Editing: The Final Step to Excellent Content
To attract existing and potential clients to your site, you strive to insure that your content is exciting and relevant to your visitors. A quick turnoff to readers is a content piece with poor grammar and spelling errors. Readers flee from sites that disrespect them with poor spelling and grammar or poor flow of ideas.
The editing process is not difficult or time-consuming. Some writers like to have another set of eyes edit their work while others feel that if they wrote it, they edit it to keep the tone and intent of the content. Nearly all content provider platforms provide editorial services and the service is often worthwhile when a client is trying a new writer. Another reason editing services are useful is if a less experienced writer is creating your content. An experienced editor can turn a fair piece into an outstanding one.
Four Steps to Editing
1. Let It Rest before Editing
Writers who edit their own work know it is best to print the work out, and let it sit a while before bringing their red pencil to the paper. Since writers put a lot of themselves into their writing, editing immediately after completing an assignment can cause the author to fail to recognize subtle mistakes in spelling, grammar, and organization. Even writers who use tools for spelling and grammar know that they are the final decision maker as these tools make errors.
When making the first pass at a paper, make decisions about what stays and what goes. Correct obvious spelling and grammar errors, but do not hunt for them at this stage. Concentrate on content. When reading a document, look for parts that could be more concise – writing fluff to a word count is a hazard all writers face. Cut as much as possible without changing the meaning of the work. If a sentence or paragraph is hard to understand, distill and clarify it. Both the writer and the editor have the same goal, which is to keep the reader on the page.
Once the content passes muster, you are ready to tackle less obvious spelling and grammar errors. As a freelance writer, I often edit my own work. Two tools I use for checking grammar and spelling are Ginger, which is a free download and a site called GrammerCheck that also is free – just paste your article into its workbox and it checks for grammar and spelling errors. There are loads of free and subscription tools that are similar. I have learned the hard way that these tools make mistakes – editors have called me on grammar and spelling errors as well as “fluff,” and their changes improved the work. That is why my browser is always open to a dictionary and a stylebook. More often than not, editors improve what I have written.
4. Do It Again
Whether you are an editor or a writer who is self-editing, once you are happy with the work, check it again. Not only is it possible that you missed something, it is probable that there is a missing letter in a word, a preposition that disappeared or something equally silly.
Well-edited content lets your site visitors know that you value their readership and patronage as well as their time.