Effective Editing Makes Writing Easier to Digest
Editing isn’t a magic wand; it’s a process that involves insight, intelligence and hard work. But before getting to the seven secrets of effective editing, it’s helpful to define the term, so you understand exactly what this article refers to as editing.
The Difference Between Revising and Editing
Effective editing can streamline and refine any piece of writing. Editing takes the author’s intent and sharpens it to better relate to its targeted audience. Revising, on the other hand, requires rewriting the article — which in this case includes blog posts and website content — to better reach its goal. Revising is usually, but not always, done by the author, and it can be an extensive process.
When an article is 90 percent there, editing tightens up the writing and smooths out the wrinkles. When an article is only 50 percent there, it may need more research, more content or even a different approach. In this instance, editing can’t help. It needs to be revised.
The Secrets of Effective Editing
Here are the seven secrets of great editing, as promised. When you work with editors, professional or otherwise, look to see if they deliver results in line with these practices:
- Create concise language. In general, writers hate to cut any words for fear they’ll lose the magic of their prose. Writers love the sound of their own words. Editors don’t suffer from that delusion. Readers’ feelings matter more than writers’ feelings. So — cut to fine-tune the message.
- Choose better words. The right word makes all the difference. Very often, one strong word works much better than a wordy phrase or group of less powerful words. The right word connects better with readers, delivers more of an emotional impact and creates a sense of action. Editing word choices also contributes to Secret #1. So — spend the time to find the right word.
- Develop strong openings. The introduction to any piece of writing should be the last section edited. It needs to feature strong writing that draws in its intended audience, and that can only be done when the editor knows what the article is about. As they say in the newspaper business, “Don’t bury the lede.” So — refine the opening until it sings.
- Let it flow. Every article needs to lead readers from point to point. The writing must flow effortlessly and logically. Sometimes, whole sections need to move up or down to facilitate that flow. Sometimes, sentences fit better elsewhere. So — make sure nothing gets in the way of a good read.
- Break it up. Make sure that the blog post or website page has sufficient subheadings. Almost everyone scans content online. Make it easy for readers with descriptive, short but clever headings that let readers know what’s coming. So — keep every section short, adding headings as needed.
- Double-check the heading text. The title and the headings in any article can spell success or failure. There are whole books written about creating effective titles. Just make sure it’s not clickbait. Instead, create titles and headings that add personality to the piece. And deliver on your promises. So — revise the title and headings as needed to engage readers.
- Read it through a second time. Most editors realize they are the last stop on the road to online publication. The edited article needs to be clear and concise. Effective editing requires a second read-through to catch any typos, omissions or other errors. So — read through the entire article once more before letting it go.
Nothing written is ready for publication until it’s been edited. Effective editing can make the difference between viral and valueless. If you follow all these editing tips in your writing process, you’ll deliver outstanding and effective content to your — or your client’s — website.
The team at Ray Access believes in editing as part of the writing process. Every blog post, website page, press release and newsletter we deliver to a client has been professionally edited. Now you can hire the pros on the Ray Access team to edit your business writing.