Good editing is not limited to having a quick read through and running spell check.
Here’s what I look for when editing any piece of content.
What’s it about?
Sit on your hands and read through the content once without making any changes.
Yes, you might look (and feel) silly but this first read through will give you an understanding of what the text is about and where it can be improved.
What’s the purpose?
Why has the content been produced? Does the does the text address these aims?
- Is anything missing?
- Is there anything that can be cut?
- Is it ordered in the most logical way?
You might need to re-write, add or remove content to make sure it is fit for purpose.
Check the facts
You want to make sure the text is factually accurate.
- dates, deadlines
- job titles
- phone numbers, email addresses and other contact details
If the text references source material (such as government figures or a press release) compare your text to the original material. This is to make sure that your content isn’t missing a vital point and doesn’t misinterpret the source material.
Focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar
A spell checker will highlight the big mistakes but they are not perfect.
Read through slowly looking for:
- missing words
- words that are easily typed incorrectly but won’t be picked up by a spell checker. For example, writing ‘on’ instead of ‘in’
- British vs American spelling
- consistent use of abbreviations
- check tense consistency
The aim is to make the text as easy to read as possible so best practice principles for writing apply.
- Will it make sense to your readers?
- Are there any unnecessary words or jargon?
- Does the language fit your firm?
How it looks
Your content needs to look great. The formatting needs to be consistent throughout and with other content you produce.
Pay attention to:
By now you should have picked up most (if not all) of the errors.
Your final checks should focus on making sure everything is perfect:
- Does the title reflect the post?
- Is there a call to action?
- Do any links go where they should?
- Have you included any keywords to help with SEO?
And there you have it: perfectly polished text that’s ready to be published.