As marketers we are constantly writing copy—long-form, short-form, print, digital—it’s a battle to fit it all in each day, right? And we’ve all had our share of mistakes. Whether you’re a novice writer or an experienced wordsmith, here are my ideas for editing content.
1. Set your style
Decide what parameters you will use when editing. Consider both print and digital and how your style guide may change depending on the medium. Regardless, having a set style guide is a must. Things to consider:
- How will you write headlines (Sentence case? All caps? Other?)
- Will you use the Oxford comma?
- What voice will you use? (I? Us? The company?)
2. Develop your editing process
Think about what your editing process looks like—what gets routed to others? What stays within your department? How many people need to review before it gets the green light?
Something that has helped me is to have a minimum of two sets of eyes read the piece before it’s published. We’ve all been there before—staring too long at something that we’re unable to see the mistakes. Even if it’s someone who doesn’t work directly with you, ask someone to read your piece before hitting publish.
Whatever your process, communicate it to everyone on your team to ensure that each piece written follows the same editing route.
3. Know what to look for
Outside of grammar and spelling (which are still very important aspects of the editing process) think about how your readers will digest your content. Use short copy, bullet points, numbered lists and headings to make content easy to follow.
We all can get a little wordy so don’t be afraid to trim the fat. Use simple words and avoid acronyms (or if you need to use them, identify what they mean). I love this advice from Forbes: “Take a laser, not a shot gun approach.” Basically, stay on topic. If you want to have multiple approaches to a topic, put it in an eBook or a larger publication, not a blog post or article.
Need more ideas on cutting down? These 25 editing tips provide a great place to start.
Editing for digital and print
While general editing parameters can be applied to all types of content, there are a few aspects of editing for digital copy versus printed copy to consider. When editing digital content, think about:
- Link checks: Do outbound and inbound links work properly?
- Author boxes: If they are included, has the correct author been cited and is her/his bio accurate and up-to-date?
- Images: Do your articles or blog posts have featured images set? Do they auto-pull when your article’s link appears on a third-party channel?
- Keywords: Have you written with search engine optimization in mind?
And when editing for print, check the following:
- Color matches: Do the colors match your brand as needed?
- Logo variations: Is the correct use of your logo displayed?
- Images: Are images high-resolution, easy-to-view and laid out correctly?
- Content blocks: Is all content accounted for? Are the margins correct? Is any text coming off the page?
Additional content editing tools
Need more? There are some great tools out there to help with editing outside of the lists above (more than I can list here) but to get you started, here are three of my favorites:
- AP-Stylebook: Provides you with the ins and outs of capitalization, the Oxford comma and more. While the book and website is great, their Facebook page and Twitter handle are equally helpful (and entertaining!)
- Grammarly: Detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and style mistakes in your writing by copy/pasting text into its editor OR by adding on a browser extension
- Hemingway editor: Grades your content and provides you with insight about what is hard to read, what could be reworded, etc.
What are your favorite editing tools or must-do editing tasks? Share your tips for editing in our comments area, below.