How to Edit Your Own Writing Like a Pro

One of the biggest issues all small business owners run into is editing their own writing, so if you struggle with this, too, believe me when I say you are in very good company.

Editing your own writing is tough for non-editors for two reasons: 1) If you had aced grammar and composition in school, you would be writing this blog post, and 2) You are so close your business that you can’t always settle on what to say, so you just keep going to make sure you capture everything.

To provide you with some guidance, here’s what I look for when I’m editing content, aka, how to edit your own writing like a pro:

The point

In your first paragraph, I want to know what your point is – and then I want to see that focus carried through the rest of your content. When you re-read your work, cut out any extraneous topics, distractions, or tangents that don’t contribute to the overarching point you are trying to make.

Context

When you are really knowledgeable about a subject, it is super easy to accidentally gloss over important information that adds context and meaning for your reader. Ask someone who is not an expert on your topic to read through it; they’ll let you know if you are missing information.

Tone of voice

No matter who my clients’ audience is, I will edit their writing to read as if they are explaining the concept at a cocktail party. You don’t need to dumb down language or concepts, but you do need to write in plain English and keep it friendly, approachable, interesting and engaging.

Formatting

I’m about to get a little school-teacher on you, so forgive me. I look for the following formatting standards:

  • One space between sentences (two is the old standard)
  • Paragraphs of 2-3 sentences
  • Shorter sentences
  • Sub headers to break up content
  • Periods inside quote marks, outside of parentheses.

Punctuation

I look for commas, semi-colons, dashes, and parentheses that are used correctly (and I add them where they are missing). Since I don’t want to bore you with grammar details, here’s a very high level view of what they’re for:

  • Commas separate fully formed sentences and qualifiers (though, of course). Example: I am a writer, but I am also a mom.
  • Semi-colons separates a follow-on thought from a fully formed sentence (often found before a however).  Example: I am a writer; however, I also love to edit and almost went into publishing.
  • Dashes separate brief thoughts from your main thought. Example: I am a copywriter, not a book author – but wouldn’t that be an interesting career!
  • Parentheses separate a new thought from your main thought. Example: I am a copywriter, and I love it (I used to be a personal chef, and that was WAY harder).

I hope that helps you write a little better and more clearly! If you have any questions, shoot me a note.

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