≡ Menu

Before you hit ‘publish’ … 10 editing tips for crafting better copy

Editing is a core skill for a writer. It isn’t hard to learn but it does require a little time and patience (qualities that are so frequently in short supply….)

Even when deadlines are pressing, you should get into the practice of giving your copy a good edit before releasing it into the wild. Here are some basic editing tips:

Does it read well?
Regardless of what it has to say, does it make a good read? Does it flow?

Step back
Try to read it as though someone else wrote it. Forget that it’s your copy. Try to be objective

Give it the overnight test
If at all possible, leave the copy to rest overnight and come back to it the next day. You’ll see it with fresh eyes.

Use a spellcheck
Obvious, but it needs to be on the list. Personally, I find grammar checkers annoying but your mileage may vary.

Check for typos
Your eyes will see what you meant to write, not necessarily what is there. This makes it very hard to spot typos and missing words (boy, I should know). Hunt them down.

Read it backwards
Scan the copy from right to left. This helps you spot typos and similar errors.

Slash and burn
Your copy will improve the more you edit. This doesn’t mean deleting whole sentences or paragraphs, but going Go through and meticulously takeing out all unnecessary words. Trim long sentences by turning commas into full stops (periods) where you can and adjusting sentence construction accordingly.

Read it out loud
It’ll help you spot awkward passages and phrases that just don’t seem to make sense.

Print it out
You’ll often spot mistakes on a printed page that you won’t see on screen. It also gives you chance to move to another room for a read through. This often helps you see the copy in a whole new light (literally, in my case, as I go into the garden whenever the weather permits).

Tighten it up
Once it’s perfect, go back and edit out another ten per cent of the word count. Kill a few adverbs. That always works.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brittney December 18, 2007, 4:47 pm

    “Adjusting” is correct. If you want to use “adjust,” you should put a comma before “and.”

    Otherwise, great article. I especially like your suggestion about proofreading backwards.

  • Chryselle December 24, 2007, 9:39 am

    Is that a typo in your headline? 🙁

    Just came across your blog. Am looking forward to reading more of it.

  • Simon December 24, 2007, 10:51 am

    Ah, Chryselle, well done. You noticed the ‘deliberate’ error introduced to show people the importance of proofreading….

  • Chryselle December 24, 2007, 8:01 pm

    🙂