Frequently Asked Questions

About Us

Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Electronic or on paper?

While we’re more than happy to edit your project on paper, or hard copy, in the more traditional manner (and of course, using purple ink unless you really want it in red), it is faster and cheaper for the editor to work on an electronic version. Purple Pen Editing uses Microsoft Word’s feature Track Changes. The needed changes and comments still appear in the document, so you know what’s been edited. We’ll return your documents to you in two versions, the Track Changes version, and a clean version so you can read through your text without the distractions of the highlighted changes.

How long will it take

How long it will take depends on the nature and complexity of the document and what you need done. Do you want just a light copy edit of a well-written document, or do you need a substantive and structural edit of a university-level textbook? Is research required? Are there many tables, charts, and graphs? Generally, copy editors can handle six to seven pages per hour, and substantive and stylistic editors manage four to six pages per hour. (A page in these cases is 250 words.) We’re more than happy to provide you with an estimate of the type of editing needed, the amount of time it will take, and the cost.

How can I reduce the costs?

There are some ways you can reduce the costs of editing and proofreading services:

  • Provide a clean, electronic version of the project. Make sure it doesn’t have any notes from your boss or marks to the graphic designer.
  • Electronic is cheaper than paper. We’re more than happy to edit your project on paper, but it is faster and cheaper for the editor to work on a computer. The needed changes and comments still appear in the document, using the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word so you know what’s been edited. Your documents come back to you in two versions, the Track Changes version, and a clean version so you can read your edited text without the distractions of the highlighted changes.
  • Deal with basic corrections. Are there any squiggly green or red underlines in your electronic document? It may be a misspelled word, a misplaced comma, a passive tense, or a subject-verb disagreement. The more of those squiggles you deal with before sending it for editing, the less the editor has to do.
  • Now, some of those squiggly lines may only indicate that you’ve used a contraction, and that’s perfectly OK in the right context. Sometimes, the passive tense is the correct tense!

  • Be realistic about the level of editing you need. If all you really need is a proofread, it should come back to you from the editor with only three or four minor corrections per page. More than that, and it’s copy editing. And if sentences or paragraphs need to be moved around, it’s structural editing.
  • Provide the correct version. If a document is going through a number of revisions, be sure that you’ve provided the editor with the most recent. You still have to pay for the time spent on the older version sent before you discovered that it was the wrong one.

What can affect the cost

There are a number of good reasons why the overall cost may go up or down:

  • How soon do you need it? A tight deadline may mean that the editor has to set aside other work, and spend more hours in a single day to get it done in time.
  • How complex is your project? For example, does it have a lot of facts, or tables and graphs that need to be checked?  Are there a number of different pieces that have to be consistent in content but have different end uses (an article, a brochure and a speech for example)? Is research needed to confirm facts presented in the text?
  • Have we worked together before? Familiarity with your style, your needs, and your audience help to reduce the effort and time needed to give you a perfect finished product.
  • What’s your budget? If you have a limited amount of money to spend, you may have to settle for only copy editing or only copy editing and limited substantive editing, which would fall somewhere between the two ranges.  You’ll pay a little more than for copy editing, but less than for restructuring your document.
  • How good is your writing? If there are many grammatical difficulties or poor sentence structure, more effort is required to smooth out the flow and still keep the flavour of your style.

How do I determine what type of service I need?
Definition of services

We’re more than happy to help you determine what service you need. The following definitions apply to the services offered at Purple Pen Editing. More detail, and definitions of other services often offered by editors, can be found at the Editors’ Association of Canada website.


  • Reading proofs of edited manuscript
  • Identifying and marking errors in print-ready text, design, or layout

Copy editing

  • Fixing errors in grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation
  • Establishing and maintaining a clear and consistent style
  • Establishing and maintaining a consistent style for all diagrams, charts, and tables
  • Verifying that figures add up and that information presented in charts and tables is clear and logical

Plain language editing

  • Simplifying material to make it readily understood to its intended audience

Structural/Substantive editing

  • Editing for content, organization, and transitions
  • Recognizing and marking contradictions in logic and details
  • Revising or cutting copy to meet length requirements, if necessary
  • Changing the structure of the text, the order of paragraphs, organization of the work, flow of thought
  • Suggesting deletions, additions, and rearrangements as required

Stylistic editing

  • Adapting or changing the style or tone of the text to suit a specific purpose or audience
  • Identifying potentially inaccurate or offensive statements
  • Clarifying meaning, checking reading level


  • Creating a new document based on research and material provided by an author or authors
  • Conducting some research and writing of original material