25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy (Plus an Editing Checklist)

Writers rarely spit out their finest copy on the initial draft. Please let the rest of us understand if you meet a writer who declares to have the secret for doing so!
Drafts– and second drafts and sometimes thirds– exist to hash your concepts out on paper. After youve revised your book, story, blog post or article until you can revise no more, you just hand it off to your editor to clean up, right?
Well, that d be ideal. However most of us do not have the luxury of employing a costly editor to evaluate our personal blog site post It may even be difficult to spend the cash for a book editor. And since procrastination is the writers friend, you may not even have time to even ask a fellow writer pal take a quick peek for errors.
Therefore, in many cases, it falls to you to be your own editor.
How to edit: Follow these copyediting suggestions
Even if you do not want to end up being an editor, youve got to learn how to edit. Is it actually possible modify your own work when all the words you just finished writing are so precious? Yes! It can be done– and for the sake of making your writing stand apart, it must be done.
So pull up your most recently conserved draft, and get to work. To make it simple for you, weve contributed to the bottom of this list a printable and downloadable PDF that summarizes these copyediting suggestions into a list.
Heres how to edit your own work.
1. Cut long sentences in two
Im not discussing run-on sentences. Many long sentences are grammatically right. But long sentences frequently contain a number of concepts, so they can easily lose the readers focus because they do not offer a break, leading readers to get stuck or lose interest, and perhaps the reader may get bored and go view TV rather.
See what I imply? Attempt to offer each concept its own sentence if you spot a comma-heavy sentence.
2. Axe the adverbs (a.k.a. -ly words).
Adverbs weaken your copy due to the fact that these excess words are not really detailed. Rather than saying the girl runs quickly, say she runs.
Find a more powerful verb to change the weak verb + weak -ly adverb combo.
3. Stick to one voice.
In some cases its required to utilize both first and 2nd individual, however that can be disconcerting for readers. For example, you might start your intro speaking about yourself, then change midway through the piece and start resolving the reader. Attempt to stick to “I” voice or “you” voice throughout one piece of writing.
And if you should change, begin with one and complete with the other. Do not move back and forth between the 2. Your readers will get lost.
4. Eliminate additional punctuation.
A powerful hyphen here and a thought-provoking semicolon there can be effective. A piece of writing littered with all sorts of punctuation– parentheses, colons, ellipses, and so on– does not stream well.
Frequently, you can get rid of these extra pieces of punctuation with commas or by ending a sentence and beginning a new one. Which makes your writing that much stronger.
5. Replace unfavorable with favorable.
Instead of saying what something isnt, say what it is. “You dont wish to make these mistakes in your writing” might be much better specified as, “You wish to prevent these mistakes in your writing.” Its more simple.
If you find unfavorable statements in your composing that consist of do not, should not, cant or another such word, find a method to rewrite them without the “not.” That will probably mean you require to find a more powerful verb.
6. Change stuffy words with basic ones.
Some people think jargon makes their composing sound clever, but you know much better. Good writing does not puzzle readers. If they require to get a dictionary to end up a sentence, your writing has room for enhancement.
To get your point throughout, use words people recognize with. The English language has countless words. You can certainly discover a shorter or more typical word in your thesaurus than a jargony one.

