Apart from writing for my own pleasure - and occasional profit - I also perform various professional writing tasks for other people - which is what this website is all about. I can write something for you from scratch, if I’m properly briefed; I can critique something you’ve written without actually making any changes myself; and I can precis bulk material to make it more accessible. Most of what I do for my clients, though, tends to come under the broad category of ‘editing’. That is, you present me with something already written, and my brief is to improve it. Now, within editing, there are three levels of intervention (in ascending order of complexity) – Proofreading Copy Editing Structural Editing (Other professionals may use slightly different terminology, but the basic distinctions remain the same.) To show what these entail, I’ll go through a piece of text on each of the levels. Here’s an (imaginary) extract from a piece of promotional material: The third big facet of the Powerclass© Executive Training Program is it’s focus on on the individual potentiality of each seperate individual, this is what stands us out from everybody in uniqueness. With Powerclass© you are what you want to and much much more too. Yes, YOU!!! Everyone and everybody can do it to reach for the stars of his own constelation and even well further on. Now, in reality, faced with this kind of linguistic traffic accident, my advice to the writer would be to let me tear the whole thing down and completely rewrite it. Basic Proofreading is designed to pick up accidental mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation, so is generally only appropriate when a document has been through revision and is at an immediate pre-publication stage. Suppose, however – and it is far from impossible – that the writer believed that only such limited intervention was required. This would be the result of the proofreading: The third big facet of the Powerclass© Executive Training Program is its focus on the individual potentiality of each separate individual; this is what makes us stand out from everybody in uniqueness. With Powerclass© you are what you want to be and much much more too. Yes, YOU!!! Everyone and everybody can do it – reach for the stars of their own constellation and even well further on. The paragraph is now grammatical, as well as correctly spelled and punctuated. It is still, however, a complete disaster as a piece of writing – clumsy, incoherent and repetitive. To remedy this requires Copy Editing. To edit someone else’s work you need to find your way through the white noise of the actual words on the page to the original intention behind them. You have to reach for what the writer means to communicate and, in a sense, communicate it for them, ideally staying as close to their chosen form of expression as possible. So: The third key aspect of the Powerclass© Executive Training Program is its focus on the innate potential of each individual; this is what sets us apart. With Powerclass© you work to become the person you always wanted to be. You learn how to reach for your very own stars. That, then, is my take on what the writer was trying to convey in that particular paragraph. Other editors would no doubt make different decisions. But, of course, a paragraph is not the entire document. And if you’re looking at a document as a whole, then an extra level of decisions needs to be made. Structural Editing is about ensuring that all the elements of a document work together for maximum effect. It can involve much more radical procedures, like cutting or completely redrafting entire sections, moving others around, even writing – or suggesting that there should be written – additional material.  To go back to our example – I might decide that the series of key points might be more effective as a tabulated list: (1) (2) (3) and so on. Within that, I might consider that the focus on individual growth potential is actually the most important point and should be number one. Alternatively, I could think it was simply a meaningless piece of New Age waffle distracting from the real bones of the program and ditch it altogether. In practice, as is no doubt obvious, the three editing levels – Proofreading, Copy Editing and Structural Editing – will always tend to merge into each other. From my point of view, I want to arrive at the best possible end product for my client and I will always make clear before I start how much editing I think the piece in question requires. The client, in turn, is, of course, completely entitled to disagree.                            Rossword What I Do