Editing is an important part of the writing process. Often, we think of editing as dealing with punctuation, grammar, and spelling issues. And certainly, you can hire editors that only deal with those things. However, when it comes to editing your writing editing is much more than spelling and grammar.
The things you may want to look for when you are editing your work are:
Confirm Your Copy Makes Sense – Read it out loud. Can you understand it and follow it? Does it make sense? If you’re not sure, ask someone who knows nothing about the topic to read it to find out if they understand it and that it makes sense.
Ensure the Syntax is Understandable – The order of words that you use to explain a concept or move through the scene is very important. If they don’t make sense to the reader, it will not help them. Whether you want to say “Merrily, he ran through the field of flowers.” Or is it “He ran through the field of flowers merrily.” Or perhaps “He merrily ran through the field of flowers.” All of them say the same thing, but which one really represents the right meaning to most people without confusion?
Eliminate Unneeded Words – As you write, you don’t want to worry about unneeded words. Just write. When you are editing, it’s time to remove the words that are not needed to explain the concept. For example, “Eliminate unneeded words in order to expand understanding.” You can eliminate the words “in order” and it will make sense and be easier to read. “Eliminate unneeded words to expand understanding.”
Does the Copy Keep the Audience’s Attention? – If you write something wordy or long-winded is it really needed? Will your audience pay attention at all? Does it flow well enough to keep their attention while also enhancing understanding?
Get Rid of Confusing Phrases and Clichés – This tip really depends on the type of writing you’re doing but for the most part, using clichés will not advance your meaning at all. Also, avoid phrases that cause someone to think of another meaning of the word that is not in line with your meaning.
Improve Your Language – Check your word usage. If you are using a certain word often maybe you need to learn new words that describe the same idea. You can use a thesaurus to help. A word of caution with the thesaurus is ensuring that you really understand what a word means before using it.
Ensure the Voice is Consistent – One way to ensure that you choose the right voice is to ask the client and then just make sure you keep it consistent. Also, you can add some personality to the content at this point.
Check the Facts – If you have mentioned any facts in the piece always check them. You want to be able to prove the facts with sources. This is going to help you ensure that your writing is accurate.
Grammar & Spelling – Of course, you will also want to check your grammar and spelling. Keep in mind that whether grammar should be totally “correct” or not depends on your client and the audience. For some people, reading writing with perfect grammar is boring. This is especially true if you are writing persuasively.
Editing is much more important than spelling and grammar. It’s all about ensuring that the entire piece accomplishes what you want it to accomplish and can be read and understood by the target audience. When you follow the writing process each time, you write you won’t be sorry. Your writing will look great and accomplish its task easier when you know what to do when editing.
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