By Eliza Osborn
A Glimpse at Editing Machine-Written Content
Regardless of any concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) you may have, it’s likely AI-generated writing will find its way into your clients’ projects. They may disclose it to you, or it may be something you suspect based on awkward, non-contextual, or generic-sounding wording. Editing AI-generated text can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, you can expand your editing business in timely ways.
AI-generated content requires human intellect to detect errors, improve clarity, and ensure that the output aligns with the desired purpose and tone—just like you do with every editing project. Here are some guidelines to help you effectively edit AI-generated text.
- Review for Coherence and Flow: AI-generated text may lack coherence and logical flow. Read through the content carefully, ensuring that each sentence connects logically to the preceding and succeeding ones. Identify any gaps in information or jumps in the narrative that need to be addressed. Restructure sentences, add transitional phrases, or rewrite sections to improve overall coherence and readability.
- Grammar and Punctuation: AI-generated text often contains grammatical errors, missing punctuation marks, and incorrect usage.
- Verify Facts and Accuracy: AI-generated text occasionally includes incorrect, outdated, or nonsensical information. You may need to cross-check any facts, statistics, or references mentioned in the text to ensure their accuracy.
- Adapt to the Desired Style: AI-generated text might lack a personal touch or fail to match the desired style or brand voice. Inject a human touch by incorporating appropriate vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, or industry-specific jargon. While some authors using AI know to ask for certain style guides, tense, point of view, or voice to be applied to their generated output, the technology isn’t accurate yet.
- Check for Consistency, Repetition, and Generic Phrases: AI models can sometimes generate inconsistent language usage, resulting in different terms, styles, or voices within the same piece of text. Maintain consistency in terminology, verb tense, and pronoun usage throughout the content. Align the tone and style with the intended audience and purpose. Alternately, AI models tend to generate text that is generic and may use repetitive phrases or structures. Look for instances where the writing sounds too familiar or lacks originality.
- Correct Incoherence or Lack of Contextual Understanding: AI models sometimes generate text that appears coherent on the surface but lacks deep contextual understanding. Keep an eye out for places where the writing seems to go off-topic or fails to provide meaningful responses to specific questions or prompts.
- Trim Lengthy or Overly Detailed Responses: AI models can generate lengthy responses that provide more information than necessary or include excessive details. If a writer is looking for a specific word count, the lost words can be made up by adding more human responses like those listed in the next list item.
- Fine-tune for Nuance, Opinion, and Emotion: AI-generated text often lacks emotional depth and nuanced expression. Look for places you or your client can inject emotions, empathy, experience, or humor where appropriate to make the text more engaging and relatable.
Finally, remember that you can decline AI-generated work if you’re not comfortable working in this rapidly changing landscape. If you have a Terms and Conditions or boilerplate contract in place, consider adding an AI-Generated Text Disclosure which covers the following:
- For transparency and appropriate editing services, the client must disclose any text generated or significantly assisted by AI systems.
- This includes text generated by language models, automated content generation tools, or any other AI-powered writing software.
- The client is responsible for informing you about the presence of AI-generated text in the content submitted for editing.
- Failure to disclose AI-generated text may impact the quality and suitability of the editing services provided.
- You will treat the disclosed AI-generated text with strict confidentiality and will not disclose, reproduce, or utilize it for any purpose other than providing the editing services.
- By engaging your editing services, the client acknowledges and agrees to the requirement of disclosing any AI-generated text.
Editing AI-generated text is a collaborative process between human creativity and the capabilities of AI. By carefully reviewing, refining, and customizing the content, you can transform an AI-generated draft into a polished, accurate, and compelling piece of writing that effectively serves its intended purpose.
Previously published in the August 2023 edition of the Professional Editors Network’s Networking News.
Eliza Osborn is a writer and the founder of Author Cultivation, which develops books and builds authors.
Eliza is also one of Hallard Press’ outstanding editors and formatters.
Eliza is a member of The Editorial Freelancers Association, The Professional Editors Network, ACES: The Society for Editors, The Alliance of Independent Authors, The Midwest Independent Publishers Association, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.