The Right and Wrong Way to Edit

1ce0eb06fd6a9e9566a0cb310cfee635?s=47 Jonathan Rick
January 08, 2011

The Right and Wrong Way to Edit

Not a rehash of grammar, but handy, memorable tips you can immediately apply.


Jonathan Rick

January 08, 2011


  1. The Right and Wrong Way to Edit

  2. Why You Need an Editor

  3. “We all need editors. When we write, we might know

    what we mean to say, and we become blind to the looseness in our language and the gaps in our facts.” — Jeff Baron
  4. “As any editor will tell you, the difference between good

    and great takes place in the rewrites.” — Barry Ritholz
  5. How Not to Edit

  6. “Editing is heady. You’re in a position of power …

    Abuse comes naturally to someone in this position.
  7. “Editing is heady. You’re in a position of power …

    Abuse comes naturally to someone in this position. Resist it; it doesn’t help. Concentrate on the text and its problems, not the writers and their problems.” — Josh Bernoff
  8. None
  9. Tactical vs. Strategic

  10. Tactical ➢ “Copyediting” ➢ “Proofreading” ➢ Line by Line Strategic

    ➢ Editing ➢ Structure
  11. “The writer in me desires what the editor in me

    cannot abide. I treasure every precious construction, every not- so-clever aside. (Like this one.) So the cuts I make to my own drafts are marginal. I compress rather than select; shake, never prune. Until another editor does it for me.” — Carlos Lozada
  12. Is your text missing necessary background info? Is it unfair?

    Is it libelous? Have crucial questions gone unasked?
  13. Explain it simply.

  14. The CONNECT software provides a common gateway which manages services

    that package and transport data using messaging protocols compliant with NHIN specifications. The CONNECT software is a “common gateway,” or a sentinel that checks the credentials of every datum that seeks to pass through it. As long as the data are using messaging protocols that comply with NHIN, CONNECT gives them permission to proceed.
  15. Omit needless words.

  16. Included below and attached you will find media articles that

    address issues that may be pertinent to the work the analytics staff is conducting. Please find below and attached articles that pertain to analytics.
  17. The technicians are working on the processing of work orders.

    The technicians are processing the work orders.
  18. I’m curious to know if these slides were coordinated with

    anyone from the MHS for accuracy purposes. Did anyone coordinate these slides with MHS for accuracy?
  19. Favor the active voice.

  20. The report was written by multiple, cross- agency stake- holder

    groups. Stakeholders across various agencies wrote the report. Multiple, cross- agency stake- holder groups wrote the report.
  21. It was concluded that additional briefings were needed for feedback

    to be solicited. Because they needed more feedback, the co- chairs conducted more briefings. Identifying the need for further feedback, the co- chairs conducted additional briefings.
  22. Use specifics.

  23. When a major weather incident, terrorist threat, or other emergency

    affects the American population, emergency personnel need a way to inform residents of what to do. Television and radio alerts help spread the word, but they cannot reach everyone. When a major emergency — a tornado, a bomb threat, the snowpocalypse that recently blanketed the Eastern seaboard — breaks out, people panic. Should I evacuate or shelter in place? For how long should I take cover in the bathtub? If inside, you can flip on a TV or radio. If outside, you can congregate and chat.
  24. Fortunately, many people carry another method of communication — a

    cellular phone. In the future, a message could be broadcasted to cellular and paging devices to notify the public of an approaching storm or other emergency. Yet what’s the one thing most of us carry regardless of where we are — the one thing we’re most likely to grab in an emergency? Hint: 91% of Americans own one. That’s right — it’s your cell phone. Portable and powerful, your cell phone is the perfect vehicle through which emergency responders can beam critical, urgent info to you before, during, and after a disaster.
  25. Don’t tweak. Rewrite.

  26. Cattle calling numerous PR agencies to respond does no party

    any good, and disrespects our industry. We advocate first pre-screening RFP recipient candidates through a request for qualifications (RFQ) as a means to uncover conflicts, true expertise, staffing, and (sometimes) locations. Choosing five to seven RFP recipient-contenders for your business is reasonable. And ending up with three or four finalists narrows the choice to a manageable level and winning agency. All too often, when issuing an RFP, companies will invite myriad PR agencies to respond. “Let’s cast a wide net,” the thinking goes. But an RFP shouldn’t be a cattle call. In fact, smart companies don’t even issue an RFP until they’ve issued an RFQ — a “request for qualifications.” This crucial prescreening document benefits both sides: it allows agencies to uncover any conflicts, while allowing companies to quickly size up an agency’s capabilities. Only then do smart companies put out an RFP. In this way, you not only prequalify your candidates; they also self-select themselves. As a result, whereas your competitors are thumbing through dozens of proposals, you can thoroughly analyze three or four that grok your needs.
  27. We have led system integration for several of CMS’s most

    ambitious, complex enterprise systems. As the system integrator, we make sure that each new system will harmonize with the centers’ IT architecture, business processes, mission, and customers. With people’s lives on the line, a health IT system’s parts can’t just come together; they must work together. And so must the people who design, develop, and test it. That takes more than a parts list and a schedule. It takes credible expertise in health IT design, development, usability, and testing. Mature, appraised practices. A mastery of interoperability and standards. A nuanced grasp of health policy and legislation. And the will — and skill — to harmonize competing factions into one “badgeless” team, with one mission: Yours.
  28. As the Marketplace Advisor and System Integrator, we led the

    team that “rescued” and integrated the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace, an intricate, nationwide enterprise of business and technology, including the federal health-insurance exchange, In 2013, when the nation’s Health Insurance Marketplace needed help coming together, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services turned to its most expert integrator: Optum Government. Our rescue of was widely hailed as an astonishing turnaround.
  29. The remaining 60-80% are those who have not thought about

    how to choose research problems and partners that lead to high-impact research results and large societal benefits. For this large majority the message might be: The remaining 60-80% consist of those who haven’t thought much about these issues. For this cohort, I propose the following message:
  30. Evidence is growing that identifies new ways to improve the

    impact of your research. You might want to try it, but you are welcome to do what you have been doing. The strategy is to work on realistic problems with partners in business, government, and NGOs. “If you want your research to have an impact, you need to make a decision. On one hand, you can do what your predecessors did — dedicate yourself to a labor of love with few commercial prospects — and hope for the best. On the other hand, you can work on realistic problems and partner with professionals in business, government, and NGOs to bring your ideas to fruition.”