5 Easy Editing Tips to Instantly Improve Your Writing

spell check

Before I go any further into this post, let me give you one caveat. You shouldn’t edit your own work. (This goes for professional editors, too!)

Why? Because you’re simply too close to the writing to be effective.

Your eyes glaze over when you read your web copy or e-book for the gazillionth time. You skim and miss typos. You read words that aren’t there because you know what the sentence is supposed to say.

I guarantee it happens to the best of us.

But if you absolutely must play editor to your own writing, do yourself a favor by following these five easy tips. They won’t replace professional editing (if they could, I’d be out of a job!) but they’ll make your task more efficient and effective.

Let’s dive in.

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Are You Forgetting Your Audience in Your Marketing Communications?

confused by jargonI worked with a client recently whose business targets a few different audiences. For example, he collaborates with similar businesses, but he also works with clients directly. I was editing some copy he’d written to appeal to that second group. What I found, though, were words targeted at the first group.

My client is an insider, so he didn’t think twice about using the industry lingo. What he meant was clear to him, and it would have made perfect sense to his collaborators. But the marketing piece wasn’t meant for that audience, and they wouldn’t be the ones reading it.

It’s tempting to use the lingo because so much meaning can be wrapped up in one word. That one word can save a lot of space and shorten your copy. But it also can shorten the attention span of readers who don’t get it. They’ll tune out and move on – to someone who understands them.

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Eliminate Buzzwords to Clarify Your Message

JUST SAY NO
I was working with a client recently on some of his marketing copy. The piece was already written; I was providing an editorial eye and suggestions for improvement.

The piece sounded good, but one problem popped up several times throughout the copy, a problem that I’ve encountered frequently when editing pre-written copy.

Buzzwords.

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Friday Fun: The Worst Cover Letter Ever Written

Very wrong
DISCLAIMER: What I am about to present to you will be unpleasant. Side effects may include migraine, shortness of breath, and suicidal thoughts… if you’re an editor, that is. Continue at your own risk.

What you are about to read is an actual cover letter submitted for a full-time job – a job in the company’s communications department. It’s not just bad; it could be mistaken for spam if it hadn’t arrived with a completed application and a résumé. Check it out:

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Did You Know This Surprising Statistic about Proofreading?

proofreading
Besides the fact that your friends will make fun of you mercilessly on Facebook, did you realize that 54% of employers would think twice about hiring you if you make spelling and grammar mistakes in your tweets and posts?

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