Technical or Standard Editing: Which Do I Need?


You’ve lost sleep, skipped meals, and as for a social life, what’s that?  But you have that paper well-researched and have just put the finishing touches on the last draft. Now you want someone else, a professional, to examine your baby and make sure it’s as perfect as possible. After all, a course grade, maybe a degree, is riding on that sucker. But what sort of editing do you need, standard or technical editing?  What level of editing will ensure that the fruits of your labor are presented as clearly and accurately as possible?

Technical or Standard Editing: Which do I Need?

For term papers, research papers, theses, dissertations, and even journal articles, your best bet is professional editing. Why?

Well, let’s look at standard editing first. An editor doing a standard edit will check for subject-verb agreement and other grammatical gaffes. Then make sure verb tenses are correct in context, alert you to continuity problems and often suggest fixes, and so forth.

“But that’s what I need, right?” you ask, scratching your head in confusion.

Well, yes, you need that and more; and that’s where technical editing comes in.

When an editor does a professional edit, s/he does all of the above plus—and this is a critical plus—they check your citations/footnotes, references, captions, headings, and subheadings for accuracy and adherence to the style guide required by your instructor, committee, or journal. In addition, the editor will provide feedback on how the paper reads and alert you to areas that might confuse the reader or that look as if they’re missing citations.

“Oh, nobody ever actually looks at the citations and references,” you laugh, shrugging.

Trust me: they do. Profs can be almost insanely persnickety about things like margins and proper in-text citations, and if your content is amazingly well-written but you used the wrong margins or the wrong style guide, what you’ve written won’t matter. The professor may fail you anyway. After all that hard work, your paper could be rejected because of easily fixable errors that a professional editor could have caught and corrected.

This is where technical editing can be a lifesaver…and may be a degree-saver, too. Take the time to have your paper edited by a professional, and be sure to ask for a technical edit. Professional technical editing by a firm such as FirstEditing can make certain glaring technical errors don’t obscure your glowing content.

Originally posted 4/6/2009 and happily updated 11/14/2017. Thanks for reading!

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