Last month, we looked at 10 basic tips to proof content. I hope you have those down, as this blog will focus on 10 more advanced proofing and editing techniques.
For example, “It goes without saying that weekly department meetings have great potential to increase communication among staff members and managers” should be “Weekly department meetings increase communication between staff.”
2. Ban words.
The 212 Media Studios Content Team has a list of words to delete. Some have exceptions, but when possible, we delete: it, that, there, very, really, also, so, somewhat, like, since, because, just, then, and often. Try it, and see how removing these words give clarity to your writing.
3. Look for repeats.
These usually appear as words, sentences, and ideas. Avoid saying the same thing over and over. Give the readers credit that they’re following you. Though you can expand on the subject, don’t repeat words and phrases.
4. Omit needless words.
5. Resist writing exactly like you talk.
This can be difficult, as your personality should still come through. But spoken words or phrases tend to be awkward when written. Too causal a tone can imply that you aren’t the expert readers should take seriously. I tend to see a lot of “you know” or “like” or other personal favorite words in pieces written with too much author talk. Speaking of favorites…
6. Delete favorites.
This goes for words and punctuation marks. Some pieces can have a rash of commas and exclamation marks, others em dashes (—), semicolons (;), or ellipses (…). Other times, it’s your favorite sentence, one crafted with such wit and perfection. To paraphrase Stephen King and William Faulkner, kill your darlings as these can be jolting and awkward compared to the rest of your piece.
7. Use pronoun consistency.
This may seem nit-picky, but it will give an extra measure of professionalism. “An artist can display their work” should be revised to “An artist can display his work.” Because “artist” is singular, its possessive pronoun should be singular as well.
8. Be active instead of passive.
These are editing terms that are best explained through examples. This is passive: “Our company is going to be hiring new employees.” This is active: “Our company is hiring new employees.” Or, even better, remove the extra words: “Our company is hiring.”
9. Practice makes habit.
As you get into the groove of revising your writing using these techniques, look for one kind of error at a time. For example, look for typos and misspellings first, then look for repeated words and phrases, and so on.
10. Know that writing and revising are a process.
It takes more than one draft. In fact, it takes more than three drafts! (Note: This article went through five drafts/revisions.) It takes time and effort. We on the Content Team spend the majority of our time revising content. For each project, we write, rewrite, rewrite, edit, debate, critique, revise, proof, and repeat as necessary. It’s a good thing that we love it!
What technique are you going to try first? Comment below.
Director of Content
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