Editing and Advocacy

5 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2022

See all articles by Patrick Barry

Patrick Barry

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: November 18, 2022


A lot of students think editing and proofreading are identical skills. I think that’s a problem. Proofreading, in my view, involves catching typos and fixing formatting. It cultivates a host of admirable qualities—patience, thoroughness, attention to detail—but it doesn’t require a whole lot of imagination. Editing, on the other hand, is a fundamentally creative act. Good editors don’t just see the sentence that was written. They see the sentence that might have been written. They know how to spot words that shouldn’t be included and summon up ones that haven’t yet appeared. Their value comes not just from preventing mistakes but also from discovering new ways to improve a piece’s style, structure, and overall impact.

With a small assist from legal philosopher H. L. A. Hart’s “Vehicles in the Park” hypothetical, this short essay offers ways to distinguish editing from proofreading. It also suggests that a special focus on editing can really enhance your advocacy.

Keywords: Editing, proofreading, writing, persuasion, advocacy

Suggested Citation

Barry, Patrick James, Editing and Advocacy (November 18, 2022). Michigan Bar Journal, U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper Forthcoming, U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4282982

Patrick James Barry (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734.763.2276 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: https://www.law.umich.edu/FacultyBio/Pages/FacultyBio.aspx?FacID=barrypj

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