Editing an informational, commercial text, an article for a website, or an academic paper before submitting is a complex but exciting process, no less important than actually writing the text. It is based on three pillars:
- alteration of the erroneous one (checking for compliance with the theme or requirements, correcting the composition, stylistic editing)
- getting rid of excess (reduction, elimination of unnecessary information)
- editing details (correcting speech, grammar, spelling, punctuation errors, editing typos).
This article presents a simple editing algorithm that will help editors work with any kind of text. It is built in the “from general to specific” format and allows you to eliminate the shortcomings yourself at each stage. But if you see that the amount of corrections is large enough, it is better to hire professional writing services. They will find and correct mistakes much faster because they possess the necessary editing skills.
Make sure the text is relevant
If you have requirements from the teacher or a customer, it is great: read them carefully and take a quick look at the text, its title, section, and subsection titles to determine whether it is written on the required topic. If there are no specific requirements, on the first reading, pay attention to maintaining the unity of the topic.
The ideal formula is one text = one question.
For example, if the task of a copywriter is to describe the types of washing machines, you should not include the rules for caring for appliances in the same article. Or, in the text about products made of genuine leather, you should not write about artificial ones.
The task of the editor is to make sure that the text fulfills the assigned tasks, is written on the right topic, and immerses a reader deeply enough into the question so that after reading it, they don’t want to look for information somewhere else.
Another related task is to make sure that the title matches the content of the text. The title is the first thing a person sees when they click on a link on the Internet or open a material. It should be logical, reflect the main idea of the text, and ideally encourage the person to read the text in its entirety.
Check the facts
The first thing you should pay attention to is names, titles, and contact details. For commercial texts, it is especially important to check that the range and characteristics of the products mentioned match the real ones. If we are talking about complex technical devices and there are a lot of terms in the text, if possible, it should be given to a specialist for additional editing. But you can do it on your own – the basic information can be easily checked against specialized resources on the Web.
Check for uniqueness — but don’t make it an end in itself
Strictly speaking, if the uniqueness of the text is equal to zero, its usefulness and efficiency will tend to the same value, and there is nothing to do with such material. But outright plagiarism does not come across so often, so checking the text with the help of special services will help determine which parts are better to rewrite and which can be left unchanged. Sometimes it is enough to change just a few sentences so that the percentage of uniqueness increases to optimal values.
Key phrases help the text to rise in the search results for user requests. Typically, copywriters receive a list of keys that need to be included in the text. There are several options for their entry:
- exact match (the query is the same as your keyword);
- phrase match (the query includes your keyword)
- broad match (the query relates to your keyword);
When working with an exact match, the main principle is to preserve the naturalness of the text. Modern search engines do an excellent job with word forms, so you can safely get rid of constructions like “purebred dog buy Chicago,” diluting them with punctuation and additional words:
“If you need a purebred dog, you can buy it in Chicago …”
Monitor the quality of the visual design of the text
Even if you don’t know how the text will end up in print or on the website, your task is to make it as pleasant and easy to read as possible.
For this, it is recommended to:
- divide the text into paragraphs with intervals between them
- align text blocks and illustrations
- follow the design of subheadings, lists, and other elements.
Pay special attention to images: all drawings, photos, infographics, diagrams, and other elements should be of good quality and be as close as possible to the block of information they illustrate. For example, in a beauty article, you should not post a photo of a manicure next to a section on facial spa treatments, even if all these services are provided by one salon. Also, avoid images of products that cannot be bought from this manufacturer/seller in commercial texts.
Get rid of unnecessary information
Even 100% unique informational text can go unnoticed or make a negative impression if it has a lot of superfluous content. Words-parasites, repetitive constructions without semantic meaning, an abundance of pronouns and particles – all this spoils the content of the text. Especially a lot of it happens in the first paragraphs when an inexperienced author does not know how to start correctly. Examples of unsuccessful first sentences:
- Currently, there are many options for finishing materials for walls.
- Human life is unthinkable without friendly and business communication. Cell phones help with this.
- Every woman, of course, wants to be beautiful and desirable.
All these fragments are, in fact, speech clichés that do not carry useful information and are not able to attract the reader’s attention. You need to get rid of such constructions, and the text should be rewritten.
Check the unity of form and content
Another important aspect of the text, which is closely related to the previous ones, is its style. If the task is to write something for ordinary users, you need to minimize the number of narrow terms (and, if possible, give their interpretation), remove professional slang, and refrain from unnecessary technical details. If the material was created for specialists, the manner of presentation may be more complex, and elementary things may not need to be explained in detail.