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Our Editing Process

Ask any five editors to edit the same piece, and you'll get five different products. That's because editing is quite subjective. Some, of course, is objective, like grammar. But the process of substantive or developmental editing, the process of copyediting and the process of fact checking are all different for each editor. And although every project is customized and a little bit different, we wanted to provide you with a summary of our processes so you know roughly what you're going to get.

Substantive or Developmental Editing

We read the entire manuscript on paper, making big-picture notes on every section and every paragraph as needed. We read the manuscript for organization, structure and flow, coherence, clarity and tone and keep notes on paper throughout. Even more importantly, we read the manuscript for the science. We examine all elements of your writing and your story. And then we provide tips and pointers for how to revise, restructure and reshape as needed, and how/where/what to add or delete. We take into account your intended publisher and your intended audience.  



Our copyediting process tends to be more in-depth than most. We read the entire manuscript, line by line. Our copyediting process involves fixing grammatical errors, glaring factual errors or inconsistencies, typos and language. We check for consistent use of tenses and terminology. We check for ambiguous pronouns, ambiguous modifiers, run-on sentences and overuse of adverbs. We check to make sure styling is consistent. We cross-check tables, figures, maps and other graphics to ensure the data match the text. 


We check any terms we don’t know and add definitions (or ask the author to do so), as we figure if we don’t know a term, neither will the audience. We double check the science. Our vast experience in this field also allows us to do a gut check on scientific claims and scientists’ names and descriptions (e.g., calling someone a climatologist who is actually an atmospheric chemist). It’s a layer of scientific fact checking that comes with copyediting that most copyeditors cannot provide.  


We move paragraphs and sections; add in new research we find that calls into question the text as written; and add new papers and ideas that further support the text as written. We question where text needs to be explained further and usually offer replacement wording suggestions. We suggest places where the author should paraphrase poorly worded quotes and offer wording suggestions where we can.


We suggest changes to make the personal anecdotes stronger and connect more to the overall story. We ensure it is abundantly clear what is presented in a scientific paper or report versus what is the author’s opinion. We also suggest places where we think the author could interject more of their well-informed opinions.  


Finally, as needed, we discuss big-picture questions with the author throughout the process, like who exactly the intended audience is, and work on tone and explanation so the author can reach that audience.


Basically, you could say that we rigorously copyedit the entire manuscript for grammar and consistency, as well as science. The gist: Your manuscript will be meticulously edited by an experienced science editor.


Fact Checking

We fact check every word in the book that needs to be verified. If items are difficult to fact check (for example, when the author tells personal stories), we fact check what we can and try to note the stories that the reader will have to trust. 


Every direct quote is checked, with the exception of any we cannot access. Anything we cannot access is noted in the comments. 


We check every number, and highlight anything we cannot verify. We also recalculate anything that the author calculates to ensure accuracy and order of magnitude. 


All science and technical definitions are checked. 


We check all spellings of people's names and titles (in particular, what kind of -ologist or -ist they consider themselves to be), and we check all location spellings, dates, etc (the easiest kinds of facts to check!). 


Where things are annotated, we check to ensure that every time a reference is listed, it is relevant to that sentence or paragraph, and that if the author is paraphrasing, the paraphrase accurately conveys what was in the article/website. If there is no reference listed for something, we either do a little research and provide a reference or highlight it. If the annotations for references seem out of order, we highlight those and request they be clarified. We can also check the references themselves - ensuring, for example, that titles, publishers, dates and authors are all correct. 


If the author makes any arguments, we point out if anything seems spurious or overblown after checking all the reference materials. Likewise, if an argument seems to be missing some key component, we point that out.


We try to disentangle any compilation paragraphs to ensure specificity for which part of the concept comes from which source. And we point out any place it's unclear that the author is editorializing. 



Proofreading is your last line of defense before publication. We will have someone who has not read your text before read the entire manuscript twice (ideally) to look for any final spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, styling issues or anything else that could detract from your text. We go a step beyond usual proofreading though, and also do a science gut check to ensure that the science is consistent, comprehensible and accurate.

Process Substantive
Process Copyediting
Process Fact Checking
Process Proofreading

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