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This is the second in a series about what editors do, and why your mom is not a substitute for a professional copy or developmental editor. Though we love your mom. She’s nice.

Because writers can’t un-know what they know in their heads, we often write in unclear ways. This is one of the core functions editors perform: making things clear, or sometimes more clear. It’s often called disambiguation.

Here’s an example:

The author wrote on the CN Tower’s famous glass floor.

Readers could logically assume that the author wrote about the CN Tower, but it’s also logical for a reader to imagine an author sitting on the glass floor and scribbling into her notebook. Or even scrawling her name in pen on the glass, though security would escort her out.

So to make it clear (to disambiguate)…

The author wrote about the CN Tower’s famous glass floor.

A tiny change, to be sure, but remember that we are trying to reduce any hesitation or confusion on your reader’s part.

Next week: concision.