Write On!, 1021 WYBJ, Vol. 44 No. 5. 58

AuthorJohn H. Ridge, J.D., Ph.D.
PositionVol. 44 5 Pg. 58

Write On!

No. Vol. 44 No. 5 Pg. 58

Wyoming Bar Journal

October, 2021

Developing Effective Editing Skills

Part 3

John H. Ridge, J.D., Ph.D.

Fort Collins, Colorado

In Part 1 of this article series we introduced the six stages of effective editing: (i) familiarization, (ii) organizational editing, (iii) stylistic editing, (iv) grammatical editing, (v) proofreading, and (vi) rule compliance.1 Part 1 also included a discussion of the first stage. In Part 2, we continued with the second and third stages.2 In this third and final article in the series, we discuss the remaining three stages and conclude with an editing checklist.

Stage Four: Grammatical Editing

While not the most difficult stage of editing, grammatical editing can be the most tedious. The success of an editor at this stage depends in large part on the editor’s familiarity with the grammar guides discussed in Part 1. Good editors build in time to read these guides on a regular basis.

At this stage, we are looking for mistakes in grammar and punctuation. Some of the common grammar errors to look for include subject-verb agreement, nominalizations, the use of passive voice, the incorrect use of that versus which, misplaced modifiers, dangling modifiers, and pronoun disagreement. Some of the common punctuation mistakes to look for include misplaced or missing quotation marks, misused apostrophes, the incorrect use or overuse of semicolons, and the incorrect placement of hyphens and dashes.

The use of an editing checklist can be invaluable in helping an editor review the document for mistakes. The list should include grammar and punctuation errors that are frequently made by the writer or writers for whom the editor is working. The checklist should also include specific items that the editor needs to be reminded to check on each and every document. We all have blind spots for certain grammatical or punctuation errors, which our minds seem to skip right over when we are reading. A checklist can help us remember to look for those errors.

Stage Five: Proofreading

Hopefully by this stage most of the errors in a document have been identified and the corrections or changes have been made. But all of us have filed documents only to have our mistakes pointed out to us later, such as “requesting a three day trail.” Other common mistakes include asking for advise instead of advice, confusing principal and principle, and...

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