This is the process of editing, which can come at a range of levels. First, you will probably read your work back and change some things, which is self-editing. Then you want to pass your work on to someone else for review.The next stage is ‘substantive’ or ‘content’ editing. This is the process of looking at the overall structure of the written work and making changes to the substance of the piece. For a story it may be rearranging the order of events, or introducing or removing a character.
For a business plan it might include adding sections about new opportunities, work practices or potential markets. For a newsletter it might lead to the removal of one article to make room for photographs in another. Substantive editing is looking at the entire content and trying to make sure that the intended message comes across in the clearest and most compelling fashion. While a menu or a short letter might not need it, a longer document will benefit greatly from this kind of editing.
Once your work has been edited and has the content you want, it is likely still to need further improvement. While looking at the big picture, a substantive editor may not have noticed an odd sentence structure here or a misused word there. That is where copy-editing comes in. A copy-editor looks in more detail at the document, checking line by line that the individual sentences make sense and that the piece flows well. They will try to make the work more concise or clearer and might, for example, help to make sure that it is courteous (assuming that is what is wanted). This stage also involves checking the grammar.
You will need to consider page size, margins, spacing, fonts, paragraphs, and indentations, and perhaps headings, pictures, diagrams, tables and more. This all needs to be completed before proofreading – and, yes, we can help with that. With many years experience, we know a few tricks of the trade and some unwritten rules, meaning our service can save a lot of time and angst.
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The extent to which you need any of these stages depends on the purpose of your written work. An informal letter or a menu on a blackboard doesn't need to be perfect. But if you have invested a substantial amount of time in writing, and are about to spend a substantial sum of money on printing or publishing, you should certainly have your work edited and proofread. Who will believe your business plan if you can't even spell? Who will enjoy your story when they can't follow what is happening? Who will understand your user's manual when they can't understand the sentences it contains?
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