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How to make editing easier

Editing requires a pro-active approach to make sure the management of your work is submission ready; on time, on budget, and maintains high quality. Proofreading and editing can accelerate the review process.

Draft a scope of work identifying relevancy of the priorities and issues in populations, prevalence and social justice,

Epidemiological data, risk factors, major inequities, life expectancies, mortality rates, hospitalisation rates and access to services can all be used to measure health priorities.

In a research team, by establishing parameters of authorship, content development and respecting key stakeholder values,

authentic writing of a multi-authored research document can result in optimal outcomes and authorship confidence.

Identify and correct your unnoticed language errors and avoid errata, expressions of concern, and retractions.

Think like a publisher and know what looking for:

  • a complete manuscript

  • tone - active, formal, sophisticated and engaging

  • optimal ordering of text

  • any errors of facts

  • spacing

  • correct in-text data referencing to tables and figures

  • unclear or non-essential repetition of text

  • out of date referencing

  • easy reading

  • spelling, grammar, punctuation

  • syntax

  • levels in headings

  • accuracy and referencing

  • consistency in abbreviations and units of measurement

  • table, graphs and chart information match text

  • bias

  • correctness in chemical structures

  • adherence to APA format

  • quality of visual illustrations

  • good quality display in photographs, tables and illustrations

  • plagiarism

  • adherence to length

  • precision and elimination of jargon

  • fulfilment of answers to questions

  • advancing of knowledge in a field (Bajwa & Sawhney, 2016).

After a publisher reads the document for the first time identification will be made for macro-editing or substantive editing. Most documents need micro-editing. Journal publishers categorise the need for literacy macro-editing in the criteria for resubmissions.


Seperate the editing process into multiple steps:



Materials and methods







Writing style


Creating a process ensures the issues are identified, reviewed and corrected.

Editing enables qualification of submission requirements and improvement in applicant profile.

Clear, Good English...what does it mean?


Summarise the main theme of the article to reflect your contribution to theory by:

- identifying a subject that has been confusing or difficult to understand

- calling attention to conflicting subjects or confusing topics

- being bold and assertive.

Well planned paragraphs

Identify your topic sentence (give limits in the discussion).

Ensure there is a supportive sentence (statistics, reasons, facts and quotations).

Only include a summary sentence if needed (to enable elegance and flow.

One main idea is needed per paragraph for logic ordering.

Establish sentence length depending on tone, logic, appearance.

Only shorten sentences and paragraphs to give emphasis.

Relate all sentences in a paragraph.

Seperate complex statements.

Identify the number of signposts needed.

Include word and heading signposts.

Use transition words for logical structure between paragraphs.

Be creative with paragraphs like you would with punctuation....enhance visually aesthetic.

Organise sentence structure in the order of:

  1. verb

  2. noun

  3. pronoun

  4. adjective

  5. adverb

  6. preposition

  7. conjunction

  8. article (Montagnes, 1991).

Make order in a sentence (verb, nouns and then pronouns).

Use verbs in active voice.

Deliver complex ideas clearly and include explicit examples.

Write with declarative sentence pattern.

Focus on power and sensory word to create rich sentences.

Use correct terminology for organisations, groups and names.

Keep impacting sentences short and varied.

Remove unnecessary small word clusters.

Use words

Correctly generalise or specify with words.

Use concrete and specific language for clarity and vivid descriptions.

Avoid ambiguous words (not appropriate for international readers).



Plan your process in editing, list the changes needed and prioritise them.

Check for tone in the journal you are applying. If it is a presentation at a conference, look online for saved PPT files from previous presenters. For online journals, identify if there is any specific emphasis on theoretical concepts, historical influences, and specific styles.

Examine your content with adherence to text order.

Avoid repetition by using personal pronouns and removing redundancies.

Use reliable and relevant referencing applicable to the journal (up-to-date, out-of-date and timeless).

Check for syntax, your use of articles, transitional phrases, consistency in tense, subject verb agreement, auxiliary, pluralisation and preposition,

Understand the system in heading levels.

Know your style (APA) and have your favourite referencing guides ready.

Strategically reference by going to the source,

Perform a readability tests either online or manually (WebpageFX and Readability Formulas).

Print it on paper.


Suggested Reading



Bajwa. S. J. S., & Sawhney, C. (2016). Preparing manuscript: Scientific writing for publication. Indian Journal of Anaesthesia, 60(9), 674–678. doi:10.4103/0019-5049.190625

Montagnes, I. (1991). Editing and publication: A training manual. Manila: International Rice Research Institute.


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