Copy editing your business documents is an essential part of the copywriting process.
Copy editing is done after you finish your draft and if you think it’s not necessary, remember even the world’s bestselling authors have editors; they know how important it is to get their copy just right.
Editing is different from proofreading, which is when you check your spelling, grammar and capitalisation, for example. Editing can be a more complex job than proofreading, but will improve your document tremendously. It can involve making major changes to your work.
Here are five tips for copy editing your business documents to help you along the way.
1. Check your document several times.
Making multiple edit runs is especially useful with complex documents such as technical writing and academic papers; however, it works well for short articles and blog posts as well. Really, all types of writing benefit from editing.
2. Give yourself time to rest before editing.
Once you write something, give yourself a break before you dive into the difficult task of tearing the document apart and rewriting it, which is a large part of the editing process. Getting away from it for a while will give you a fresh perspective when you come back to it.
3. Read the document before you make any changes, preferably aloud.
This will give you a chance to review your writing voice, the overall structure of your document, and the flow of the words—all things you might need to revise as you edit. It will also alert you to any red flags about factual content or mistakes in headers and footers. These elements are important when editing documents.
4. Keep your language simple.
Even if you are writing a business document, for readability’s sake, it’s best to use simple language and sentence structure. Also, be consistent with your style. For example, if you hyphenate a word in one place, make sure to hyphenate it throughout your document.
5. Use headers, bullets & numbered lists.
Sub-headings, bullet points and numbers lists break up your copy, especially in longer documents. This formatting also works for online writing where people are more likely to scan the copy; again, these elements will break up long text. This makes it easy for your reader to get the gist of the document, or makes the piece easier to read. Nobody wants to read a document that’s one big block of text and seemingly goes on forever.
One final tip…
If you don’t feel comfortable with your own writing and editing skills, have an experienced copy editor look at your work.