When it comes to fiction, publishers, writers, and editors are well aware of the deep structural importance of story structure, description, and flow. In the era of self-publishing and the misperception of nonfiction as ‘dry’ and uninspiring, content producers do not consider developmental editing as often as they should.
This is an antiquated way of thinking, especially when it comes to digital marketing.
Conveying your knowledge and enthusiasm with clarity is essential – and that’s why developmental editing is a crucial part of the content development process.
As copy edits are less expensive, content producers often skimp on the deeper editing services – but for important work representing your corporate and personal brands, it’s just as important to take a look at the structure of your work.
That’s where developmental editing comes into play. Read on for the difference between copy editing and developmental editing, and three reasons why developmental editing works incredibly well for long-form content.
What’s the Difference Between Copy Editing and Developmental Editing?
Copy Editing covers:
Adherence to language structure or dialect (US English vs. UK English) and elimination of non-native language structure
Developmental Editing covers everything listed above in copy editing, plus:
Deep fact checking
Expert-level scrutiny of esoteric topic or industry
Remarks on the value of the content
Thorough checks for consistency
Ensuring the digital content is written around a focus keyword for optimal SEO
Match established brand voice and tone
Why Should You Consider Developmental Editing for Whitepapers, Ebooks, and Long Blog Posts?
If you’re an industry leader or looking to become one, you need top professional content in your category.
You want engaging and knowledgeable content more likely to rank higher in SERPs (search engine results pages) – or even better, Google knowledge graph placement, which positions you as the authority on any given topic.
According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), Kraft found content marketing to be four times more valuable than targeted advertising. With that value, you should put your best content out there – and that means polished, engaging work.
Do You Need Developmental Editing?
During the content development and discovery process, I find that many prospective Express Writers customers aren’t sure about what type of services they need. Some have general ideas and need help getting them onto the page.
Others have a fully developed piece of long-form content and need a thorough edit.
Based on these common conversations, here’s a handy chart to help you get exactly what you need out of Express Writers:
Still not sure what you need? Book a time with me and I’ll point you in the right direction! We’ll discuss your content, ideas, and business goals to make sure you get the right services for your needs.
Today, being a great copywriter also means being a great editor.
Gone are the days of simply tapping out a piece and sending it off to an editor somewhere, who will clean it up, polish it, and make it ready for publication.
Not only will this approach make your editors want to pull their hair out, but it also won’t do anything to help you grow your skills!
Instead, it’s critical for today’s working copywriters to hone their editing skills, so they can improve and strengthen their content as they write it, rather than simply doing a post-mortem when it comes back covered in red ink.
25 Editing Must-Dos for Smart Copywriters
To overhaul your editing game and write the best content of your life in 2017, follow these 25 smart editing tips:
1. Pay Attention While You Write
Great editing has its foundation in great writing. The more tuned-in and attentive you are as you write a piece, the easier it will be to edit later. With that in mind, start your editing process as you’re writing. Instead of writing with the television on, or in a loud area where you’re distracted by neighboring conversations, do yourself the courtesy of focusing entirely on the task at hand.
If you can work in a quiet office, that’s your best bet. If not, put on some headphones with some instrumental music that won’t damage your focus. Pay attention to every sentence you type and write like you’re going to go back and edit later. While you can’t expect your first draft to be Harvard Business Review-ready, you also aren’t doing anyone any favors by phoning it in.
2. Walk Away From All Your Content Before You Edit It
Want a recipe for terrible editing? Edit your content immediately after you’ve written it.
Writing is hard work, and forcing yourself to dive back into something with a fine-tooth comb after you’ve just wrapped up the writing process isn’t smart.
Instead, write your piece and then walk away for a few hours (at least), or a day.
This serves two important purposes:
It gives your brain a chance to let go of the content and view it with a fresh perspective later.
Secondly, it allows you to think about what you’ve written, and catch your own typos, misspellings, and grammar mistakes, which can be tough to identify when you dive right back in.
3. Read for Flow
“Flow” is an intangible thing that all great writing has to have. If you read through your content and find that it’s jolty, confusing, or broken, you’ve got a problem. One great way to identify flow issues is to read your content out loud.
