Welcome to Elegant Words!

The hallmarks of good writing are readability, elegance and individuality – I believe in giving these equal weight in the editorial process. Readability and individuality are easy to define but what is elegance?

Elegant English, as described by Robert Hartwell Fiske in The Dimwit’s Dictionary, is “expressed with music as well as meaning, with style as well as substance”. Whether simple or complex, it is pleasing prose that flows gracefully.

Why choose me to work with your words? Because I take great care with them. Whether you’ve written a website or a work of literature you had good reasons for choosing particular words – I am always sensitive to those reasons. I ensure not only that your writing is clear, error-free and consistent, but also that it is elegant and that it retains the individual voice and character you would like it to have.

My sensitive treatment of my clients’ words has resulted in a very high level of repeat business: more than 90% of my work consists of further commissions and referrals from satisfied customers.

In the last 15 years I have worked on over 300 full-length books, about 3000 medico-legal reports (expert witness reports), more than 2500 school reports, around 180 course units for distance learning courses, several thousand practice exam questions for students preparing for medical school examinations, and a large number of reports, reviews, evaluations and proposals for government agencies, NGOs, international development consultancies and multi-donor organisations.

Below is a brief summary of what I offer, but please explore my website for more information. And I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to contact me.

My main areas of expertise:

  • Medical, health and medico-legal (translation, proofreading, copy-editing, formatting, transcription): autism and Aspergers, ADHD/ADD, global health issues, medico-legal reports, anatomy and physiology, mental health, psychology, psychiatry, environmental science, biology, life sciences, nursing, complementary/alternative medicine, medical communications, nutrition/food science, sport and fitness.
  • European and international issues (translation, proofreading, copy-editing, formatting): international development aid, global health, gender equality, poverty, education, environment, climate change, social cohesion, cultural heritage.
  • Fiction (proofreading, copy-editing): specialist areas include literary, young adult, science fiction, thriller/suspense, crime, detective, mystery, adventure, epistolary and fantasy, although I will consider most types of novel.
  • Other specialist areas (translation, proofreading, copy-editing, formatting): art, photography/photo-editing, sport, travel and geography, French culture, music/music industry, music scores, journalism, UK education system, school reports, National Curriculum, biography/autobiography, business/management, personal finance, popular science, school science, psychology, self-help, personal development, dogs (including dog training and dog behaviour), performing arts, cookery, crafts.

However, because I am part of an editorial collective, Editing Globally, I and my five colleagues can offer a huge range of editorial expertise across a particularly wide range of subjects. If you don't see what you need above, check out our Editing Globally website. 

I am an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.

I have over 30 years’ experience, including 10 years as an in-house translator at the Council of Europe.

I provide editorial and translation services for academic and trade publishers, business/corporate clients, medical consultants and doctors, expert witnesses, students and self-publishers. In addition to my work on full-length books, I have worked extensively on brand books, educational materials, travel guides, magazines, company literature, theses, dissertations and websites.

I also work closely with my husband, Martin, who is also a member of Editing Globally, and together we can offer a much wider range of subjects. Please see Martin's Clear Edit website for more details.

Etty Payne
Link to The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading

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"When it comes to attention to detail, a very thorough evaluation of each document presented to her, and indeed an excellent critical appraisal of the written work when required, I have no hesitation in stating that Etty is out there in a league of her own."
JV, medicolegal expert, Pain Expert Ltd.

"Thank you for an excellent job. The editing is great. Your comments on my thesis were very helpful and clear, offering good advice on how they might be altered. Also you picked up my inconsistencies across the document - something I struggled with. This was money well invested."
KC, PhD thesis on cardiac rehabilitation.