Tweed Editing's Blog

Tips, Strategies, and Updates for Academic Writers

Push Your Scholarship Further: Developmental Editing

Developmental Editing Pushing Scholarship Further

Much of the work I do with faculty and recent PhDs is developmental in nature. That means that I’m not tweaking their grammar or even improving their diction on the sentence level. I’m helping authors push their research so that it achieves more for them.

Developmental editing produces scholarship that is argumentatively sound. The manuscripts I’ve developed say more—and more effectively—than they were able to say otherwise.

All of that is very nice, and better scholarship may indeed be an end in itself. But that’s not all developmental editing accomplishes. It’s not even the most important outcome.

Once a project—as a nascent idea, a proposal sketch, or a complete manuscript—is developmentally edited, it is poised to go places.

It’s positioned to be accepted by the right academic journal. It’s ripe for an acquisitions editor to pick for his university press’s catalog.

A developmentally edited research project has legs. Publishing outlets and funding agencies take a look and know exactly what to do with it. It’s legible to the audiences that matter for its success.

Ultimately, having those kinds of projects in your portfolio gives your career momentum. Whether you consider yourself a lifelong professor, independent scholar, or writer of another sort, pushing your ideas will push you toward your professional goals, too.

Here’s what I’m helping scholars do when we work together developmentally:

  • Reframe so that the research is addressing a salient, timely concern or question.
  • Reorganize so that the best ideas aren’t buried under scholarly apparatus.
  • Reprioritize so that the reader’s experience—not a chronological recounting of the background research process—is paramount.
  • Rejuvenate the whole project by finding and dealing with the clunky components weighing everything down.
  • Push past the obvious, the tired, the inconsequential.

Over in the services section of this site, I’ve written a little more about what Tweed developmental editing looks like, especially in the context of an early-career book. I’ve also worked with scholars to develop their journal articles and contributions to edited volumes.

Pushing ideas developmentally is my favorite kind of work, and it gets results. Because of our partnerships, my clients have secured book contracts and had their articles accepted by top journals.

Working with me on a developmental level does require some forethought. It’s not a last-minute quick fix for your writing.

So if you have a project that isn’t as animated as it needs to be, or isn’t getting the traction you know it deserves, start a conversation with me soon. A little dialogue will help you discern whether developmental editing is the right move for you at this time.

Keep your mind sharp, your pen ready, and your editor on speed dial!

From Katie

Find Tweed on Facebook and Twitter (where I post the most resources)!

From Common Sense to Winter Genius


One of an editor’s jobs is cultivating in authors the habit of planning ahead. It makes sense: to get the most out of my services, you have to have the time to engage them in the first place. But budgeting time and funds are strengths not necessarily associated with the scholarly lifestyle.

That’s why I’m issuing this friendly professional reminder.

If you want to work with me to move your manuscript from draft to publishable scholarship, let me know in advance.

Put another way, if you want to transform winter into a productive, verdant season for your writing, drop me a line. I have some availabilities in January and beyond. If you’re quick about it, I might be able to sneak you in before the new year (or at least get a start on your project, if it’s a lengthy one).

How do you know whether we’d make a good professional team?

The clients who make the most of my services have clear research trajectories and real passion for making a difference in the academy and beyond. It’s only fitting, then, that I edit with your broader scholarly career in mind. And I’m delighted to entertain your questions while you’re investigating your options. Again, just drop me a line to get a conversation going.

Wishing you the best that winter has to offer,

From Katie

Contact Tweed Academic Editing

Put a Badge on It

A few chillier days in Portland have made something abundantly clear to me: summer may be over. Part of me doesn’t want to concede that it’s already the traditional time to hit the books, to start new intellectual projects, and to redouble efforts toward goals.

As everyone transitions into back-to-school mode, I find myself struck by what you’ve helped me build with Tweed Editing.

You all keep inviting me to work on incredible projects, and at all stages of execution. I’m now performing developmental and line editing with faculty across the country almost as much as I’m copyediting manuscripts for presses, dissertators, and professors.

Without fail, your editing assignments open my eyes to novel avenues of research and to fresh ways of looking at perplexing phenomena.

I almost feel like an editing scout, earning merit badges left and right—which gave me an idea for way to reinvest creatively in Tweed. Some sewing skills, an iron, a background in Girl Scouting, and a bit of free time begat this:

Tweed Scout

This summer I took a lakeside hike to the council ring built on the site of the first Boy Scout encampment (1910, Silver Bay, New York). That’s where I am in this picture, and I’m wearing a sash covered with insignia that all have to do with research, writing, and editing.

There’s a badge for bookmaking, one for blogging, one for drinking coffee, another for mastering homonyms, and many for academic pursuits. The “Editor” patch on my shoulder actually designates, of all things, a position within Harley-Davidson motorcycle clubs—talk about feeling formidable.

