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GOOD ENGLISH IS GOOD BUSINESS

 Academic Manuscripts

Let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about.
In prose, the worst thing one can do with words
is to surrender to them. —George Orwell

Original

Revised

However, despite the fact that external factors such as war, revolution, and natural disasters are the main causes of refugees leaving their homelands, this does not necessarily exclude the aspect of choice. To explain this point, I will concentrate on the case of political refugees whom this book is about.

However, even though war, revolution, and natural disasters are the main causes of refugees leaving their homelands, these external factors do not necessarily exclude the aspect of choice. In the case of the political refugees profiled in this book…

Of the following six rules set down by George Orwell in “Politics and the English Language” the first and third redlined phrases in the above example violate number 3 by taking space without giving information. To what does _this_ refer? In keeping with usage among academics writing about sociology, _the aspect of choice_ had to stay.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

In general I follow Orwell’s six rules. However, teaching English since 1968 and English as a Second Language since 2005 has given me a teacher’s approach in asking native-English-speaking as well as non-native-English-speaking professors to consider changes to their work. Copyediting the academic journals and collections named below has given me experience using MLA, CMS, APA, and AP style manuals. Thirty years of postgraduate study in English and education, 21st century coursework in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and tweaking ESL and Basic Skills theories to fit the adult students in my classrooms all contribute to my comment on others’ viewpoints.

The following example shows my query to a writer regarding cause-effect order.

Original

Revised

The socioeconomic gains of Chicanos in recent decades accelerates their dispersal throughout the region.

Or is it the other way around? That their dispersal throughout and beyond Southern California has accelerated Chicanos’ socioeconomic gains?

Testimonials:

I want to thank you warmly for your excellent and insightful comments. This was my first time working with an editor and now I understand why published
work looks so good!  It may have taken a few gos for me to get it right, but it was certainly a worthwhile learning process and I will keep your perspective in mind when writing future material. It was a pleasure working with you.
Sophia Isako Wong, 2001
(Then) Ph.D. candidate, Department of Philosophy
Columbia University


I am grateful for your careful reading and delighted with your margin notes scattered throughout the ms.  I'm curious, were you a former teacher?  You seem to have a very informed point of view on a topic that many of my special education colleagues would quickly denounce! You have my continuing appreciation.  You have been a fantastic editor and I am indeed grateful for your patience! 
Linda Ware, Professor of Education
University of Rochester

The following example shows two of the comments given to Prof. Ware.

Manuscript

Comment

In the section that follows, I describe how humanities-based disability studies scholarship has informed three seemingly disparate agendas of mine: parent, researcher and activist. After more than a decade of research in K–12 education in which I have urged educators to imagine disability otherwise and to move beyond overly determined normalizing discourses of cure and care, disability studies scholarship offers the potential to extend this critique and that offered by other critical special education scholars.4

In a way, that’s right! _Overly deterministic_ might be clearer than _overly determined_ to reflect the idea of determinism. Does that help? PAGE \# "'Page: '#'
'" What you recommend is exactly what is needed; their thinking appears to have been permanently disabled!

Audio streaming present and past: Karen, curriculum, Justin’s refusal to live in a group home, my spoiled beginnings--so many warnings reel implosion. Today, I am unsettled by this knowing.

I can see something like The warnings set me reeling. But for warnings to actively “reel implosion” is a usage I can’t visualize because _reel_ means to spin unsteadily, whereas an implosion is a violent collapse inward.

Recommendation:

In March 2001, Wendy Belcher, then cochair of UCLA Campus Editors and Writers, recommended me as a copyeditor after passing what she named “an extremely grueling copyediting test—a real-life, twenty-five page academic essay in the humanities. Very few people who took the test passed. Those who took it were scored in three areas: technical editing (correcting grammar and spelling errors); style editing (putting manuscripts into the Chicago Manual of Style); and substantive editing (improving clarity, diction, and logic). Janis Holmberg has a good grasp of the Chicago Manual of Style and is a good technical editor. Her real strength is substantive editing, where she does an excellent job of improving diction, clarity, and logic.” In addition to research, writing, and editing, Dr. Belcher is a professor of African literature at Princeton University for the Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for African American Studies. http://www.wendybelcher.com/

Academic Journals

Since 2001 I have copyedited manuscripts authored by native and non-native-English-speaking professors who contribute to journals in their field of study. After we confer, often several drafts are revised to assure clear, concise content.

My work also involves application of the Chicago Manual of Style as well as house style for correct English usage, mechanics, and note and reference format. For some projects I have reviewed proofs and incorporated specified style tags to format articles. Some clients:

Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, 2006–2007. Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.

UCLA, Los Angeles, 20052006. For Dr. Edmund Keller, Director, Globalization Research Center – Africa, the collection New Patterns of Strategic Encounter: U.S.-Africa Relations in the Era of Globalization; for Dr. Robert A. Hill, Editor-in-Chief,

The Marcus Garvey & UNIA Papers Project, African Studies Center, the collection Trustee for the Human Community: Ralph J. Bunche and the Decolonization of Africa.

Michigan State University, East Lansing, 2005. For Dr. Dionico Valdés, Director, Julian Samora Research Institute, and Dr. Jerry Garcia, Assistant Professor, Department of History, the collection Memory, Community, and Activism: Mexican Migration and Labor in the Pacific Northwest.

Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2003. For the journal Meridians (published by Indiana University Press).

Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 20012003. For the journal Hypatia.

Illinois State Board of Education, Springfield, Ill., 2001. For the Assessment Division performed a substantive copyedit of and wrote a 500-1,000 word executive summary directed to members of the State Board and the Illinois General Assembly of the 28-page document “External Review of the ISAT and Other Standardized Mathematics Tests.”

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