Undergraduate Writing: Fresh, Lean and Clean Writing


Image of blue pencils and blue erasers.
The eBook cover of “Undergraudate Writing: Fresh, Lean and Clean Writing.”


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The first page of Undergraduate Writing on Amazon eBook preview.

Published on: https://www.amazon.com/Undergraduate-Writing-Fresh-Lean-Clean-ebook/dp/B00AOB896M

Stakes of Writing Excerpt PDF

Stakes of Writing Style Guide PDF

Project Overview

As a project for my Editing class in Fall 2017, we were required to edit two manuscripts in a team of four people. This eBook was the first project we were given: it was a published work from another professor on the campus. He requested our help in cleaning up his book about writing for freshmen, as he had received reviews and comments from people online that his book had errors and problems with it. We needed to content and copy edit, and proofread the document so it would be ready for online publication and reading. Periodically through the editing process, we would send what we had edited to the professor for his comments and thoughts.

Project Plan and Responsibilities

Over the course of a month, my team and I went through several edits and revisions of the manuscript to find grammatical, content, and consistency errors. At the end of the process, we also edited the document for better format when it was published, which would help with readability. We frequently consulted the Chicago Style Manual to make sure that the transcript was in line with the standards set for written content. Several times, we debated different edits we had made of the transcript and convince the others why we think something needed to change or didn’t. I was in charge of keeping track of the changes we made to master copy of the transcript (each of us had our own manuscript, and pooled our edits together in one copy) and to make sure that our style guide was updated. The style guide explained to our client and our professor the changes we made throughout the transcript and why we did it. Some examples of what we put in the style guide include:

“Use an em dash to set off examples within a sentence:

  • “endless reading alternatives—blogs, tweets, texts”
  • “Presidents of modern times—Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan—were also the”

Use a comma to introduce a quote within a sentence:

  • “sampled a line that read, “for the United States…”

Use a colon to introduce good and bad examples:

  • One student wrote: ☹ “As soon as he received recognition; Mao abandoned his ideas.”

Use a comma to introduce a blockquote:

  • Look at how E.B. White…used verbs to powerful effect in this passage from The Trumpet of the Swan,

Counselors sprinted to the waterfront. They jumped into canoes and rowboats
and started for the drowning boy. One counselor kicked his moccasins off, dove
in, and began swimming toward Applegate. Mr. Brickle raced to the dock,
climbed to the diving tower, and directed the rescue operation, shouting through
a megaphone.”

Some of the changes that we made were rejected by the client, even though we felt that they would help improve the overall quality of the document. Most of the changes, however, were accepted by our client and are in the process of being worked on the current version of eBook.

Project Results

While we were editing this manuscript, my-then boyfriend had to read this book for his class and commented on the errors and problems he noticed. Our edits will help future freshmen who come to BYU-Idaho and take classes from our client not focus on the errors, but rather the content of the book.

This project was invaluable in teaching me how to edit professionally and rely on sources such as dictionaries, style guides, and editing guidebooks to make sure that the transcript became the best that it could be. I learned the differences between content editing, copy editing, and proofreading, and how to work with a client’s needs and decisions. And, in working with my group, I learned what was important to edit and what sometimes needed to be left alone. When I first edited my transcript alone, I felt that my edits were important, but when we discussed the changes together as a group, I realized that there were different or better edits we could make.

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