THINK YOU’RE DONE EDITING? TAKE A STEP BACK.
A writer’s work is never done. When you’re writing, you can get so wrapped up in the proofreading and editing process that you miss a HUGE oversight or error in your copy. This goes for all writing – whether it’s a marketing letter, a web page, or a novel.
So, when you think you’re done writing and editing and proofreading everything, you’ve got one more milestone to go: Take a step back and examine your work from the 50-thousand foot level.
Now isn’t the time to get bogged down by periods and commas; you need to look at the big picture. Check your work for consistency and make sure you address some of these issues:
• Does the organization need any work? Your copy should flow logically from Point A to Point B. Make sure you’re not missing any steps and that you have strong links connecting each and every paragraph.
• Have you effectively addressed your reader? You need to make it clear that your reader knows that you have exactly what he wants. This means that all of the features of your product or service need to have a clearly outlined benefit to the reader (see our previous blog about benefits).
• Do your differentiators stand out? Be vigilant about making your company’s vital information clear and easy to understand – all of your paragraphs should lead off with a differentiator, and the first paragraph especially should explain and summarize to the reader why they can’t live without your product or service.
• Are there any logical errors? It can be easy to skip over vital information about something that you know very well – after all, you’re an expert on your company. Double check all of your explanations for clarity, making sure to spell out simply and concisely every aspect of your company (even if you think it’s silly, it could answer a reader’s question).
So, how can you ensure that your copy passes the 50-thousand foot level test? A few strategies to try:
• Give yourself some distance. Step away from the computer for a few hours and let your mind relax. Come back to your copy in the morning with a fresh set of eyes.
• Let someone else read it. Don’t give it to your mom or your closest co-worker: Try to pick someone who can give you an honest opinion, and preferably someone who doesn’t know anything about your product, service, company, or idea. Listen to any questions they may have or sources of any confusion – this is valuable information to a writer!
• Print it out. Everything looks different on paper than it does on a screen. Printing a hard copy of your work may bring to light something you missed earlier – no joke.
Know of any other strategies that can help in the final editing process? Leave a comment … I’m all ears.