After taking the time to carefully plan and craft your copy, the last thing you want to do is release it without checking and editing it, and risk the message being jumbled or unclear. Here are some essential editing tips to ensure your final version is as accurate and effective as possible.
When talking about a particular product, event or service, it is easy to repeat the same phrases, particularly at the beginning of sentences such as “X product does” or “X product is.” However, when a phrase is repeated, it causes our brains to switch off, meaning we are less receptive to any new information which is being provided. Try to vary the way you start your sentences by creating new phrases or, for example, rather than saying a particular product solves a problem, start the sentence with the problem and then say how the product solves it.
The repetition of ideas should also be avoided, as it creates a less powerful impact each time the idea is repeated. You can, however, build on an idea by adding new information which can be very effective as the audience then feels they have a better understanding of the concept you are discussing.
Repetition can also sneak through in our choice of adjectives (the words we use to describe something). It might be tempting to emphasise how good a product is by throwing in lots of words such as “brilliant”, “fantastic” and “amazing”; however, because these words are synonyms, the meaning is repeated, and their effectiveness is reduced. Using this type of language too often can also give the impression that you’re exaggerating, which can lead to mistrust. Instead, using fewer but carefully selected adjectives will have a more powerful effect and the information you are giving will be more believable.
Cut the waffle
Can you cut out any words in your copy? If the answer is yes, then do it. In short pieces of writing such as blog posts and press releases, it is vital that every word counts and contributes to your piece. If you don’t really need a particular word or sentence, cutting it out will improve your copy by making it clearer, more concise and therefore quicker to read.
Kill your darlings
It is unclear who first coined this phrase, but it is almost the first piece of advice any writer will hear and words they will live by. Writing can be challenging, so when we come up with a sentence or a phrase we think is genius, it can be easy to want to keep it in at all costs and try to shoehorn it into our work even if it doesn’t quite fit. However, your writing will improve from removing it, because it forces the rest of the work to be of a higher quality, rather than just relying on that one winning phrase.
Assess the structure
Is your message coming out as effectively as possible? If not, the overall structure of your piece might be the problem. Make sure the structure of your piece flows smoothly and continues to build on your key message. If when you read it back it feels clunky and unclear, then perhaps you have not structured it in the most logical way. Try simplifying and restructuring your work by changing the order of your paragraphs. Remember that each paragraph should be a new point. A simple example structure could be:
- Introduce a product.
- Explain what it is.
- Explain why you need it.
- Explain how to use it.
- Summarise your key points, link back to the introduction and offer a call to action.
Even in a rush to meet deadlines, proofreading is essential to avoid including any mistakes which could then undermine your professionalism and expertise. Reading your work out loud can help you spot mistakes while reading it too many times in your head could make it easy to miss errors. Microsoft Word has a helpful function that will read out the work exactly as you have typed it. Click “Review”, then select “Read Aloud.” You can pause it and skip sections, and it will help you work out where you have missed out or misspelled words you are sure you had written correctly.
Following these tips should help to improve the final version of your copy. However, if after practice and careful editing you still feel your copy is not as effective as it could be, try hiring a professional copywriter who will be utilising these tips and many more to create winning copy for you.