7 simple editing tips for crisp, clean copy

In today’s world of short attention spans, it’s crucial to convey your message quickly and simply. Make your writing tighter and more effective with these easy fixes.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a New York Times best-selling author or a blogger from Kansas—you have to edit your work.

Every writer’s goal is to save time while polishing his or her content. When you finish your first draft and it’s time to edit, use these seven strategies to hit all the right literary notes and end with a perfect final draft.

1. Cut filler words.

Phrases like “it takes,” “here is” and “there will be” detract from a sentence’s power. These phrases combine with other filler words such as “who” and “when” to pad out and weaken sentences.

Look for phrases like these, and train yourself to correct them:

Original: It’s fun to blog.

Better: Blogging is fun.

Original: There are many people who blog.

Better: Many people blog.

Original: Here are some ideas for you to try:

Better: Some ideas for you to try are:

If you’ve already described the subject, it’s OK to use words like “here,” “it” and “there.” For example:

I love to blog. It’s a great profession!

2. Use strong verbs.

Watch for words that lessen your message’s impact. Replace them with concise, powerful verbs.

Some examples:

Original: He went around the world.

Better: He traveled around the world.

Original: Give out free items.

Better: Offer free items.

Original: Make up a new idea.

Better: Create a new idea.

3. Employ powerful adjectives.

When you describe something, don’t use words such as “really” or “very.” Instead, use words that powerfully deliver your point:

Really gross versus disgusting

Really great versus phenomenal

Very large versus massive

Very pretty versus gorgeous

Even if you cut “really” and “very,” remember to focus on telling your readers what something is as opposed to what it isn’t. For example:

Original: It’s not that much fun.

Better: It’s boring.

Original: She’s not ugly.

Better: She’s gorgeous.

Original: Blogging isn’t hard.

Better: Blogging is easy.

Check out this food blogging article. Descriptive adjectives are imperative for this type of blog.

4. Trim fat from your phrases.

Most people skim content. Ease that process by keeping your sentences short and to the point. Look at these sentences, and imagine them without the bolded words. Don’t they read better?

Every single person should love blogging.

The real issue here is people love to talk.

You are going to have to remove the extra words.

5. Avoid nominalization.

Nominalization is the use of a weak noun in place of a strong verb or adjective. Nominalized sentences tend to include several words that pad them out:

Original: Give your blog posts a good proofread.

Better: Proofread your posts.

Original: Interruptions are the cause of slow work days.

Better: Interruptions cause slow work days.

Original: He has a high level of intelligence.

Better: He is intelligent.

6. Don’t overcomplicate commas.

Punctuation comes with many rules, and the poor comma has countless regulations. Shane Arthur from Boost Blog Traffic has a great policy on commas: “Use commas sparingly, but if you leave one out and it makes the reader stop reading, then add another comma!”

Read your sentences out loud. If they sound odd, add a comma to clarify. If all your thoughts run together, your reader will have to stop and reread the sentence.

7. Use noun modifiers.

A noun that modifies a second noun is a noun modifier. Noun modifiers shorten sentences. Consider these examples:

Original: Tips on blogging

Better: Blogging tips

Original: Great advice on how to boost focus

Better: Great focus-boosting advice

Original: Information regarding your award

Better: Award information

It’s easy to get swept up in the writing process, but always present your best work. Please share your editing tips in the comments.

Matt Banner is the author of On Blast Blog, a website that provides easy-to-read information on how to start and grow a blog. You can follow him on Twitter @blastyourblog. A version of this article originally appeared on the Grammarly blog.

This article originally ran on PR Daily in 2016.

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