Editing your own copy simply means recognizing weaknesses and fixing them. Easy peasy, right? Yet, it’s an often overlooked part of the writing process.
Quite frankly, even the best writers rarely spit out their best copy in the first draft (contrary to popular opinion). So, for the sake of making your writing shine (and stand out from the pack), you have to be your own editor. Every time you write something, tighten up your own content with these 14 editing tips that’ll make your copy more addictive, engaging, and compelling.
- Cut long sentences in two
Many long sentences are grammatically correct, but often contain several ideas and can easily lose the reader’s focus. If you spot a comma-heavy sentence, try to give each idea its own sentence.
- Double tap the “Enter” (or “Return”) button every 2 or 3 sentences
This leaves a space between paragraphs. This negative space creates emphasis, draws attention to something that’s important, and makes copy seem less intimidating and more readable.
- Ax the adverbs (the -ly words)
Find a more powerful verb to replace the weak verb + weak -ly adverb combo. (Rather than saying the cat walks slowly, say she creeps or tiptoes. The screen door didn’t shut noisily, it banged shut.)
- Replace negative with positive
Say what something is, instead of what it isn’t. It’s more straightforward and action oriented with a powerful verb.
- Remove redundancies
Cut it out! You don’t need to say the “exact same” thing with two words. Here’s a better version: you don’t need to say the “same” thing with two words. Check out com’s 200 Common Redundancies and then start snipping!
- Reduce prepositions
Though prepositions (of, in, to, for, etc.) are helpful little words, they make sentences longer because they cannot stand alone. By cutting the preposition and the words that follow, you can cut three, four or even five words. Sometimes a prepositional phrase can be replaced with just one more direct word, or cut completely. (Hint: An easy way to cut prepositions is to look for opportunities to make something possessive. The house of your neighbor is really just your neighbor’s house.)
- Keep your key benefits in bold
Bolding the benefits will quickly point readers to the information you absolutely need them to know. In fact, in-text formatting of any kind—italicizing, underlining, capitalizing, text links—will help you capture and maintain a reader’s attention.
- Use bullets (or numbered lists) to isolate important information
Help your readers get through your content by making your content easy follow with bullets and numbered lists that will:
- Organize your text, making it more scannable and digestible.
- Highlight your key points and other important bits of information.
- Draw the most attention after your headline and subheads, making them an ideal vessel for benefits.
- Keep everything in active voice
Active voice means the subject of each sentence is doing the action rather than receiving it passive voice, which is kinda’ meh. Say, “Mary drove the car,” instead of “The car was driven by Mary.” Active voice is stronger and more confident. (Hint: Use “editing” or Control-F to find the word “by.”)
- Make call-to-actions calls-to-value
Make sure they are clear and concise, bold and visible, urgent and compelling. Most importantly, make sure they communicate benefits (i.e., the value that awaits those who do what you’re asking).
- Edit out “that”
In about 95 percent of your sentences, you can get rid of the word “that.”
- People should always be referred to as “who” not “that” It’s easy to make this mistake because that has become acceptable in everyday conversations. But it’s more noticeable when it’s written down.
- Use contractions
They sound more familiar, friendlier and personable.
- Steer clear of the ‘ing” trap
Pruning excessive “ings” makes your writing clearer and easier to read. (Instead of “He was writing a thesis: you can say “He wrote a thesis.”)
The easiest way of all to have the clearest content every time is to turn to Solamar. We have the expert wordsmiths that know exactly how to clearly and succinctly deliver your message with all the right edits every time. Give us a shout!