Since you’re the person who wrote the material, and thus the one who is most familiar with it, reading it out loud should be a piece of cake for you. If you stumble over words or get stuck, though, you can bet the flow needs some adjustment.
Read all your material for flow, before you even evaluate it for grammar or structure.
4. Strive for Powerful Intros
Content without a powerful intro is like a cake without frosting: boring, dry, and unappealing. To make your content exciting for both your editors and your readers, it’s essential to pay some additional attention to your intro. Ideally, your introduction should “grab” the reader, and make him or her intensely interested in what comes next.
Again, this is a component of editing that requires you to walk away from your content for a while. When you come back to it and read the first line, are you interested? Do you feel compelled? If you have a hard time making this judgement call yourself, ask a friend to read the material for you and give you their opinion.
Since strong intros are so essential to the overall readability of your material, putting in the time and effort to get them right will help overhaul your material, in the long run.
5. Use Tools to Grade Your Headlines
Today, crafting a great headline doesn’t require you to rely solely on your own creativity.
Tools like the Advanced Marketing Institute headline analyzer can evaluate your headline and “grade” it according to its concentration of intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual words, as well as metrics like length and keyword inclusion. 40%+ is a great grade to aim for.
Instead of just rattling off a headline and calling it good, plug your next title into one of these machines and see what comes up. If your headline isn’t as strong as it should be, spend the time to fix it.
Remember: 80% of people read your headline, while only 20% read body copy, so investing in your headline is a smart decision.
6. Use Several Grammar Checkers
In the modern world, Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar checker won’t cut it. To make sure your content is web ready, run it through a few different checkers, such as Grammarly and the one on your word processor, to catch any mistakes you didn’t see with the naked eye.
7. Use Hemingway to Simplify Your Content
Hemingway is an app that helps make your writing “bold and clear.”
When you plug a content segment into the app, it highlights sentences that are difficult to read, proposes simpler words, and highlights passive voice. Ideal for anyone who writes for the web on a regular basis, this app is a great way to lower the reading level of your content and make it more appealing for multiple audiences.
8. Clean Up Your Language
As a copywriter, it pays to know the difference between casual voice and being unprofessional. While it’s one thing to seem warm and approachable, it’s another to alienate readers or editors with sloppy language.
What’s more, the latter can actually cost your clients business. With this in mind, read through your content for any language that can be enhanced and made more professional.
9. Avoid Self-Aware Statements
Editors hate reading statements like this one:
“Today, we’re going to give you ten tips to clean your gutters faster. Read on to find out more.”
If you’re writing well, your title and meta description will tell your reader what they’ll learn from the content, so you don’t need to reiterate it again in the body copy. What’s more, the assumption is that, if you’ve crafted a compelling introduction, your reader will want to read on, so you won’t have to tell them to do it.
When you avoid self-aware statements like this, you keep the flow of your content intact and provide a more enjoyable experience for your readers.
10. Don’t get Attached
To be a successful editor, you have to release attachment to your work. If you’re editing correctly, you’re going to hack away a good deal of the content you wrote in your first draft, and that’s okay. If you can stay un-attached to your material, you can see it for what it really is rather than what you wish it would be, which also allows you to adjust it as needed.
11. Save the Things You Chop
As you remove content from your first draft, open another document and drop it in there, instead. Editing is a fluid process, and you may find later that the piece you removed from the first paragraph fits well in the fifth. By saving your edited-out material until you’re sure that you no longer need it, you can create cohesive content that reads and flows well.
12. Edit In Small Bursts
Unless you’re editing a very small piece of content, you’ll want to edit in several short bursts. In addition to preventing overwhelm, this will also allow you to maintain a clear eye for the content and support the flow throughout the piece.
13. Anticipate Your Readers’ Questions
The worst thing you can create for a reader is confusion, so it’s essential to anticipate your readers’ questions as you edit your material. If, at any point, it seems like your information or thesis may not be clear for your reader, re-evaluate and correct it. The simpler your content, the better.