7. Get rid of redundancies.
You do not require to say the specific same thing with 2 words. Did you catch the redundant words because sentence? Heres a better version: you dont require to say the exact same thing with 2 words.
Brand name new, advance preparation, basic needs … the list of these typical expressions is longer than this article. Take a look at About.coms 200 Common Redundancies and after that start snipping!
In some cases sneaky redundancies are separated by an “and.” They are neither if you say your sentences are to-the-point and straightforward. You do not require both words. Your sentences are straightforward. Or, your sentences are to-the-point.
8. Lower prepositions.
Though prepositions (of, in, to, for, and so on) are handy little words, they make sentences more lengthy due to the fact that they can not stand alone. Prepositions require lots of buddies. By cutting the preposition and the words that follow, you can cut three, four or even 5 words. Often a prepositional phrase can be replaced with just one more direct word, or cut completely.
A simple way to cut prepositions is to search for opportunities to make something possessive. The automobile of your next-door neighbor is really just your next-door neighbors vehicle.
9. Cut “in order to”.
You never ever need it. If youre going to the kitchen area in order to make a sandwich … Your sentence could be tighter. Because youre actually going to the cooking area to make a sandwich.
That “in order to” makes it take a millisecond longer to come to the meaty part of the sentence, which indicates your story is dragging more than it needs to.
10. Do not use “start to”.
Did you start to walk the pet dog, or did you walk the pet dog? Is the vehicle beginning to roll down the hill, or is it rolling down the hill?
” Start to” is a more hard phrase to handle than “in order to,” since often you do require it. However most likely than not, you do not.
Instead of making “start” the active verb, use the verb thats actually more active– like strolling or rolling– to tell your story.
11. Nix “that”.
In about five percent of your sentences (total guess from the grammar police), “that” makes your idea much easier to understand. In the other 95 percent, get rid of it!
” I chose that journalism was a good career for me” reads much better as “I decided journalism was a good profession for me.”.
12. Change “thing” with a much better word.
Usually when we compose “thing” or “things,” its because we were too lazy to think about a much better word. In every day life, we may request for “that thing over there,” however in your writing, calling anything a “thing” does not assist your reader.
Try to change all “thing” or “things” with a more descriptive word.
13. Try actually tough to identify instances of “very” and “really”.
This is a really difficult one to bear in mind. I nearly never ever get it right, till I go back through my copy, and the word jumps out at me, and then I alter the sentence to “This is a tough one to keep in mind.” Because really, how much is that “very” assisting you get your point across?
It does not make the job noise more hard. Exact same thing with “really.” Its not a “really” difficult pointer to bear in mind. Its simply a challenging tip to remember. Got it?
14. Make your verbs more powerful.
” Make” is in some cases used in the very same way as “start to,” in location of what could be a stronger verb.
For instance, I first titled this post, I composed “25 methods to make your copy stronger.” I realized the verb wasnt strong when I re-read it.
I d utilized “make” as the verb, when it doesnt tell the reader much at all. I changed the title to “25 ways to enhance your copy.” Ultimately I understood “tighten” was an even much better verb.
15. Ditch the passive voice.
Passive voice protrudes to editors, but it can be hard to see in your own writing. Knowing how to determine it and repairing these instances will make your composing more powerful.
Heres an example of passive voice: “The door was exposed.”.
To alter that sentence to active voice, it would appear like this: “Someone left the door open” or “He left the door open.” The concept is to be clear about who or what is performing the action.
Reedsy has a solid post discussing passive voice if you want to get excellent at this.
16. Describe individuals as “who” not “that”.
John is the guy who always forgets his shoes, not the man that always forgets his shoes.
Its easy to make this error because “that” has become appropriate in daily discussions. Its more visible when its composed down.
17. Prevent “presently”.
Pro copywriting tip: “Currently” is constantly redundant.
Dont compose: “Tom Jones is currently an interactions director.” Tom Jones is an interactions director at that minute. You dont need “presently” to clarify. Just eliminate it.
18. Get rid of “there is” or “there are” at the start of sentences.
This is frequently a symptom of lazy writing. There are great deals of better, more fascinating ways to start sentences.
See how easy it is to make this mistake? Rather of starting a sentence with “there is,” attempt turning the phrase around to consist of a start or verb with you.
For example, change the sentence above with “Start your sentences in a more intriguing way.” If your copy includes a great deal of phrases that begin with “there is” or “there are,” put some time into rewording most of them.
