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Top Tips for Working with an Editor

Working with a professional editor can save time, stress and anxiety often associated with preparing academic documents and completing book-length projects. However, the more educated you are about editing, the better your experience working with an editor and project outcome will be. Please note the following when choosing to work with an editor:

● Understand the difference between the two types of professional editing, which are content editing, (commonly known as revision) and line editing (commonly known as proofreading). These edits are usually conducted separately, not at the same time.

● While your committee members are content experts who provide feedback on your research, scholarship and methodology from a disciplinary perspective, you often will need a writing-based content edit; a professional content edit focuses on improving the clarity of an argument, strength of supports, logical presentation of ideas and other issues that address writing substance and quality.

● A content edit should be conducted once you have gained approval on a definitive topic, received feedback from committee members on your draft and taken the time to address the committee’s feedback. If a writing-based content edit is conducted too soon, the document will require an unnecessary number of writing-based content edits. However, on occasion, a writing-based content edit needs to occur before a disciplinary content edit.

● Line editing should occur once you and your committee are satisfied with the content of your document. This type of editing, which focuses on spelling, grammar and English language mechanics, occurs when you are ready to finalize and submit a document.

● Realize that every academic document is different; however, academic writing typically requires several revisions of a document. At times, you may need to have an editor conduct several content edits if you have significant changes to drafts of your document or you may only need one content edit, so be open to guidance by your committee members and the recommendations of a professional editor.

Final Tips


1. Follow recommendations of committee members to engage an editor, regardless of where you are in the process

2. Communicate changes about deadlines, committee feedback, etc. to an editor ASAP

3. Allot sufficient time in your writing process to work with an editor


1. Send a draft or revision to an editor while awaiting feedback from committee members

2. Expect friends, families and those unfamiliar with academic writing to do a content edit

3. Wait until you’re desperate or overwhelmed to work with a professional editor

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