14. Shorten Everything
Concise content is readable content. This is as true for a 6,000-word monster post as it is a 500-word micro blog. To make your content more readable and user-friendly, shorten your sentences and paragraphs. Look for places you can eliminate unneeded words and phrases and simplify your language. When you make it easy for your reader, they’re more willing to want to engage.
15. Be Consistent
Inconsistency confuses readers in blog posts. With this in mind, keep your voice, references, terms, and phrases consistent throughout your content. The more reliable you are, the more trustworthy you’ll appear to readers and clients. Simple things, like inconsistent capitalization or punctuation can ruin an otherwise good piece.
16. Develop a Process
Everyone edits differently, but maintaining a process is essential for a flawless execution. No matter how you prefer to edit your material, hone it into a process you can rely on an execute every time you sit down to evaluate a piece. This will standardize your editing and make for more consistent finished products.
17. Check for Spelling and Grammar
Yes, great editing still requires that you check your spelling and grammar. Be particularly aware of simple word mix-ups that word processors don’t always catch (such as “compliment” and “complement”), or words that you’ve added to your personal dictionary that may be incorrect.
18. Break Your Sentences into Individual Words
As you read through your content, ask yourself if that word fits where you put it. Is there a better option? Would an alternative word communicate your point more effectively? If the answer is yes, change it. This kind of micro-focus will serve you well as you progress in your career as a writer.
19. Write Yourself Notes
As you move through your content, use your word processor’s “track changes” feature to leave notes in your material. The next time you make a pass through the content, refer to these notes and ensure you’ve resolved any issues of quality, clarity, or flow.
20. Make it Specific
Vague pronoun reference will sink great writing every time. With this in mind, replace vague words like “it,” “they,” “them,” and “stuff,” with more specific alternatives.
21. Take Multiple Passes
Edit your finished piece two or three times before you turn it in. While this may seem like overkill, being as thorough as possible will decrease the legwork you leave for your editors and make your finished material more enjoyable.
22. Take a Walk in Your Reader’s Shoes
Before you submit your material, think about it from your reader’s perspective. Does it answer their questions, provide value, and come off as relatable? Make any last-minute changes you might need to check all the boxes.
23. Format it Beautifully
Great content is formatted well. Use a readable font, standard font size, H2 and H3 tags, and bulleted and numbered lists to make your material reader-friendly and simple to skim.
24. Do the Skim Test
If you had to read your material fast, could you? Today, many readers skim content rather than reading it in its entirety. If your material doesn’t pass the “skim test,” it might need to be re-worked.
25. Be Ready for Feedback
Once you’ve passed the content along to your editors, be receptive of feedback. Cruel editors are few and far between, and everyone benefits when editors and writers work together to create better content.
Better Editing Starts Here
While most writers believe that editing isn’t their responsibility, these 25 steps can make you a better writer, a better team member, and, yes, a better editor! All writing benefits from great editing, and honing your own skills is a fantastic way to become a more in-demand copywriter.
We’ve all been there: a time when a simple misspelling caused a big problem.
I’ve watched a colleague write an entire report in which he misspelled “public” as “pubic” – as in “the department of pubic affairs.”
Talk about embarrassing.
When simple misspellings slip past a big company’s editors, though, the problems run deep. It can cause embarrassment on a national scale, where fun is poked at your error for as long as the internet is around, or it could even mean a huge loss of funds.
If you’ve ever thought, “Help! I need an editor!” read on to be inspired to do just that by learning more about some of the costliest misspellings that occurred.
I Need an Editor: 10 Prodigious Spelling Mistakes That Cost Thousands (And Maybe Lots, Lots More)
It’s not just dollars that were lost by some of these grammar snafus…it’s reputations. Check out some of the world’s biggest brands who experienced a few simple grammar errors that are still reverberating around the internet. For some of them, it was down to just a few wrong numbers or one piece of punctuation.
A branch of Japan’s second-largest bank, Mizuho Securities was working on a project to sell shares of a company via the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The project was clipping along well enough until one of the employees at Mizuho made a big typo.
While the company had intended to sell single shares for 610,000 yen, the employee got it backwards and listed 610,000 shares for the low, low price of 1 yen.
