The Mechanical Edit

Hello everyone. Many apologies for not being back in a little while to get up the next Five Types of Editing installment. I have been very busy with the release of The Shulim Cycle Book of Susan and lots and lots of editing work. Now that I have a moment, however, I wanted to pick up where we left off: The Mechanical Edit.

The Mechanical Edit is usually the edit that authors look at and say “I hate editing.” This is a line by line edit, however it is not looking at sentence structure, voice, and transition. Instead, the Mechanical edit is concerned with four primary aspects of the work:

  • Grammar – Noun/verb agreement, proper use of prepositions, etc. Did you use words correctly – Their/there/they’re, lie/lay, for example.
  • Punctuation – Are commas, semi-colons, and periods used correctly? Are quotations punctuated properly?
  • Spelling – Did you spell words correctly? This catches not only misspellings, but also words spelled correctly, just not in context. Examples include no and not, though and thought, etc.
  • Specific Mechanical Needs – Citations, captions, and text separations are also included in the mechanical edit.

The Mechanical or Copy Edit is just what it sounds like. It is the mechanical form of the written word, making sure everything is smooth and correct. It is often called Copy Editing because it is the editing step that leads from manuscript to copy – or print.

This is one of the most boring types of editing unless you just really love editing. It is tedious and good editors have different methods they use to keep their eyes from tiring out. I personally recommend breaking up the editing work into neat segments, completing one, and then doing something else to let your eyes and mind refocus. After about 30 minutes to an hour, return to the editing at hand and work on the next segment.

Myth – A Mechanical Edit is just proofreading.

A Mechanical Edit is a close, thorough read of the manuscript. Yes, a mechanical edit is the “polish” edit of a work. That polish, however, requires a great deal of work and attention. It requires referencing, as you check your style guide to determine if a comma should be used or if a semi-colon is required. You are looking for common and uncommon mistakes that can catch any writer.

I will talk in more detail about Proofreading later. The important thing to remember with a Mechanical Edit is that:

  • Every work needs it.
  • It requires a great deal of attention and scrutiny.

Yes, you put your work through a Line Edit. While some editors may include a Mechanical Edit as part of their services, understand that what they are providing to you is two different edits. If finances, time, or whatever circumstance has you doing your own edit – maybe this is just a short story, not a novel this time – or you are hunting for new editors and are confused as to why your manuscript still has errors after the Line Edit, well, now you know.

Mechanical Edits are long and tedious beasts. They are also vital if you want your work to be clean and polished. This type of edit is one that you simply cannot ignore.

So that is the Mechanical Edit, then. The next time we meet, I will be talking about Format Editing and offering some tips to help make it, and your fight with online self-publishing platforms, a little easier.

Until then, good reading and writing.



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