19. Compare your bullet points.
Bullet points are a reliable and popular way to organize complicated concepts. Just make certain your bullets represent one another.
Too often, writers mix and match errors with what you should do or shift to shoulds midway through the post– which only puzzles the reader.
If your piece is called 3 Career Mistakes You Dont Want to Make, heres a bullet point that works:.
Heres one that doesnt work (because its not actually an error– the author mistakenly changed to what you ought to do):.
You can turn most any idea into a pointer by adding a verb. : “Remember that sitting on your head assists you write better.” Make your bullet points consistent and your writing will read more smoothly.
20. Usage contractions.
Which sounds more personable: I am heading to the market that is close to my home, or Im heading to the market thats close to my house?
Contractions make your composing sound friendlier, like youre (not you are) a genuine person. And that makes it simpler to connect with readers.
Contractions can likewise make your post easier to understand and check out. Go out of your way to include them in your posts! Your editor will thank you.
21. Stay away from the “ing” trap.
” We were starting to …” or “She was skiing toward …” Whenever you see an “ing” in your copy, hesitate about whether you need it– because you probably dont.
Rather, get rid of “were” or “was,” then get rid of that “ing” and replace it with past tense: “We started to …” or “She skied toward …” Pruning extreme “ings” makes your writing clearer and much easier to check out.
22. Examine your commas with “that” and “which”.
When used as a descriptor, the word “which” takes a comma. The word “that” does not.
: “We went to the home that collapsed yesterday” or “We went to the home, which collapsed the other day.”.
Confused about when to utilize “that” vs. “which?” Grammar Girl provides a great explanation.
23. Replace “over” with “more than” for numbers.
Over 200 individuals did not like your Facebook page– more than 200 people did.
Obviously, everybody will know what you mean if you utilize “over.” The AP Styleguide, which numerous reporters follow as the bible of style, announced a couple of years ago that “over” is now appropriate in place of “more than.”.
But if were being actually nit-picky, using “more than” rather is still one a little information that will help your composing shine.
24. Hyphenate modifiers.
Whenever you modify a noun with more than one word, you need a hyphen. Lots of people do not follow this rule, so its an excellent method to reveal you really walk the walk.
That implies you need a hyphen if youre blogging about full-time work. You do not require one if youre working full time.
Got it? The exception: No need to hyphenate modifiers that end in “ly.” Those are OKAY on their own. So your newly employed staff member does not need that hyphen.
25. Determine your tells.
No matter how great of an author you are, when you take a seat to compose an initial draft, you tend to spit out sentences in a certain way or use specific words. The more familiar you become with editing your own copy, the more rapidly you must be able to select up on your informs. And, the more callous you can be to remove them from your writing.
” Start to” pestered me while writing my book; I made the “start to” mistake once again and once again. Once I knew to look for it during modifications, I was able to fix it.
( Hint: If this is a problem for you, attempt using Words or Google Docs search function to look for “start.” Youll catch every one, so you can evaluate them individually.).
Benefit: A modifying checklist for how to edit your work (its printable!).
Since we initially published this post back in 2013, many of you discussed bookmarking and sharing the post that we whipped up a pretty modifying list to choose it. Its readily available to print and download.
Pin this baby up on the wall above your desk, whip out your red pen, and get to work! Your article, function short article, or book will be tighter and stronger in no time as you find out how to make edits.
Click on it to bring up the full size if you want to download or print the modifying checklist.

This is an upgraded variation of a story that was formerly released. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure theyre helpful for our readers.
Some of these tips originally worked on Copyblogger and AlexisGrant.com. These pointers were assembled with the aid of Betsy Mikel..
Picture through Lamai Prasitsuwan/ Shutterstock.

About the Author: Alexis Grant.
Alexis Grant is CEO and founder of The Write Life. She began her profession in journalism, grew a blog-management company, then led the content department at a fast-growth media company, The Penny Hoarder. Shes always trying to find methods to support authors!

Some individuals think lingo makes their composing sound wise, however you understand better. Prepositions (of, in, to, for, etc.) are practical little words, they make sentences more prolonged because they can not stand alone. If youre going to the kitchen area in order to make a sandwich … Your sentence might be tighter. I d used “make” as the verb, when it doesnt inform the reader much at all. Make your bullet points consistent and your writing will check out more smoothly.

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