Within less than 24 hours, the company had hemorrhaged $340 million.
2. Missing apostrophe’s, Old Navy?
Old Navy is famous for producing comfortable, stylish t-shirts with catchy slogans, but the brand cost itself lots of money when it mistakenly printed an entire run of sports-centric t-shirts without the apostrophe in “Let’s Go!”
(Missing apostrophes make my teeth chatter…)
Needless to say, this snafu cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars and delayed its ability to deliver the product to the consumer. What’s more, the mistake also resulted in plenty of Twitter jeering and joking on the part of former Old Navy fans.
3. Grammar snafu at Victoria’s Secret
Like Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret is famous for being cheeky when it comes to their clothing. It seems like the massive lingerie brand could use an editor, though, especially after they released a Secret Body campaign in 2013 with this catchphrase…
“You’ve never seen body’s like this!”
Yikes. Despite the fact that Victoria’s Secret has a completely massive marketing budget, it seems like they couldn’t afford a bit extra to pay an editor.
4. Dear America: Mitt Romney’s ad campaign demise
When Republican candidate Mitt Romney ran for office, he made a big mistake in his own campaign. To the delight of his opponents, Mitt’s mobile app misspelled America to “Amercia.”
As you can imagine, Twitter went wild and, while the campaign never went on record about the snafu, they fixed it hastily, losing many supporters and backers in the process.
5. Think you’re genius, H&M? Think again
Ah, H&M, your story has been a long and bumpy one.
Despite its position as the go-to clothing company for Millennials, H&M has made several simple grammar mistakes that could have easily been prevented by an editor.
One great example is a t-shirt the company released that featured a Thomas Edison quote wherein the world “Genius” was tragically misspelled:
6. Poor Nike support (grammatically, that is)
While we appreciate Nike’s willingness to address its customers’ issues, the Nike Support team made a massive grammar mistake when it confused “then” and “than.” While we understand that grammar mistakes happen, the Twitter jeering that resulted from this particular grammar mistake isn’t good for anyone.
It would be better if @NikeSupport had posted “you have more [than] one” instead. ‘Then’ doesn’t compare; ‘than’ does.
Even HubSpot, our dear influencer in the world of all things content marketing, makes a mistake now and again. The company was the first to call itself out on a Facebook post that said: “Are your press releases been keeping up?”
Luckily, a bit of humor is the best medicine for grammar mistakes, and the company recovered quite nicely.
Thumbs up to Hubspot for handling it the right way.
8. Run towards better grammar, Reebok
What happens when you build a faulty advertising campaign and post it all over New York subways? You get ridiculed, that’s what!
Unfortunately, Reebok experienced this exact fate when it published its “Run Easy New York” campaign, which read like this:
9. Stella Artois: Great taste, bad grammar
While everyone loves the crisp and refreshing taste of imported beer Stella Artois, not everyone loves the grammar mistakes the company used to make in its marketing campaign. One notable example is this apostrophe splice, which did some serious damage to the brand’s credibility:
While this simple snafu could’ve been avoided with the help of an editor, it looks like the company didn’t have the budget or time for such things!
10. L.L. Bean finds out that misspelled phone numbers make bank
L.L. Bean made headlines when it sent out a back-to-school catalogue to millions of homes. Unfortunately, the catalogue hadn’t been edited well enough and, instead of including their own phone number, the company had included the phone number of a Virginia company that was in no way related.
The mistake became costly when L.L. Bean was forced to buy the phone number from the Virginia company in question, at a cost of upwards of six figures.
5 Easy Ways to Avoid Misspellings in Your Online Content
As you’ve seen from the examples above, grammar mistakes can cost you big in your content, business, and even your overall reputation.
Regardless of whether it’s a simple comma splice or an all-out misspelling, these things have the potential to steal thousands and even millions of dollars from your company.
Luckily, there’s a way to avoid this fate.
Here’s five easy ways you can avoid spelling and grammar mistakes in your online writing:
1. Take your time
There’s no way to argue that HubSpot didn’t understand what was proper grammar and what wasn’t. Instead of being born from a lack of knowledge, their grammar mistake was likely born from a lack of time. This is a common problem.
