I love to write. I love the entire writing process - from start to finish. I still find a blank writing canvass just so exciting and publishing a piece of writing so satisfying.
In this article, I am going to start at the end so to speak. I am going to analyse the editing process and give you some tips for when you come to edit your own blog posts, articles or reports.
Our businesses are increasingly expected to create a consistent flow of high quality and useful content. That content can take the form of social media posts, blogs, newsletters, surveys, reports and Ebooks. It can feel pretty overwhelming.
Oh, and you are still expected to hold down your day job.
As you race to meet your deadlines, it is easy to just write and publish without attention to the final stage of the content creation process – editing. However, by doing so you may render your hard work worthless and you may end up damaging your brand as a result.
Have you ever sent content out into the big, wide world and then noticed (to your horror) a glaringly obvious spelling mistake? You are not alone. At that moment, you would give anything to have those precious pre-publish minutes back to make the necessary corrections. You regret your haste and the fact that you are now left to repent at leisure.
To avoid this unpleasant situation, you should allocate a set amount of editing time each time you create content for your business. In addition, to help maintain a high editing standard, you should create a checklist that will soon become your content safety net.
Your checklist could include these ten editing tips:
Unless you have a team of editors at hand, I always advise writers to allow some time to pass after they have finished writing before they commence editing. Otherwise it is all too easy to see what you meant to produce and not what is actually there. Your eyes can play cruel tricks on you in that way!
Once you have had a break from your content, go back and edit. Then take another short break before you begin your final proof-reading and editing stage.
Sentences & Paragraphs
Look carefully at your sentences and paragraphs. Sentences should be short and to the point. If a sentence is long consider breaking it in two.
Paragraphs should also be relatively short. The trouble with long sentences and paragraphs is that they can feel overwhelming to your reader and you run the risk of losing your audience.
Check your content for ramble. Never use two words when one will do. Edit your content and show no mercy. Each anecdote, each paragraph and even each word needs to perform a job and have a purpose. You want to ensure that your key message is clear and not buried under a mountain of text.
The first time a name is mentioned, just double check that the spelling is correct. Then check the rest of the article to make sure that you have used the correct spelling throughout.
If you are using dates in your content, use the editing process to double check that they are accurate.
Always check the links that you include in your content. Make sure you are taking your reader where they want to go.
Your editing process should also include any images or visuals that you intend to publish alongside your text. Check that your images are of the correct quality and are in the right position. Check your captions and links and make sure that your reader understands their relevance.
Spelling & Grammar
Once you have reread your content for sense and flow, you can read it again to guard against spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Try to see the words for what they are rather than in the context of what you are writing about.
Always keep your tenses consistent. It can be a good idea to create an editorial guide so that you know whether to write that Mr X reported or Mr X reports. A lack of consistency here can really damage your entire article.
Think carefully about your use of time. You should always provide the ‘when’ of any story. However, you should also be wary of being too time specific in other areas of your content.
Today, yesterday and tomorrow, next week, last month and next month are all time descriptions that depend on when your reader happens upon your content. It is far better to be ever so slightly vague when it comes to time unless the context of your article needs for you to be time specific.
Thank you so much for reading.
If you have any other editing tips please do share them in the comments section below.
Take care, Jane x