4 steps to help you conquer any editing task

Overwhelmed by a piece of writing that seems impossible to revise? Break your process down into these steps to make it easier.

Ragan Insider Content

Professional editors are often made painfully aware that not all writers are created equal. Some of the content we are asked to edit may require a complete rewrite. Other pieces of writing may need only a single change.

Because it can be tough to edit the work of writers with varying degrees of skill, I’ve created a process that helps me edit on different levels. Editing to improve the structure of an article or press release is different from editing for style and usage.

Here’s a four-step method to help you “divide and conquer” any editing task.

1. Read and read only

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to read the article before making any changes. Keep your fingers off the keyboard (or put your pen down) and just read.

I know it’s tempting. You see a typo or a sentence that can be broken into two, and you want to change it immediately. Wait until you’ve finished reading the article. You should comprehend what you are reading without the distraction of catching errors or rewriting sentences.

2. Macro-editing

After reading, it’s time to focus on content. This is “macro-editing” at the paragraph level.

Macro-editing deals with the article’s overall structure. For instance:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.