KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Editing Just Checking Spelling and Grammar?

Sometimes authors who are non-native English speakers come to me after reviewers for a biomedical journal have told them that their manuscript needs attention by an editor who is a native English speaker—even though the manuscript has been already "edited" by an English-language editing service. When I see that issues such as the following have slipped by supposedly professional editing services, I'm dumbfounded.

An article I recently edited concerns hip arthroplasty. Before I edited it, one particular sentence read like this:

Skin retraction was performed for 3 weeks, and there was no recurrence of dislocation.

This was my reaction, which of course I did not record in the manuscript: The incision was left open, with the skin retracted, for 3 weeks?! Or did surgery happen in extremely slow motion, with it taking the surgeon 3 weeks to retract the skin?!

This is how that sentence should have read:

The patient was placed in skin traction for 3 weeks, and dislocation did not recur.

Here is an explanation of skin traction, which is definitely not the same thing as skin retraction.

Spelling checkers and editing macros can help catch spelling errors and decrease time spent on rote editorial tasks, respectively, but they can't replace human editors. Good editing requires the use of a brain.



WendyM said...

Katharine, you have shared a great example of the value of quality, professional editing. I, too, am concerned that many people think editing is simply checking for typos, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting. I believe editing for meaning is the most important part of editing, and it takes time; it can't be rushed.
I have shared your blog on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/WendyMonaghanEditingServices

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks, Wendy. I'm glad you stopped by. There are lots of good editing-related items on your Facebook page.

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