet is a useful reference for others working on your document and can help prevent errors creeping in during typesetting and proofreading.

Spelling and word use

For Australian spelling and word use, I refer to the Macquarie dictionary. Over time, English speakers around the world have developed variations in spelling and word use. If your document will be published for an international audience, you may prefer to use US  spelling (for example, ‘z’ rather than ‘s’ in recognize, realize, organize ; color rather than colour ; center rather than centre). Words that are commonly used in Australia may need to be explained or replaced for overseas readers. Your document will be checked so that spelling and word use are consistent throughout. Please let me know if you would like me to refer to a specific dictionary when editing your document.

Legal considerations

I’ll raise potential legal issues with you regarding possible defamation, sexist or racist language or the need for permission. If you are writing about real people, you may need to obtain written permission or change names and descriptions. You may also need to obtain permission to use text or images created by another person. I can point out possible areas of concern, but I am not a lawyer so, for your peace of mind, if legal issues arise I would advise you to seek professional legal advice before publication.

Fact checking

During copy editing, I check factual information that is easy to verify, such as important dates in history, national leaders, spelling of names and places, international borders and currency. For example, a character in the US would not usually drive on the left-hand side of the road. The World Health Organization is always spelt with a ‘z’. I also check basic maths in tables and figures. If a large number of errors or inconsistencies are found then I will include this in a list of author queries for you.

Marking queries and comments

During copy editing, I mark any suggested changes in MS Word, using Track Changes. I may need more information from you before completing the copy edit; if so, I will add queries using the Comments feature in Track Changes. I can also copy edit on hard copy, if you prefer, using standard proofreading marks to mark changes. In this case I will also provide a list of author queries.

Reviewing changes

When the document is returned to you, you can review the changes I’ve suggested and decide which you will adopt. Whenever changes are made to a document, errors may creep in. A complex document might need many alterations. In this case, copy editing could occur over several stages.

What is proofreading?
Proofreading is a final check of the typeset document, letter by letter, before publication.

Checking proofs

‘Proofs’ can be provided as either hard copy or on-screen documents and show how the document will appear when it is published. During proofreading,  I compare the proofs against the final, approved version that was sent to the printer or typesetter. I also refer to the style sheet and design specifications to identify any spelling, punctuation or formatting errors.

Sometimes errors appear during typesetting or file conversion; proofreading picks up these errors so they can be corrected before printing. If errors are found and corrections made, a further round of proofs may be needed before the document is ready for publication.

Verification edit

A verification edit is done to check that all parts of the document are present, page numbers and sections are in the correct order, and all previous changes have been taken in.

Do you edit academic theses?
Yes, I copy edit and proofread academic theses, assignments and papers.

The Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd), has developed guidelines for editors working on research theses. I copy edit and proofread research theses according to these guidelines, which were approved in 2010 by the Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (now the Australian Council of Graduate Research or ACGR).

For more information, students and supervisors should see IPEd’s Guidelines for editing research theses.

Contact me today to arrange a sample edit and quote.

How do you quote?
Each document is different. The time and resources needed for editing depend on the size and complexity of the document, the level of editing required and whether all parts of the document are present when editing begins.

If your document needs significant restructuring, is incomplete when editing starts, or the author makes major changes during editing, then this may affect other parts of the document and the editing process may take longer.

I can offer an obligation-free quote after seeing your manuscript or a representative portion of it. If you prefer, I can give you an initial estimate; I can then edit an agreed portion of the text, and provide a firm quote.

Contact me today to discuss your editing needs.

What is ‘plain English’?
Writing in plain English means using everyday words that most readers will understand. Many organisations and government departments now use plain English wherever possible. When I edit for plain English, I will:

      • replace jargon with clear, direct language
      • remove unnecessary or confusing words
      • choose the simplest words to get the message across
      • keep most sentences short and to the point
      • use direct (but helpful) instructions, such as ‘If you have any questions, please ask the manager’
      • use headings, lists or space to highlight important text
      • use ‘active’ voice (He built the house) rather than ‘passive’ voice (The house was built by him).

