A very common task in school and the workplace is editing. After you spend so much time writing something, it can be difficult to find the errors. You will probably try to find someone else to proofread it for you. Along with that, there is a chance you may be asked to edit another person’s document. How can you edit without changing the text completely and without hurting their feelings?
Use Their Words
Every person has a different writing style and word set they use. It is important to make your changes flow with the author’s style. It does no good to completely rewrite their work without any regard to how they actually write. At that point, you may as well have written it for them in the first place! Make sure to keep their spirit within the writing as you recommend changes.
Make Suggestions, Not Requirements
Don’t tell people what they need to do, instead make suggestions on what they could do to improve their paper. Few people react well to being told what to do. People tend to react much better to gentle suggestions than firm orders. Insisting the person’s writing is no good unless they accept your changes is a good way to have none of your edits incorporated and create an argument.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime?” This saying can be applied to many parts of life, including editing. If you actually show the person your edits and explain why you’re suggesting them, they are likely to take a lot more from the situation than if you simply make the changes for them. Explaining your logic and adjustments might teach them something they could use on future writings. In the long run, they will appreciate that more than you changing everything for them.
When editing, especially for a school paper, focus on both positive and negative attributes of the writing. Dwelling only on the negative is discouraging to the author. When helping to edit works for school, assume your author can use encouraging comments as well as constructive criticism. These tend to be younger people with less confidence in their writing. It is good to encourage authors to continue to develop the things they currently do well in their writing, along with assisting them in improving on their weaknesses.
In conclusion, make sure you are always editing carefully and attentively. Pay close attention to grammar and punctuation. Always do your best to be a good editor in hopes that one day when you are in need of an editor, that person will be willing to do the same.