Editing Samples

These are examples of developmental editing, creating a usable layout, line-editing, copyediting, and proofreading with track changes, my personal indulgence, the proofreading chart, and a critique.


Below are two editing examples. The first example is too wordy and there is no introduction while the second example is confusing for the reader through a combination of passive voice and excessive wordiness.

A Wordy Mash-Up With No Introduction

This is a simple example of developmental editing, a.k.a., substantive or content editing. According to the author, these two paragraphs were intended as an introduction and not actually the start of the first chapter. That was the first edit. The first paragraph was a mash-up of punctuation errors, complete sentences and fragments all in the same sentence. As for the wording, it was screaming to be reorganized.

The first line in the second paragraph doesn’t need to be there. It turns the entire sentence into a passive one. It turned out that the sentence could be reused elsewhere with greater impact.

Before: Original Text After: Editing and Reorganizing for Flow


The mind, psyche, controls economics, whether it is micro or macro; whether it is in your personal lifestyle, it is in running a large corpration, or running a government. The mind, which depicts your personality, controls your economics, hereafter referred to as your lifestyle finances. It can be about your personal life or about how you make a living; how you esablish a lifestyle for self and your family.

The study of your personality from a psychological perspective is based on many theories, but to get a workable understanding of your personality, this book will explore the day-to-day activities that can be defined through your internal and external responses to various activities in your life from birth to death.


Whether your psyche is in working for a large corporation, running a government, blue-collar work, or healthcare, your mind controls both the micro and macro economics in your personal lifestyle and in business. Your mind depicts your personalty, your personal life, how you make a living, and how you establish a lifestyle for yourself and your family—hereafter referred to as your lifestyle finances.

To reach a workable understanding of your personality, this book will explore the day-to-day activities definable through your internal and external responses to various activities in your life from birth to death.

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Usable Layouts

This is one of my pet peeves…a single paragraph that runs on forever. Data that is crammed into sentences when a table or list(s) would break up the page and make the information easier to find, understand, and read. Using proper formatting to indicate what’s a book or article. It can become exhausting to go over your text again and again trying to figure out what’s required. By creating a readable, usable layout, the user has a better chance of completing the assignment, understanding what’s expected, how to fix something.

In the editing, I determined that:

  1. As a schedule, the dates are critical
  2. The primary topic is also important while the smaller size of the actual details helps establish a hierarchy of information
  3. Instead of repeating the book titles, Sources or Interpretations, after each reading, the hierarchy is aided by establishing a list of the required readings under each book
  4. The bulleted lists draws your attention and makes it easier to quickly find the needed information
  5. “Interpretations”, “Implications”, and “Millennium” are misspelled

Which one would you rather read?

Before: Original Text After: Edited With a Hierarchy of Importance

April 8: What was the Reformation? (D)
Readings: Robert M Kindgon, Was the Protestant Reformation a Revolution? in Interepretations 112-136;
Steven Ozment, The Revolution of Pamphleteers, in Interpretations 137-162
April 10: The Social and Political Impliations of the Reformation: The Peasant Revolt (A)
Reading: Rice, 178-196; Luther, in Sources 270-287, 295-300; The Peasants, in Sources, 331-33
Norman Cohn, The Egalitarian Millenium, in Interpretations, 164-193;
Peter Blickle, The Reformation in the City and Territory of Erfurt, in Interpretations 194-213

April 8: What was the Reformation? (D)


  • Robert M. Kindgon, “Was the Protestant Reformation a Revolution?”, pages 112–136
  • Steven Ozment, “The Revolution of Pamphleteers”, pages 137–162

April 10: The Social and Political Implications of the Reformation: The Peasant Revolt (A)

  • Rice, pp 178–196


  • “Luther”, pp 270–287, 295–300
  • “The Peasants”, pp 331–333


  • Norman Cohn, “The Egalitarian Millennium”, pp 164–193
  • Peter Blickle, “The Reformation in the City and Territory of Erfurt”, pp 194–213

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In explaining the changes made to the following Before and After text, I’ll discuss how passive voice and using too many words to say the same thing can make text harder to read and understand:

Before: Original Text After: Removing Passive Voice and Excessive Words Passive and Too Wordy
If you identified positive and negative traits about yourself, you should be thinking about what would be an ideal concept you would like to see in yourself and what others see in you. Example 1:
If you identified positive and negative traits about yourself, think about the ideal “you” which you and others would like to see in you.
Example 1:
Removing “would like to see in yourself” and “what” and then adding “would like to” and adding it in front of “see in you” reflects what both groups are wanting to see.
Example 2:
If you identified positive and negative traits about yourself, think about the ideal “you” which you and others see in you.
Example 2:
Removing the “would like to see in yourself” still makes sense, but the second part of this sentence fails to make sense. The whole point of this book is for each individual to examine him- or herself and make their self a better person. This is a hope for the future.