When you’re rushing to create advertising content, it’s easy to make mistakes.
Avoid this outcome by taking your time and ensuring that everything you write is on-point before you push it through to your followers.
2. Read through your content
The more eyes on a piece of content the better.
Before you push it out to your readers, go back through and give the material you’ve written a read.
You’ll likely catch mistakes you hadn’t noticed in the writing process and be able to fix them before they move through to an editor.
3. Use a grammar checker
Since grammar has become so essential in online content, there are several excellent, free grammar checkers available today.
While the spelling and grammar check built into your word processor will likely do an excellent job, third-party services like Grammarly are sought-after for their accuracy and comprehensiveness. I love Office Word for its built-in spell checker.
Give your text a run through a service like this before it gets published.
4. Keep an eye on your comments
If by chance you do miss a spelling or grammar mistake and it finds its way into your online content, your followers will likely be the first to notice.
With this in mind, keep an eye on your comments and mentions.
If someone sees a mistake you missed, fix it immediately to keep the follower backlash and potential financial repercussions to a minimum.
5. Hire an editor!
That’s right – you need an editor!
Want to know a secret? I involved multiple editors in the writing of this post. That’s right. Even though I’m a professional copywriter, I know I’m not the best editor for my own content.
You need that “final eye.” Even if you’re a long-time, professional writer with a background in all types of great content, hiring an editor is a simple yet efficient way to make sure embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes don’t populate your content.
In addition to catching mistakes before they go public, a good editor can also help you craft better content, cater more efficiently to your reader’s needs, and develop a brand voice that helps grow rather than damage your company.
Say it with us, “I Need an Editor”
There’s not a single company on earth that couldn’t benefit from the services of a good editor.
Because spelling and grammar mistakes are so easy to make and can be so incredibly costly, hiring a great editor is a wise business decision that can potentially save you millions down the road.
Even if you’ve never worked with an editor before, enlisting the skills of a good one can completely overhaul your business. With this in mind, don’t hesitate to get to work hiring an editor sooner rather than later. While some of the spelling and grammar mistakes listed in this article may be funny, you won’t be laughing when and if they come to affect your business.
While many brands balk at the expense of an editor, the fact of the matter is that a good editor is much, much cheaper than the longstanding costs of a preventable (and embarrassing) spelling or grammar mistake. Don’t lower your standards to rush or be cheap: hire one for your content.
Imagine this, you’re driving there, and you see a farm stand coming into view on the horizon.
Your mouth waters as you imagine the juicy produce, and your mind begins to fill with fantasies of fresh-picked cherries, strawberries, apples, raspberries, honeys and jams and maybe even some delicious veggies to throw on the grill during dinner that night.
As you get closer, however, you realize that this isn’t just any fruit stand. This is a fruit stand that appears to be in desperate need of a good writer, as evidenced by the spray-painted wooden sign that advertises “zookeene”, “tater + maters,” “hallopinyo” and…
Your favorite member of the entire vegetable family – “bail peprs.”
3 Other Major Sign Mistakes (Aka Why You Need a Writer)
Hold your giggles now folks, because this is exactly what happened to customers at the infamous “zookeene” farm stand and, while there is certainly a decent amount of power in sounding out difficult words, we can probably all agree that this is just one piece of evidence that indicates the need for good writers in all industries.
Why you need a writer is about to be illustrated in 3,2,1…
1. The Case of Patterson School 20’s Misspelled Sign
When students arrived at Patterson School 20 in Patterson, New Jersey in December 2014, they were in for a surprise. There, on the school’s marquee sign prominently located directly above the entrance to the prestigious establishment, was the newest of the school’s monthly information boards. This one, however, read like this:
Watch out kids, those teachers are out to dice and reepor you this month!
It didn’t take long, of course, for students and faculty to notice that, not only was December misspelled “Dicimber” and report as “reepor” but also that there was a ‘1’ facing noticeably backwards.
To make matters worse, the school’s principal, who earned a salary of roughly $108,000 per year, left the sign up for an entire week, seeming not to notice the multiple mistakes.
