Getting Started with APA Editing


Posted July 23, 2013

So, you’re nearing the end of your master’s or PhD program, and you’re in the throes of writing a thesis or dissertation. Congratulations!  You’ve (almost!) done it.  But you’ve been so focused on the content of your paper that you may have nearly forgotten you will need APA editing based on APA style.  This acronym stands for “American Psychological Association,” and the manual the APA produces is the gold standard for writing academic papers for publication.

Currently, the most widely used manual is called Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition. Its extensive contents include everything you will need to make your paper approval ready, from how to write numbers to what you should include in your table of contents, but it can be overwhelming.  A copy editor who is knowledgeable in APA style can polish your paper and make it submission ready.

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BUT WHAT WILL THAT APA EDITING INCLUDE?

Every copy editor has a different procedure for approaching a project, but the basics are the same.  The editor will check for grammar, punctuation (did you know APA style, as of the 6th edition, calls for two spaces after sentence-ending punctuation?), number rules, syntax, clarity, omission of passive voice, consistency, citation inclusion and format, and much more.  The editor will usually also include notes where necessary for changes you will need to make on your own.  For instance, an editor won’t be able to glean your meaning from an incomplete or poorly structured sentence, but he or she will definitely notice that sentence needs to be rewritten and will include a comment.

Typically, the copy editor will use the Track Changes function in Word.  This function shows each and every edit, which you, the writer, can then review and accept or reject.  If your editor did a proficient job, you will be accepting nearly all the changes.

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE THIS PROCESS SMOOTHER?

There are a number of things you, the writer, can do to make the APA editing process as smooth as possible.

First, make sure all the elements of your paper are included.  For instance, if you want the editor to cross-reference your table of contents with the headings throughout the paper, first make sure to write the entire table of contents and make sure you’ve included all entries as headings in the paper’s body.

Second, if you have a particular weakness in your writing, don’t hesitate to point it out to your editor before he or she begins working. The editor will be sure to notice it anyway, but this will save some time if your editor is charging by the hour and better safe than sorry!

Three, provide the editor with your school’s guidelines in case discrepancies exist between them and standard APA style.  For instance, although APA recommends your references list be double spaced, like the rest of your paper, many colleges prefer single spacing with an extra space between each reference.

Editing is a vital part of your writing process and is well worth the investment of your time, energy, and yes, even money.  It’s important to remember that the content of your document can be compromised if the proper style isn’t utilized.  Excellent editing will help streamline your thoughts, get your ideas across more efficiently, and will also help with obtaining your school’s approval of your submitted paper.


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