As the second part of this sentence stands, it sounds like this person already exists. So, what would then be the point?

Example 3:
Identify positive and negative traits about yourself; think about the ideal “you” which you and others would like to see in you.
Example 3:
Why would you want to “if” identify? Since the point of the book is to improve yourself, do it. There is no “if”.

Without that “if”, the first part of the sentence is no longer a dependent clause and the two clauses are command statements. Two individual sentences. They should either be separated into two sentences, separated by a semicolon, or joined by a comma and a conjunction.

Example 1, 2, & 3:
Removing the “you should be” and shortening “thinking” to “think” makes the sentence active and not passive.
Changing “concept” to “you” brings it home to a definite goal.
There are two groups involved, not just you, so it makes sense to remove the second “yourself”, which is reflexive.
Joining “you” and “others” in one phrase makes sense as both parties are talking about the same thing.

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Copyediting encompasses checking for spelling and grammatical errors, examining for proper word use, eliminating the use of passive voice, and repairing inconsistencies. It may also include notations about text flow.

The following is a representative sample of typical copyediting:

Original Text Edited Text Reason(s)for Altering Text
The values we learned as a child are in conflict or in congruence with the “outer” world; a society with a mirage of similar and dissimilar behaviors. The values we learned as children are either in conflict or in congruence with the “outer” world; a society with a mélange of similar and dissimilar behaviors. Maintaining pronoun agreement—”we” indicates plural requiring more than one child, children

Use of “either” emphasizes the contrast between “conflict” and “congruence”

“Mélange” replaces “mirage”

  • “Mirage” indicates something is unreal or imagined
  • “Mélange” indicates a mix
There are struggles with urges and drives that become stronger and different from the protected world of “home”. When there are conflicts with social values; it is a conflict of inner forces which leads to behavior that defines how you act, react, interact; then how you take control of your behavior that further defines you personality. We experience struggles with urges and drives that become stronger and different from the protected world of “home”. When there are conflicts with social  values, it is a conflict of inner forces which leads to behavior that defines how you act, react, interact, and then  how you take control of your behavior that further defines your personality. “We experience” personalizes the sentence encouraging the reader to empathize with its content

Extra space between “social” and “values” is eliminated

Incorrect use of semicolons:

  • Replaced with a comma to denote a slight break in the sentence
  • Replaced with ", and" to indicate a related series
  • Extra space between “then” and “how” eliminated
  • Improper use of pronoun, “you”

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Proofreading is concerned with the final text. Examining it for formatting and typographical errors (typos). It is one of my stronger skills, and, even when reading for fun, I still read every single word…and I keep running across typos in the books I read.

Of course, when I’m editing a computer file, I use Word’s Track Changes tool. There is a tutorial on using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes up on the KD Did It website.

Using Word’s Track Changes

When working with computer files from authors, I love Microsoft Word’s Track Changes as it allows each person who can access the file to make comments, add, and delete text. All without changing the original file.

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Hard Copy Edits

A hard copy simply means the file was printed out onto paper. It also means the dread red pen…bwah-ha-ha… Below is a sample of such an edit. The positives are that you can’t lose the file because of the computer. The negatives are you can lose the paper copy, and there are no backups unless you’ve paid for a Xerox™ to be made. It also costs money to ship a hard copy back and forth.

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One of My Proofreading Charts

As I mentioned, it makes me nuts sometimes when I run across too many errors in a book I’m reading. The table below is an example of the type of chart I’ve been known to send to publishers. I use something similar when editing websites.

An example of the correction files I create are below. I use a large red style for the letters/words missing and a crossed-out gray for the incorrect letters/words.

Page Paragraph Line Correction Rule
61 10 2 “…lead her out of the bathroom”
65 12 1 “My, my, my.” It's sequential.
73 3 2 “…to want, to need, to repeat, over and over again.” This could just be personal prejudice…
77 5 7 “…debutante >that who didn't know how to shoot.” “Who” is used to talk about a person; “that” is used to talk about a thing.
88 5 1 “…said Paige was in >a trauma and we had…” The trauma is a definite state of being; “a” is used only with indefinite articles, i.e., a book, a movie, a (any) trauma. Paige's trauma is very definite.
221 6 3 “If you're gonna do recognizance
reconnaissance for me…”
“Recognizance” is used in law or is an obsolete word for recognize.

