Re: How to edit constructively?

Subject: Re: How to edit constructively?
From: "Valerie J. Archambeau" <varchamb -at- MIDWAY -dot- UCHICAGO -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 15:33:56 -0600

At 3:57 PM 2/28/96, Glenda Jeffrey wrote:
>Can anyone post some suggestions on how to edit a writer's work so
>that you help the writer to improve? That is, what is the best way
>to supply constructive criticism?
<<SNIP>>

You may want to try using "readerly comments (from my days as a "writing
fellow" at the university where I wasn't *allowed* to correct student
papers). Read through the document as if you were a user; point out where
you get lost or confused, or where you simply do not have enough
inforamtion.

Sometimes it is not enough to say, "this sentence is awkward/clumsy." It
may be more helpful to the writer to say, "I'm not sure what you're trying
to say here," "I forget the subject by the time I get to the object in this
sentence," or "I need more information about this."

These comments are more mentoring than editorial; a judicious mix of the
two may help to improve both the document and the writer's skill.

When I edit work for my colleagues, I usually let them know that it is a
"rough edit" where only the most glaring of errors will be marked (the
document still has many a mark on it, though).

--Valerie

PS: My Writing Fellow supervisor suggests using a green pen to mark
errors--still easy to spot on the page, less like the papers we remember
getting back in grammar school.


~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*

Valerie Archambeau varchamb -at- midway -dot- uchicago -dot- edu
Academic Computing Services 312/702-4665
The University of Chicago

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
--Samuel Johnson


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