Three Editing Tips for Better Content

1.  Don’t Edit Yourself
Let me be clear:  the person who writes a piece cannot be the person who edits it.  This is a long standing rule in the literary world.  Try searching for “famous authors who edit themselves” in Google. (Hint:  you won’t find any.) No matter how objective you try to be, your brain knows what you meant and will skip over small mistakes such as writing the same word twice or accidentally using a homonym.  It is also more difficult to review your own sentence structure for grammatical accuracy - even if you’re great at doing that for others.  Likewise, you’ll need a third party to ensure that you’ve clearly expressed your point.

2.  Choose a Style
Do you remember high school and college where you needed to write a paper in MLA or AP style?  If you thought it was over, think again.  Choosing a writing style and sticking with it is one of the best ways to ensure consistent quality.  You don’t actually have to use a style manual; just decide on a set of rules and follow them.  For example:  email, e-mail, Email or E-mail?  Is it an Energy Efficient washer, an energy efficient washer, or an energy-efficient washer?  This kind of consistency is important for appearances, clarity, and SEO.

3.  Use Words, Not Punctuation.
A choreography teacher once explained to me that the thoughts and emotions of dancers needed to be in the shape of their bodies and the way they moved.  “If you put a bag on their heads, would you still know what they felt?” she asked.  That image is exactly how I want you to think of your communication and the punctuation you use.  Punctuation should be used to clarify meaning and organize the written word.  Any emotional content you intend to convey should come from words, not from punctuation. If you took out your punctuation, would your message show through in your words?