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Substantive Editing

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
—Edwin Schlossberg, designer (1945- )

Substantive editing includes proofreading and copyediting as well as rewriting and restructuring at the sentence and paragraph levels.

Sound substantive editing recasts and tightens sentences, improves paragraph unity and coherence, and heightens focus, readability, and reader buy-in.

The process of substantive editing engenders a symbiotic partnership between author and editor.

In addition to the before-and-after example below, see an example of some of the questions and revisions I would fax to Dr. Clark, he would review, and we would then discuss for an hour or two over the telephone.



Electric power and water supply have experienced the same fate of housing and transportation. Constant blackouts and total or permanent lack of water supply have plagued the Cuban citizen, particularly after the end of the Soviet subsidy. These two infrastructure factors, that were never before Castro were in such a serious condition, have contributed to make the life of the average Cuban increasingly difficult, if not unbearable.

In addition, average Cubans experience constant blackouts and a total and permanent lack of water — never in such seriously short supply before Castro but particularly acute since the end of the Soviet subsidy. Such daily privation exacerbates an existence of substandard housing, long lines, and reduced rations.


January 2009:

I have known Janis for over ten years. Throughout these years we established an excellent working relationship. On her part it included highly professional, thorough, and masterful work in editing the English version of my 800-page book, Cuba: Myth and Reality, and other professional literature. Working at a distance via fax, telephone, and e-mail, Janis displayed patience, flexibility, and cultural awareness. There is no question that the final product was an excellent scholarly written work.

Juan M. Clark, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus Sociology
Miami Dade College
Miami, Florida


 Detailed Example

Translation Example

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