Working with an Editor
Cliff Nelson,

Here's how it usually goes:

A few editing examples I can share:

One client wrote:
"Further, accountability of aging individuals to plan and prepare for the costliness experienced as a part of the aging process is key to establishment of intergenerational distributive justice."

I changed that sentence as follows:
"Further, an emphasis on the responsibility of aging individuals to prepare for the expenses of old age is key to establishing intergenerational distributive justice."

In my opinion, the edited version is easier to read. The client agreed.


Another client wrote:
"To give students the autonomy to pick and choose their learning events, from an array of learning options, is the best model for the young professional at the undergraduate level."

I changed that sentence as follows:
"The best model for the young professional at the undergraduate level gives students the autonomy to pick and choose their learning events from an array of learning options."

I trust the improvement is as instantly clear to people reading this page as it was to my client.


Finally, I would invite the prospective client to review the evolution of the following paragraph. It started out like this:

"In light of the history of tobacco industry and their practices, one must consider whose the respective interests in adding nicotine to cigarettes versus adding caffeine to soft drinks and beverages. However, it is well known that individual judgment is not an effective deterrent to the inevitable health effects suffered by tobacco. The same is true in generations of people who may or may not be adequately informed in order to give consent, ie, make informed decisions about various food void of nutrients. Yet, people will consume. Brownell and Warner submit that the tobacco industry vigilantly advertised about their partnership with public health, while they worked desperately to prevent or delay shifts in public opinion that would permit a barrage of legislative, regulatory and legal actions, eroding sales and profits (2009). Yet, we know that lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease run rampant today secondary to tobacco abuse, costing large sums in health care expenditures. Why is obesity different? Theoretically, the truth is that obesity is not different from tobacco abuse."

This choppy block of text required extensive re-work. It highlighted, or tried to highlight, some of the most important points contained in the paper. Yet I thought much of the thrust was lost in a tangle of words. So I moved some ancillary points to other, surrounding paragraphs, and I totally recast and emphasized the most important concepts. In my opinion, the new version positively sings.

"So the issue goes beyond full disclosure in packaging. The entire structure of food marketing and corporate interests comes into play. Just as it bears asking who is most served by the addition of nicotine to cigarettes, so too we should ask who is most served by the addition of caffeine to beverages, or fat to snacks. We have seen that consumers, even in full knowledge of tobacco-industry depredations, have not entirely stopped using tobacco. But they have cut back. The same is surely no less true of consumers of unhealthy foods. First of all, they may not know the content of their food choices and thus could not give knowing consent, an ethical issue in its own right. Secondly, even though some consumers would still make unhealthy choices in full knowledge of food content, that knowledge, once sufficiently widespread, can lead to better (if imperfect) choices."