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Marketing / Business writing

Polishing your words: why self editing matters

How many times have you hit 'send' or 'publish' on a piece of written communication, only to find as soon as it's live, there's a glaring typo or grammatical blunder? That's why self-editing and proofreading is so important.

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Self-editing and then proofreading your work isn’t a five-minute process, but if you’ve ever had that sinking sensation when you re-read your published work, you know the investment in time is worth it.

Polished written communication is a must if you want to project a professional, credible image. No matter how carefully crafted your written messages are, refinement prior to publication is almost always necessary.

One of the most effective ways to ensure a polished product is to edit it on several levels, focusing on a separate element each time – and not only on the typing and grammar.

Content

Firstly, what are you actually writing about? Is all of the information you’ve included relevant to your audience and your overall writing goal? Will your audience read on?

Secondly, is your information accurate, and are your claims consistent?

"Polished written communication is a must if you want to project a professional, credible image."

And have you cut through the fluff so your key messages stand out?

Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.

Structure

Are your paragraphs in a logical sequence and have you made clear transitions between them?

Does each paragraph stick to one main idea? This keeps your message clear and your reader engaged.

Clarity

Have you defined any terms that might be unclear to your reader? Does each sentence make sense? And have you chosen the best words to express your ideas?

Try to avoid using words you find in the Thesaurus that aren’t part of your normal vocabulary – you could misuse them, or you may just confuse your readers. 

Grammar

Grammatical errors can undermine your message and your credibility.

The use of correct grammar is important in projecting a professional image, but if it isn’t your strength, save the punctuation, spelling and grammar until you have addressed your other editing goals and finalised the content. Then question each punctuation mark. Ensure each sentence reads smoothly. If a sentence is complex, consider splitting it in two, or using a semicolon to break it up.

For more detailed guidance on grammar, check out some of the articles Mary Morel has written.

And finally, if you are unsure whether a word fits correctly, use a dictionary. If you’re still unsure, get a second opinion.

Once you’re completely satisfied with your content, a final proofread is vital.

Do you have tips for self-editing your work?

Caroline McDevitt

works with businesses to make their voice heard through superior written communication, and her new Writewords Writewell courses give you the skills to write with confidence.

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