You’ve finished writing, you understand how to edit your work…
but just what do you need to check?
Now while it’s easy to think you can do a complete edit in one pass, believe me, concentrating on more than one element at a time is hard going.
Three elements for you to consider: content, writing mechanics, and visuals.
- Does it flow logically?
- Is all the information relevant to your message? … and your readers?
- Are there any trivial or tedious details?
- Have you included everything that needs to be there?
- Have you included anything that doesn’t need to be there?
- Do your pictures, graphs, tables, etc need captions?
- Are the table of contents, table of figures, referencing complete and updated?
- spelling, grammar, punctuation
- phrases or sentences that sound awkward
- repetition of words in close proximity – e.g. investigate, investigation; owns his own business
- cliches and stereotypes – best to avoid.
- saying the same thing twice – e.g. combine together, 5 pm in the afternoon, new innovations, free gift, added bonus
- waffle – unnecessary words that don’t contribute to the clarity of the writing or the argument
- How does the text sit on the page?
- Is the document broken up into reader-friendly chunks?
- Have you used techniques like bold or colour to highlight key words or concepts?
- Could any of the information be presented as a table, graphic, image, footnote?
- Are non-text elements appropriately placed within the text?
- Is there sufficient space between text and graphics?
- Is there enough white space? Does the page look crowded?
Yes, editing takes time… but it is definitely worth it.
Your final questions:
How easy will it be for my readers to understand what I’ve written?
How easy will it be for my readers to respond to my message?