 
I can help you reword your document so that your readers will get your message, first time. Contact me today to discuss your project.

Do you edit on hard copy or on screen?
Either, the choice is yours. I can edit on hard copy using standard proofreading marks. On screen, I edit in MS Word 2010 using Track Changes to mark up suggested changes and add comments for you.

If I need more information from you before going ahead, I will note this as Comments in Track Changes or on a separate list of author queries, whichever you prefer.

Why choose RAK Editing Services over a cheap online editor?
      • English is my first language, so I can appreciate and maintain the subtleties and nuances in your work.
      • I live and work in Australia, so I’m awake and working when you are. You can contact me directly by phone or email to discuss your project.
      • I edit to the Style manual: for authors, editors and printers (6th edn) and the Macquarie dictionary, for Australian readers.
      • I can help you identify Australian words, spelling and usage that may need to be explained for international readers.
      • I can edit to your required style guide.
      • I can create a style sheet and/or brief so that designers, typesetters and printers can prepare your document the way you want.
      • I can help with issues facing authors in Australia, such as Cataloguing in Publication (CiP) and permissions.
What computer software do you use?
I use MS Office 2010. I have appropriate computer security and file backup in place.

Do you use editing software?
Yes, PerfectIt 3 Pro edition helps me find and fix many of the small errors that occur in a manuscript.

Among many other tests, PerfectIt 3 checks that brackets come in pairs, ‘nine’ or ‘9’ is used consistently, numbered items such as graphs are in the correct order, and capital letters are used appropriately in headings, tables and lists. Editing software includes tools that can, for example, create a list of abbreviations and definitions used in the document.

Using software for these routine tasks can save me time and therefore save you money, but nothing replaces a human eye to spot errors in punctuation, word usage and grammar. Editing software can, for example, point out that an author has hyphenated words differently across a document. However, an editor knows that ‘ice-cold drink’ requires a hyphen, whereas ‘it was ice cold outside’ does not. While an editing program can point out (some) possible errors, an editor decides on the appropriate usage in each instance.

Spell checkers and editing software can’t differentiate between ‘died’ or ‘dyed’. That’s where an editor comes in.

Spell checking software – is it failsafe?
Using software to check spelling and grammar can be a useful starting point, but it has limits. Spell checking software can mark as ‘incorrect’, words that are in fact correct. Spell checkers cannot identify:

      • specialist terminology
      • names of people or places
      • words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly (for example it’s/its, they’re/their/there, except/accept, two/too/to, beech/beach).

 
Grammar checking software operates to a limited range of rules and definitions, and may be confused by complex sentences. This software does not ‘read for meaning’, so it may pass a nonsense sentence as correct. Try typing this sentence into your word-processing program:

The capitol of Australia is the sub-Saharan village of Brisbane.

Did your spell checking or grammar checking software find any problems? No? A human editor would know (or could check) the following:

      • ‘Capitol’ is referring to the most important city, so it should be spelled capital.
      • Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, not Australia.
      • Brisbane is a city, not a village.
      • Brisbane is nowhere near the Sahara desert.

 
Yes, software is useful, but it is not (yet) perfect. Contact me today to discuss your editing needs.

I’m doing research for my next writing project. Can you help?
I can help you search for background information and verify facts, particularly with regard to biography, memoir or historical fiction. Fact-checking usually occurs during copy editing, but you may require a more comprehensive research service.

I am a member of the National Library of Australia and State Library of Queensland, with access to online resources and databases. I can also search newspapers, microform and other resources on site at the SLQ, by negotiation.

Contact me today to discuss your project.

Where are you located?
I’m based at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. My local time zone is Australian Eastern Standard Time (UCT/GMT +10 hours).

With the wonders of broadband internet, I can work with clients anywhere. Please contact me by phone or email to discuss your project.