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Common comments: What do they mean?

Red Pen Bristol (RPB) has a few regular comments. Using consistent comments help our editors to work faster! Consistent comments also help our clients to review changes more easily.


The following are RPB’s most common comments.


Verify. We’re asking, “Is this what you meant here?” This comment directs your attention to sentences that we need you to review carefully. These sentences are now grammatically clear, but originally were confusing to the editor.


Perhaps… We’re offering a suggestion. If this comment isn’t prefaced with “Unclear”, then it’s usually a proposal for more precise vocabulary or more compact phrasing. 


Define ‘this’. Vague pronouns are a frequent problem. RPB encourages writers to use ‘this / that / these / those’ as adjectives rather than pronouns, e.g., ‘This proposal is new’ vs. ‘This is new.’ If a pronoun is unclear, we’ll ask you to give the noun itself instead. We might similarly ask What’s ‘that’? or Who are ‘they’?


Questionable phrasing. A sentence can be grammatically correct but still have a potential issue like wordiness or poor vocabulary choice(s). This comment usually includes a suggestion or a question to explain what the editor found concerning or confusing.


Unclear. We always do our best to give clients options. However, sometimes we just can’t guess what you mean. In that rare case, this targeted comment identifies any phrases in a paper that need more attention.