As a result, the school board grew angry and the principal, Antoinette Young, was quickly relocated to a different school district – all over a proofreading failure that went embarrassingly public. And that my friends is why you need a writer (or just a good copyeditor).
2. The Montgomery Debacle
As if losing a job weren’t bad enough, imagine losing several thousand dollars over a misspelling. This is exactly what happened in Montgomery, Pennsylvania when the Montgomery County Court House left an important ‘m’ out of “commissioners” and produced a grand total of 26 signs throughout the county that had glaring and obvious misspellings on both sides, resulting in the need to fix a whopping 52 sign panels to rectify the mistake.
After a call from the public and elected officials to fix the signs, Montgomery did so, at a cost of $4,000. To add insult to injury, the city projects that the signs will need to be replaced yet again after the local general election, resulting in another several thousand-dollar expenditure.
3. The Case of the Misspelled Spelling Bee
When two young girls, Maiesha Akhand and Anamaria Brown came out as victors of the Centennial Elementary spelling bee, they expected local fame and maybe their name on the school’s marque sign. In the end, they got both but they were in for a bit of a surprise when their bus rolled by the billboard on the way out of town and they were met with this:
Little did the girls know that the students would soon become the teachers, both in spelling and in irony.
There’s A Growing Epidemic, And It’s Called Bad Spelling
If the state of our spelling is this bad with all of our current technology, just imagine a civilization without spell check. Misspelled signs are popping up in everything from “A State Sales” to homemade billboards advertising “farwood fer sale.”
Although these signs seem funny, and indeed they are, they also provide a pretty obvious reminder that there is no end to the value of a good writer – no matter what you’re selling.
Although the “zookeenes” example is hilarious in its absurdity, it’s clear that these mistakes also make their way into high-level affairs, such as official city signage and school billboards and it goes without saying that it’s difficult to be taken seriously as an individual or an institution when your literature is riddled with misspellings.
In addition to writing, optimizing sites for search engines, incorporating keywords into content and helping devise marketing and promotional materials, a great writer can also play the important role of proofreader and editor, which evidence has shown may be more important than anything else, in some cases. Businesses need a good writer more than they know.
Although misspellings like Westar Mart’s “Ice Cold Bear” are hilarious at first glance, oversights like this can be detrimental for business at a higher level and spelling, as it turns out, is an indiscriminate and persistent scourge.
Misspellings affect everyone from fruit salesmen to lawyers (as was the case when one attorney misspelled public as ‘pubic’ – as in “in consideration of important pubic matters” – all throughout a27 page legal document) and can cost a business time, money and sales.
Everyone makes them and everyone hates them. Typos are the bane of the Internet’s existence, creating turmoil for grammar Nazis and fodder for those who like to mock typos. Facebook understands how many typos are made and they created a way for users to correct their mistakes, but what happens when it comes to writing your content? You probably will not have the Facebook users who will comment and make sure you know just how many typos your content has. It can be pretty embarrassing if you notice them days later. It can also be detrimental to your search engine ranks. This blog will explore how typos can impact your rankings, how to avoid typos, and some of the most commonly misspelled words.
Is it Really Detrimental?
Unfortunately, it is. While the occasional typo will not be a detriment, if you consistently have typos it will begin to hurt your rankings. As Search Engine Land points out, Google and Bing have begun ranking posts that not only use specific keywords, but also are high quality. If your posts have many typos all the time, they, logically, will not be considered quality. You probably think that sucks, but would you trust a site that always makes errors in their posts and content? No. You would find them unprofessional and you would not believe them when they stated they were the leaders in their field. Make sure your content is free from errors.
Thankfully, though, you do not have to worry about user comments dragging you down. Matt Cutts of Google put everyone’s minds at ease by saying that as long as your content is grammatically sound and free from error, user comments will not change your ranks. In fact, those comments reflect on the commenter, not the writer of the blog.
Avoid those Typos!
We know that you think that it will be difficult to spot all of those typos, but we are here to give you a few tips on how to avoid typos in your future content.
1. Read Out Loud. Reading your content out loud is a great way to find errors you have made. When reading silently, our brains do something amazing, yet annoying – they fill in the errors with the correct word. Reading slowly and aloud will help you come across the times you use “you” instead of “your” or use “it” instead of “if.”
