What I mean is to change mistakes/typos other than the proposed changes your reviewers pointed out to you.

As this article is based on a previous thesis (which had a very similar focus, only it was oriented towards a different cultural context) I've noticed a few paragraphs that could use a clean up (for example it would help to clarify that I use a certain term because it is related to the administrative divisions in my country,etc.).

I also noticed a typo on one of the results on the table that got carried over to the abstract. It doesn't change the results or findings or anything, basically it's just a decimal that should be lower.

My question is, would it be OK to change them now? And in case it was should I let the reviewers know I cleaned it up or go through each change, besides the ones they asked me to do, obviously.


2 Answers 2


Yes, this is completely OK. You are not bound to perpetuate typos from earlier versions just because reviewers did not find them.

It's always good to indicate that typos were cleaned up and similar, though you shouldn't note every single typo. I'd write something like "we corrected typos, especially in section X, and tightened up the prose in paragraph Y" in the answer letter - just to make sure that nobody thinks you are trying to smuggle in larger changes.

Of course, there is a bit of a gray area between small and not-so-small changes. If you want to change something that goes beyond simple spelling errors or awkward prose and starts to change your argument, you should draw the editor's and reviewers' attention to this more explicitly, since they should really sign off on any not completely minor changes at this stage.

  • 1
    Thank you very much! No, I'm not changing my argument at all. It's more of cleaning up the prose in certain parts and then a numerical result was slightly lower, but not significantly changint the point I was making. Ie. I was explaining that the duration of a condition had increased for males and reduced for females. It is still reducing for females, only a bit less than I thought. Again, many thanks for your help, much appreciated!
    – Pointed
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 0:07
  • stephen is spot on, using MS review will track the typos you change automatically. If you change numbers then you are misreading the answer and in a danger zone. @Pointed in no way does Stephen's answer give you the ok to do what you are suggesting in this comment. "and then a numerical result was slightly lower, but not significantly","ad increased for males and reduced for females. It is still reducing for females, only a bit less than I though" This quotes part are a big no no, this is not typos Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 19:09
  • Thanks, will make it sure I point out any changes except for the typos!
    – Pointed
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 19:52

Yes, correcting typos while making revisions (major or minor) is not only completely okay, it is strongly encouraged. In general you should feel free to make such changes, without explicit comment, as long as:

(i) A neutral, well-qualified reader (not necessarily a leading expert; just a generic member of your target audience) would regard your changes as having no nontrivial intellectual / academic content,


(ii) These changes do not significantly alter the length of the paper.

If you run afoul of condition (i) or (ii), you should think one more time as to whether you want to make these changes. You can still make them, but you should alert the editor to them -- and in case (i), enumerate them explicitly. You should understand and be prepared to have your work refereed again. If the changes are so significant that a neutral, well-qualified reader would be concerned that an article submitted in the revised form would not have been accepted (or made it to whatever stage of the process you have attained), then you should think one more time about making the changes, and if so you should probably suggest to the editor that the paper may need to be re-refereed. In other words, you can yourself make a major revision in place of a minor revision...but be prepared to accept the consequences of that.

  • Thanks a lot for the advice. No, none of the edits change the article's argument. In one case it is cleaning up prose. In the other it's just correcting a decimal that ended up higher than it actually was in the results. The change is not substantial in the sense that the argument I'm making is the same: that episodes in men for a certain condition have increased in duration whereas in women their duration has decreased. It's only that in the first version the decrease I got was higher than it actually is (by a decimal). The article's findings are the same.
    – Pointed
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 0:23
  • 1
    If the typo was in a reported quantitative outcome of the paper, you should definitely correct it - publishing wrong data would be abominable - but just as definitely note it to the editor. You should not allow any possible misunderstanding that the change from version to version was a mistake, or an attempt at something sneaky. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 4:04
  • Yes of course, I assumed those results were not going to be published, my dilemma was more along the lines of "can I just correct it and point out I corrected the mistake to the reviewers, or should I completely withdraw the article and res-submit it?". Thanks for the help!
    – Pointed
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 11:50

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