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How I edit

Owing to the high responsibility I take for a manuscript (as if I were the co-author), the lines between copyediting (the reading and amending of text for grammar, logic, style, consistency and appropriate expression) and manuscript editing (which involves a deep engagement with the content and includes rewriting of sentences) blur.

As a result of problems of among others sentence structure, very few of the documents I work on involve only proofreading.

My editing method is condensing without over-condensing, on the assumption that author sentences can generally be shortened by, say, 10% or more.

Most authors who are not first-language English-speakers tend to use the long/cumbersome/French possessive (e.g. ‘the pen of my aunt’ instead of ‘my aunt’s pen’) as well as indirect and passive.

The cleaner the work is to begin with, the cleaner it will emerge. Client confidentiality is assured. I do the work; no one else sees it or has access to it.

I am sometimes asked to cap my time; for instance, I may provide a cost estimate for, say, 7 to 9 hours; if client then requests that I cap it at 7 hours, I will agree to this.

I provide formal cost estimates on final drafts, not on work in progress.

There is only one ‘live’ document. You e-mail this to me, I edit it – in Word in Track Changes and sometimes accompanying figures in PowerPoint (I do not edit in PDF or Latex) – and you accept/reject my changes and address my comments, and so on.

I work on the content (grammar, style, sense and meaning), rather than the format, and ask authors to take full responsibility for their work – especially the formatting, in-text referencing, references section and the journal’s style guide – before e-mailing me a manuscript. I do not edit reference sections, although I tend to spend five minutes or so pointing out any errors and inconsistencies there.

I have much respect for clients who are not first-language English speakers, yet write it courageously and without resorting to rough or search engine translation. Some clients apologise about their English. I never scold or shout at anyone about incorrect language use – this constitutes counterproductive and non-professional behaviour on the part of any editor that no author should ever face or tolerate.

Kindly specify whether the language requirement is UK or U.S. English. Also, please plan so as to allow me sufficient time to do the editing.

I invoice upon completing a document, not at month-end. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, payment is within three days of invoicing. Kindly indicate whether you or your department/institution will pay for the work; if it is the latter, kindly provide the contact person’s name and e-mail address; also, kindly submit my invoice to them on the day I send it to you. Please also follow up so as to ensure prompt payment.

My rate as at 2021 is 34 euro per hour.

I will generate a unique payment reference code for your work when I invoice.

Kindly include the bank fee in your payment.

According to South Africa’s tax laws, no VAT is payable on academic editing. I pay income tax in South Africa in my personal capacity.