7 steps to better editing

Fluff, repetition and poor usage will turn readers off and send them elsewhere for information.

Whether you are a writer or editor, you want to create the best content possible.

Note these seven best practices when editing your articles:

1. Listen to your written word.

There is software that can speak your writing. You could also read it aloud or get a friend to read it to you.

I would recommend ReaderPal Lite if you dislike reading out loud or prefer a voice other than your own. This software can help you detect errors and can be used with headphones for greater privacy.

2. Check for repetitive words.

Use a thesaurus to avoid repetition.

When using synonyms, think about your target audience’s reading level to avoid distracting words. Hopefully the message they receive is in the whole of your writing, not just individual words.

Download this free white paper to discover 10 ways you can improve your writing today.

3. Use a dictionary.

Make sure you understand the meaning of the words you use. Look them up to make sure the usage is appropriate.

4. Use active voice instead of passive voice.

Passive voice is weak writing. Change passive voice to active voice.

Here is an example:

At dinner, six sausages were eaten by Martin. (passive)

Martin ate six sausages at dinner. (active)

5. Avoid gender-specific language.

Avoid gender-specific language. Using he or she is not inclusive; gender-neutral language is.

For example, policeman becomes police officer, and actress becomes actor.

6. Watch your word count.

Condensing sentences—taking out “fluffy” words—can improve readability and keep readers’ attention.

Example: I actually agree he was right that time.

Shorter and better: I agree he was right that time.

7. Try online tools.

Run your article through grammar and spell-checking software such as AtomicWriter, a tool we use to proofread every article and improve content performance.

Remember this quote, attributed to several writers: “There’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.”

A version of this article first appeared on Business2Community.


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