2. Take More Time. Don’t rush your writing. We understand deadlines, but if you rush, you will find that your content is sloppy and filled with errors. Hurrying makes you use “their” instead of “there” or other groan-worthy mistakes. Schedule out your writing assignments so that you do not have to do a lot of rushing on the day it is due. This will give you the ability to take all the time you need to research and properly write your article or blog.
3. Get Fresh Eyes. Brafton.com suggests getting fresh eyes to read your content. You can only find so many typos before you begin to go blind to others. Fresh eyes will find things you didn’t find and can tell you if your post makes sense or is redundant. In addition, fresh eyes will read the article fully, whereas you are probably beginning to skim your writing. Skimming is a big no-no when it comes to proofreading! A great place to start with getting fresh eyes is by hiring copy editors. They are specially trained to work with all kinds of copy. Copy editors can offer amazing suggestions for corrections to be made. They will catch all kind of mistakes and typos, saving you from embarrassingly publishing something chockfull of errors.
4. Grammarly. While it does not catch every mistake, Grammarly is a great tool to help writers proofread their content. It tells you when you misspell a word, use a commonly confused word, or it will correct basic grammar and do many other cool things. It is important to note that it is not foolproof and it will not catch everything, and sometimes it makes some wonky suggestions! Always proofread and make sure their suggestions fit with your writing.
Commonly Misspelled Words.
When you make a mistake, it is natural to feel ashamed and embarrassed, but remember that a lot of other writers and editors make similar mistakes. This doesn’t mean you can slack off on your proofreading; it just gives you a sigh of relief that you aren’t the only one to make blunders.
Definitely – Definately (our fingers just felt terrible typing that!)
Receive – Recieve
Occurrence – Occurence
Government – Goverment
Regardless – Irregardless (ouch!)
We should also mention, “could of” and “should of” as being a common mistake made in the majority of writings. Do your best to stay away from these and always double check that you haven’t fallen into typing terrible typos. You might even pop on over to The Oatmeal and check out their list of The Top Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling.
Everyone makes typos at some point and everyone publishes said typos. It is something we will all do, but you have to take measures to make sure you do not publish typos consistently. By following the steps listed above, you will be able to stop those typos from being published and your search engine rankings will not suffer.
In the world of online content, copy editors are many things.
They’re the referees, the quality control, the champions of great writers, the seekers of incredible topics, and the organizational force that keeps the entire thing running.
In many ways, copy editors make the internet go around, except that you’d never see them doing it.
This is because copy editors work largely behind the scenes, and they only come out at choice moments, like when they’re written up in The New Yorker and congratulated for their lifetime of work, for which they’ve earned the title of “The Comma Queen.”
This is rare, though, and copy editing is largely a thankless job.
That being said, though, it’s also a critically important one, and good copy editors are worth their weight in gold.
With that in mind, I want to take today to talk about how to be a good copy editor. It’s an essential skill, and even people who work in different sectors of online business could stand to learn a thing or two from these powerhouse professionals.
Why Good Copy Editors Matter
If nobody was out there enforcing comma standards, the world as we know it would fall to shambles.
Alright, while it may not be as dramatic as all of that, copy editors have an incredibly important job: they make sure that the copy that gets to major publications, blogs, and platforms in hundreds of industries is readable, relevant, and informational.
They act as quality control for thousands of pieces of content each year.
Imagine if the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CNN refused to hire copy editors. High-brow journalism as we know it would change, and it would be exceedingly difficult to control the quality of content in any publication.
With this in mind, it’s clear that copy editors do an important job every single day. Now, let’s explore the traits that separate a great copy editor from a so-so one.
How to be a Good Copy Editor: 5 Must-Have Traits
While copy editors work in varying industries and specialties, each great copy editor shares the following characteristics:
1. Passion for the industry and the content within it
You can’t be a copy editor without a real, authentic passion for the sector within which you work.
If an editor doesn’t eat, breathe, and sleep copy, excelling at the job will be difficult, and low-quality content will begin to seep in around the edges.
