Isn’t it annoying when you’ve written a blog post only to find it’s riddled with mistakes the day after publishing?
Where did that spelling error come from? I don’t remember writing that clumsy sentence!
We’re only human – it happens to the best of us.
We don’t all have a professional copy editor at our fingertips, so we usually rely on our own eyes to pick our posts apart.
We’re often blind to glaringly obvious errors while we skim edit, but they jump off the page at our hyper-sensitive readers.
With some clever self editing skills you can minimise errors and bump up your credibility and readership in the process.
Here are my top editing tips…
Plan before writing
Clever editing starts before any typing begins. This trick will save you hours of forehead slapping if you spend ten or twenty minutes planning ahead.
This is where your research happens. What’s the structure of your post? Consider what you’ll include in your introduction and the titles of your subheads.
Don’t over-complicate it; your finished plan is simply your main topics from start to finish.
Come back to it
You should never edit immediately after writing – or at least try not to. It’s fine occasionally if you’re in a hurry to publish, but try to sleep on it so you revisit your copy with fresh eyes.
We become so close to our copy we lose sight of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, areas to rearrange, points to take out or add in. The finer details are abandoned in our clouded minds.
If you can’t leave it overnight, come back in the afternoon or after your lunch break.
Hearing your words reveals far more than scanning them in your head. It’ll be easier to uncover clunky sentences and grammar mistakes, as well as punctuation misuse.
Reading aloud ensures you master the natural flow of your voice. Any mistakes will cause a hiccup while you read, making required corrections easier to spot.
Remove filler words
Comb through your sentences. Are you using unnecessary words? Would you still get your point across with less? Always use concise and clear sentences to give your copy punch.
I’m going to have to edit my copy – I need to edit my copy or I must edit my copy
I think that editing is difficult – I think editing is difficult
Filler words weaken your message. Your sentences will have greater impact if you trim the flab.
Listen to copy rhythm
This is easier to detect when you read aloud. The musicality of your copy is influenced by where you add punctuation and the length of your sentences.
If all your sentences are long, the rhythm becomes tedious. The perfect flow contains a mixture of long and short sentences.
You may need to break up longer sentences or join shorter ones together. This variation holds your reader’s interest.
Play with sentence length to find the right tempo.
Avoid weak verbs and adjectives
Fluffy verbs and adjectives can destroy a message. Just like filler words, it’s about cutting the fuzz to find the right action and describing word to give a more powerful alternative.
Let’s look at some examples…
He is writing – He writes
She is working all hours – She works all hours
They are aware of the noise – They hear the noise
Really small – Miniscule
Very high – Astronomical
Very clean – Immaculate
Pay attention to punctuation
The punctuation you use can transform the meaning of a sentence – particularly the understated comma. There’s a big difference between ‘Shall we eat Mum?’ compared to ‘Shall we eat, Mum?’
Comma placement is often debated, but there’s no finite rule. A lot depends on how you want to communicate flow and tone of voice. Just be sure not to stray too far off the mark and remember to always read aloud to discover where you want those natural pauses.
Tread carefully when overdoing exclamation marks to highlight severity. They lose impact when littered across the page. Instead, find a more powerful phrase to communicate its importance and your copy will sing to your audience.