Simple, silly pleasures like this sash add some spice to the scholarly career, but the main course of this intellectual life is always sustained engagement with well-conceived and thoughtfully executed research and reflection.

Hearty thanks for feeding my mind.

I wish you all an invigorating autumn full of badge-worthy endeavors.

From Katie

Lost in Spaces (between Sentences)

If you’re submitting articles to journals or shopping around your scholarly book proposal, content is key. But when you also adhere closely to a publisher’s or journal’s style guidelines, you demonstrate professionalism and your ability to honor parameters. It shows that you can work in the service of something larger than your own project.

If you could do something simple to send the subtle message that your submission fits and enhances the image of your target journal or press, would you do it?

Attention to details—like the spaces between sentences—can give your work a leg up. Luckily, there are only a couple dominant standards for the number of spaces between sentences: one space or two. And the best way to enforce consistent between-sentence spacing is by using a function built right into Microsoft Word: find and replace.

(For a basic introduction to this feature, here is Microsoft’s own guide. Find-and-replace functionality is available in every version of Word I’ve ever had, but this link is specifically for Office 2010. I believe find and replace operations are also possible in Google Documents and OpenOffice, but I can’t vouch for some of the advanced techniques below. If you try them out, let me know your results!)

These tips are tried and true, but before you make any big find-and-replace moves, save your document! That way, if anything goes haywire, your precious work remains unharmed.

Chicago and MLA: One Space

Chicago and MLA styles go by the one-space standard. No matter how many times you accidentally hit the space bar while typing your manuscript, achieving only one space after every period is very easy. All you have to do is leverage the find-and-replace function in Microsoft Word. Just find ”  ” (two spaces, leave out the quotation marks) and replace with ” ” (one space, no quotation marks).

You can even do a replace-all operation because there’s really no good reason to need two spaces together. (Please, please, don’t use multiple spaces to create an indent or tab. That can be a big mess for your future copyeditor, who is often appointed by your publisher.)

After you replace all once, do it again and again until the report back indicates that zero replacements were made. This way, you catch not just instances of two spaces in a row but also three spaces in a row, four in a row, and so on.

APA and the Two-Space Standard

APA style, however, follows a different system:

  • space twice between sentences
  • only space once between elements of a reference list (APA Publication Manual § 4.01)

For two spaces between sentences, you can’t just do the reverse of what I’ve suggested for Chicago and MLA—that would make every single space two spaces. Instead, use the find-and-replace function with wildcards enabled—it’s a check box in the expanded section of the find-and-replace dialogue.

Once you’ve enabled wildcards, type (.) ([A-Z]) in the find field. That indicates that you’re looking for a period, followed by one space and then a capital letter. In the replace field, you’ll type 1  2. That’s a backslash, the numeral 1, two spaces, another backslash, and the numeral 2. Hit “find next,” not “replace all.” Essentially, the first value within parentheses becomes 1, and the second parenthetical value becomes 2.


Be careful as you go through the results of this search: it will turn up every string of a period, a space, and then a capital letter. That’s why you won’t be using “replace all,” which would apply this rule indiscriminately, in the wrong situations:

  • after ellipses (three spaced periods), as in “. . . [And then the next sentence starts]”
  • between initials and between initials and last names (“R. A. Somebody”)
  • with some locator numbers, as in “art. II” of the Constitution
  • between elements in reference lists

It may take some time to move through your whole document. You’ll be pressing “replace” when the period, space, and capital letter represent the end of one sentence and the beginning of another. In every other case (such as the ones above), you’ll be hitting “find next” instead. If you misclick, go to your document window and undo that last move (Edit > Undo; control + z, on a Windows machine; or command + Z, on a Macintosh).

At the end of all this, you’ll know that you’ve upheld APA style with respect to spaces between sentences.

Ready for Other Applications for Wildcards?

If you want to find all instances of a period and a space followed by any number or letter, use ([0-9A-z]) as your second term instead of just ([A-Z]). Similarly, if you just want instances of a period and a space followed by a number, go with ([0-9]). If you want to turn up all instances that end in a lowercase or capital letter, do ([A-z]). Catch the pattern?

If you want a more thorough introduction to powerful find-and-replace techniques, including a complete list of wildcard operators, grab this free guide over at the Editorium. (The document is written for writers and editors alike.)

Now your document is in closer conformity with the operative style guide. Following style preferences allows the gatekeepers—acquisitions editors, peer reviewers, and editorial boards—to imagine your manuscript in their catalogs and journals. If you’ve mastered the spaces between sentences, next try choosing a typeface (usually one with serifs) that matches or emulates what you see previous works published by your target outlet.