“Reconnaissance” is used by the military and engineers to explore an area. It is also from an old French verb meaning to recognize.

335 Last Last “…so she wouldn't loose her cool…” “Loose” refers to something that is not compact or not dense in structure.

“Lose” refers to failing to keep or not keeping track of something.

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A critique is a one-time assessment of ills suffered by a manuscript. The partial samples below resulted from books I’ve reviewed. Instead of posting a review, I wrote a simple critique for the author. Paid critiques are more extensive.

Example 1:

…reads more like a bad melodrama primarily because of the earl’s hapless masquerade. It was too ham handed. His and his friend’s masquerades are the only characters which are really played with. I suppose you could make an argument for Lady BB (as the daughter of a duke, she would be Lady FirstName and never Lady HerHusbandsLastName unless she gave up her right to her birthright title, and considering that her husband was a vicar’s son and therefore has no title, she wouldn’t have any title if she gave her own up), but even her character is somewhat halfhearted. AA’s and CC’s characters should definitely have been stressed; the duke’s never really is.

The language and dialog switches between contemporary and a touch of Regency upper class and doesn’t add much humor to it, which doesn’t lead me to finding it the stilted dialog to which you refer. The sentence structure was a bad blend of simple, complex, and compound. Then there are the missing articles and prepositions, the total lack of attention to possessives, misspellings, use of words not current with the time period, misuse of punctuation and plural endings, incorrect capitalizations, etc.

Male “dingdongs”?? Really??? In a Regency novel? Cuss?? Referring to the Earl of XX throughout as the “earl”??

At the very least, please consider the French origins of fiancé and blond when referring to a woman.

It was so bad, that I wondered if it was intended as a parody of Regency romances, hence my inquiry. The start of the story is definitely farcical between the whole idea that Lord YY could be disinherited, which creates the melodramatic basis of the story; that XX thinks he can dictate to a duke; his “jealousy” because AA doesn’t instantly believe he is all-knowing and all-powerful; the fish metaphor; and, the wager itself. If you had kept this sort of silliness going throughout the story, it could have worked. Although, you would still need a proofreader!

Example 2:

Misspellings and inconsistent spellings; pronoun misuse; formatting issues with improper and inconsistent capitalization, hyphenation, and improper dialog layout; issues with pluralization, possessives, and contractions (c’mon the whole it’s versus its bit is pretty common knowledge); lack of attention to parallel construction; articles and prepositions either missing or too many; several instances of verb disagreement; and, someone has REALLY missed the boat on closed and hyphenated compound adjectives.

Whoever was the editor or proofreader on this has no clue whatsoever about punctuation with semicolons, colons, OR commas. Oh lord, the comma issues that abound in this from the vocative case inconsistencies, no definition for dependent or introductory clauses. Someone needs a refresher course on how to join two independent clauses. Not one of the more egregious cases in point, but certainly an indicator of problems: “Several weeks before; a traveler from a distant…”

Example 3:

The fanciful language is too extravagant. It feels as though you’re attempting poetry in a story that is about greed and brutality. It’s misplaced. Use words to be brutal, angry. Make us smell the stench and feel AA’s emotions. Make us feel AA’s anger. His loss of the girl and the future of which he had dreamed. Everything written is external. What things and life around him looks like. It would seem that AA’s emotional state would be important, and that’s not being shown. You’re telling us, but it’s not pulling us in. So gouts of mucus are spotting his clothes. Make us feel how disgusting this is on his clothes. How it displays the depths to which AA has sunk. Make us feel the disgust with BB’s housekeeping. How it reflects BB himself. Why don’t we hear more about the girl who left AA? Make me cry.

There are chunks of writing when I’m not sure who’s being written about. I’m not finding AA being expelled all that believable. Couldn’t the school have given him the opportunity to show him the paper he had written? Wouldn’t the original file have been in his computer? Has AA purchased papers before and that’s why they don’t give him a chance? Why he’s on academic probation?

How is killing BB going to fix AA’s life? What are we hoping for? What will we regret when it doesn’t happen? If AA’s on drugs (or off them), why aren’t we seeing his world through his eyes as the drugs or lack of them affect how he views it?

What does BB do that is screwing over the world? Why aren’t you using this to make us hate him?

I’m left feeling, so what? And I should be crying.

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