3 Reasons Why You Need an English Editor

← Back To Resources

3 Reasons Why You Need an English Editor

A prior Online English Editor post looked at the differences between proofreading and editing. The post articulated how the editorial process can improve the structure, flow and clarity of a paper.

Expanding on the same topic, this post looks more closely at the benefits of working with a professional English editor.  

What is meant by editing?

It is important to note that “editing” is a very general term.  It has very different meanings in different contexts, geographical locations and settings. Even within narrow writing genres or publishing industries, the term “editing” can have wide-ranging meanings. 

This post looks at editorial benefits in a general sense. Sub-categories of editing include: structural editing, copy editing, substantive editing, academic editing and developmental editing. For a more detailed look at these and other types of editing, check out our post on the topic.

So, here are three reasons you should engage a professional English editor.

#1 Avoiding Getting Lost in the Trees

You are likely familiar with the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees”. The expression refers to the risk of being so close to the details of something that you lose sight of the big picture. 

This risk can be particularly acute for writers. They spend a significant amount of time in the details of word selection, sentence structure, tone, and grammar. It’s no surprise that the details that can bog down a writer are endless. 

Combined with the details is the fact that most writing is done autonomously. This combination of ingredients creates the perfect recipe for losing sight of how your overall manuscript, essay, dissertation or other document hangs together.

A Holistic View

An editor looks at a text with a fresh set of eyes and identifies overarching issues. These are issues that may not be apparent to the writer. Examples include: 

Communicating Effectively 

Writers are often subject matter experts on the topics they write about. This is a natural outcome of the amount of time spent with the details of particular subject matter, but these details can create challenges when communicating findings to readers. This challenge can be particularly acute when the audience is not equally informed on the topic. 

A professional English editor can help manage this risk and work with the writer to ensure they are effectively communicating their expertise. 

#2 Is the Language Clear, Elegant and Natural? 

Language is an art that is influenced by many rules. Inexperienced writers sometimes confuse adherence to English rules as achieving good writing.

In fact, it is possible to write something that is 100% correct in spelling, punctuation, and grammar, yet be very poorly written.  An English editor seeks to improve the quality of the written word beyond just ensuring that it adheres to language rules.  

Editors Apply a Full Arsenal of Tools
Editors can also help with spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Grammatically Correct, Yet Still Written Poorly

Some common ways in which writing may be mechanically correct, yet written poorly, are:

A classic example of writing being mechanically correct, but poorly written is the use of passive voice.  There are no rules in the English language that prohibits the use of the passive voice, but in most contexts, it is not the most appropriate voice to use.  The passive voice is characterized by sounding weak and unconvincing.  

Ensuring Your Writing Does More than Comply with Rules

Working with a professional English editor allows you to ensure that your paper does more than comply with English language rules.  A good English editor will assist you in making your writing sound natural and appropriately suited for your audience.  

#3 Correction of Language Errors

The above two points looked at how an expert English editor can help with the comprehensive elements of your paper and ensure that you are communicating clearly and naturally. These big picture benefits can be complemented by the editor serving as an additional set of eyes and identifying and addressing spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues.     

An editor may also address items that are typically associated with the proofreading process, including:  

Editing is Wider in Scope than Proofreading

Many proofreaders will address the above mechanical writing issues without addressing more comprehensive writing issues.  Similarly, most word processors these days are able to address common mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar.  However, these software programs are not able to assist with the complex issues that separate ordinary writing from great writing, which is the editor’s job.   

A Good Editor Doesn’t Forget the Details 

A good editor has a strong command of the English language and can assist with issues in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  What good would it be to have all the right information but get poor marks on a paper or be rejected by an academic journal because of incorrect spelling or erroneous punctuation? 


An expert and professional editor will take a holistic approach to your writing. This will seek to improve the structure, flow, and clarity of your paper.  At the same time, an editor is likely to address issues in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  All of these contributions improve the quality of your writing and move you closer to writing success! 

Post by Online English Editor.  

Online English Editor provides editing and proofreading services to academics, students and professionals.