Some copy edits are obvious – something is spelled wrong, punctuation is missing, a word is in the wrong spot, etc. But sometimes a client will ask, “Why did you make that change?” Sometimes they just want to know, but on occasion they have an issue with a particular edit. I changed what they wrote, and they want to know why.
It’s an interesting question, as there are many reasons to rewrite a sentence or change a word. In most cases, I’ve made the change because I saw a better way of making the point, or I wanted to clarify the thought. I might have felt that the original sentence was too wordy or it needed to be restructured.
On occasion, I will reflect on the edit because the client’s question made me think about why I made the change. Was there a real reason for the rewrite? Did I want to put my stamp on the document? Did I have a problem with how it was written? Does it still work if I leave it alone? Is there another way to go?
There are several reasons why you should explain your edits to clients:
- It helps them to understand why something is right or wrong, or why a sentence reads better one way versus another, which can help to make them better writers.
- It shows that you care about making their writing better – you’re on their side, and you want to make them look good to their readers.
- It’s part of your job to explain what you’re doing to your clients. They have the right to know why you did something, and the right to decide whether to keep your edit or change it back.
When asked, I will explain why I edited the content to the client. It’s their decision to keep my edit or stick with the original version, but I will do my best to answer the question. I want to ensure that they know the reason, and if I feel strongly enough, explain why it’s the right decision. But in the end, it’s their content, and their decision.