7 tips to help you edit like a professional

Grammar Happy, How To Content, MediaHQ.com, Tips
May 7, 2019
by Laura McCormack

So, you’ve laboured over a piece of copy for hours, you’ve said everything you needed to say and all that is left is to ensure your writing is ready to be published.

Though the slog of producing the work is behind you, you now have to face the editing process. Regardless of your experience as a writer, editing a piece of work is always a challenging feat. But it is also the most important step on the road to publishing. It requires concentration, time and, most importantly, the capacity for self-critique.

If you have to edit your own writing, keep these effective editing techniques in mind.

Watch out for repetitive words or phrases

This is a pitfall all writers should look out for. When you are writing something in a hurry, you’re most at risk of falling into this bad habit. If you find that a particular word or phrase has been overused in your writing, or has been used twice in quick succession, dig out a thesaurus and see if you can find an appropriate replacement.

Watch out for ‘as’ and ‘-ing’

It’s perfectly fine to start sentences with ‘as’ and to use words that end with ‘-ing’. However, overuse of ‘as’ and ‘-ing’ can make your writing sound awkward or unsophisticated. To refine your work, ensure that you don’t use ‘-ing’ words too frequently.

Example: As he was walking to the gate

Correction: (As) he walked to the gate

Cut out filler phrases

Couching your sentences in filler phrases will make your writing ring with uncertainty. Phrases “It seems like” and “I think” will make your writing less impactful and distance readers from your intention. Instead, use authoritative phrasing for clarity in your sentences.

Example: We need to think about moving on to our next project, or we will potentially run out of time.

Correction: We need to move on to our next project, or we will run out of time.

Read aloud

Reading your writing aloud will allow you to spot any awkward phrasing or wordiness. Getting to grips with the rhythm of your writing will allow you to craft more impactful sentences.

Let it sit

If you want to edit a piece of writing that you’ve been labouring over for hours, the best piece of advice I can give you is to ignore it for hours, or even days. Coming back to your writing with a fresh pair of eyes will allow you to spot mistakes you otherwise may not have. If you have the luxury of a few days before a writing deadline, use them.

Watch out for passive voice

Read through your work and keep an eye out for sentences in the passive voice. Passive voice occurs when the subject of a sentence receives an action. Active voice, on the other hand, occurs when the subject of a sentence performs an action. Passive voice will make sentences seem unclear and overly wordy. Changing the construction of your sentences from passive to active is a valuable editing tip to remember.

Example: The chair was sat on by Larry

Correction: Larry sat on the chair

 Print it

Sometimes, the simplest solutions can be the most effective. To look at your writing with a fresh pair of eyes, print it and dig out the red pen.

Now that you’ve finished the editing process, it’s time to hit send. If you would like to access Ireland’s largest online contacts database contact Gaye on O1 254 1845 or click here.