Five techniques for more effective self-editing

Posted by ext - March 8, 2017 - Categories: Marketing

You’ve finished your first draft of that challenging article, blog post or brochure you’ve been working on for days, maybe even weeks. You’re excited to get it off your plate, whether that means publishing it or submitting it for review.

Not so fast! You may not enjoy editing your own work, but it’s an essential part of the writing process. These five simple, yet effective, self-editing techniques will make your writing cleaner, more concise and easier to read. Plus, they’ll save your editor some work.

1. Break up long sentences

Try to keep your sentences under 30 words, especially when you’re writing for the web. Scan your work for long sentences and, if you find any, try splitting them into two.

Before: It is really difficult to come up with an example of an overly long sentence when you are not used to writing that way, but put your mind to it and we are sure you will come up with something.

After: It is really difficult to come up with an example of an overly long sentence when you are not used to writing that way. But put your mind to it, and we are sure you will come up with something.

2. Delete unnecessary words

Some good examples of this are “in order to,” “really,” “very” and other filler words that don’t add to your sentence. Get into the habit of automatically searching for these words and deleting them. Then, take another look at your document to make sure you haven’t used two or more words when one would do.

Before: It is really difficult to come up with an example of an overly long sentence when you are not used to writing that way. But put your mind to it, and we are sure you will come up with something.

After: It is difficult to come up with an example of a long sentence when you are not used to writing that way. But put your mind to it, and you will come up with something.

3. Use contractions

You want your writing to sound natural and mirror the way you talk. That means occasionally using contractions.

Before: It is difficult to come up with an example of a long sentence when you are not used to writing that way. But put your mind to it, and you will come up with something.

After: It’s difficult to come up with an example of a long sentence when you’re not used to writing that way. But put your mind to it, and you’ll come up with something.

4. Stick with an active voice… most of the time

There are times when you’ll want to use passive voice, but most of the time, active voice is more engaging and easier to read. We published a separate blog post on why active voice rules, how to identify passive voice and when to – occasionally – use it. Go check it out.

5. Keep a dictionary close by

Here’s a not-so-secret secret most professional editors will admit to: they don’t know how to spell every word in the dictionary. What they do know is when to look things up. They also know that spellcheck isn’t always reliable. Keep a dictionary on your desk as you’re editing your own work, and look up anything you’re not sure of.

There’s much more a professional editor can do to make your work more polished and professional. Consider working with one before you publish your next piece.

To find the right editor for you, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.


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