14 invaluable editing tips

Write with your readers’ needs, problems and preferences in mind. Then, nix nonessential words, aggressively tighten paragraphs, and take your sweet time.

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Not many people set out to become editors.

Editing is thankless, tedious work. It’s also the most crucial skill any communicator can cultivate.

Here are 14 ways to craft cleaner copy and tighten your work:

1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

Unless you’re keeping a journal, don’t write for yourself. Tailor your content to your audience’s needs and preferences. Before, during and after you write something, ask: “Would our core readers find this interesting?”

Consider your typical reader’s interests and problems. Does your piece answer a relevant question ? Would they click this headline? Is your writing above or below their experience level? Your answers will help you serve your audience’s needs.

2. Read your writing out loud.

Reading your work aloud draws attention to clunky phrasing, misused words, typos and convoluted sentence structures. It’s a great way to revisit your work with fresh eyes (and ears) after hours of writing.

Reading aloud helps more than your syntax. You’ll more easily detect lapses in your authentic voice—moments when your writing stops sounding like “you.” You might also discover opportunities to finesse the rhythm and pace of your writing.

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