This is evident in the way Mary Norris, the copy editor for The New Yorker talks about her position is a recent essay in the magazine itself:
“Then I was allowed to work on the copydesk. It changed the way I read prose—I was paid to find mistakes, and it was a long time before I could once again read for pleasure. I spontaneously copy-edited everything I laid eyes on. I had a paperback edition of Faulkner’s ‘The Hamlet’ that was so riddled with typos that it almost ruined Flem Snopes for me.”
Good copy editors do what they do almost compulsively, and they do it because they love the quality of well-written, error-free content.
Without this deep-seated passion, it’s tough to integrate fully into the position.
2. Some type of formal training
While a copy editor doesn’t necessarily need an English or Journalism degree, they do need some level of formal training in grammar, spelling, writing, SEO, newspaper methods, reporting, computer science, graphical programs, and more.
While much of this can be learned on the job, a copy editor’s job would be trial by fire without at least a passing level of prior knowledge in these areas.
Since a copy editor’s job is to ensure published content fulfills the purpose it’s meant to achieve, be that driving sales or informing readers, a broad knowledge of all things writing is essential.
3. Creativity and a healthy willingness to think outside the box
Sometimes a copy editor is given a piece that’s too long. Sometimes, a 500-word article doesn’t get to the heart of the topic. Sometimes, a piece needs to be cut, but there’s no right place to do it.
In these situations, being able to develop creative solutions is critical. While copy editors are, first, professionals, they’re also artists who must know how to execute surgical maneuvers on pieces of content every now and again.
Creativity is as important to editors as it is to writers, and the best copy editors out there will understand how to integrate creativity with professionalism to create outstanding content that leaves its mark on readers.
4. Ability to see the connections between things
If a piece is related to another issue that’s recently come up in pop culture or current events, a copy editor must be able to locate the connection.
If an article might perform better in a separate section of a publication, a copy editor must be able to bridge the gap mentally and ensure that the content winds up where it will make the most impact.
In other words, it’s critical for copy editors to have a keen sense of connections. In addition to allowing the editor to make smart content decisions, this also helps boost the editor’s efficiency and ensure that each piece of content published falls into the greater web of things just as it should.
5. Flexibility and a willingness to bend
Copy editors work with dozens of moving parts on a daily basis.
Between the writers, the publishers, and the design team, there are dozens of opinions, challenges, and conflicts to be navigated, and any copy editor who will become successful in the business must be flexible and willing to adapt.
Since each publication, writer, and editor has different expectations, guidelines, and concerns, copy editors must be fluid enough to navigate the different crags and outcroppings of the industry gracefully. Without these traits, the job is simply too stressful, and few people can hack it.
This is yet another reason why great copy editors are so very rare, and so very, very skilled.
How to Be a Good Copy Editor: Start With Love
At the end of the day, good copy editors love content, and they’re excited about putting out good material. Without this foundational passion, it’s tough to get anywhere in the business.
While many things make copy editors critical pieces of the content system, it’s their love for the craft that truly sets them apart.
By honing, tweaking, finessing, and smoothing content in all industries and specialties, copy editors play a critical role in delivering informative, exciting, relevant content to audiences everywhere.
Do you need a skilled copy creator? Contact Express Writers to learn more about our content services today!
If you’re reading this, then it’s safe to say that at least part of what you do during your workday, this day at least, involves writing. A staggeringly large number of professions involve writing to a certain degree, whether it’s penning e-mail correspondence as a customer service representative, typing up a new company compliance policy as a general manager, creating a press release as an advertising representative, or writing that novel you’ve always wanted to finish. If you’re writing something that needs to stand up to scrutiny, something that needs to be flawless and persuasive, or compelling and concise, then you just may need to get yourself a copy editor.
What’s a copy editor, you ask?
A copy editor, put simply, is a your very own grammatical sounding board for all that you’ve spent your time working on. A good copy editor will read over what you’ve written, note places where spelling, spacing, or grammar is incorrect, and will suggest changes to awkward phrases. They will also sometimes let you know if a particular section needs more information, citations, a little tweaking, a little less fluff, or if it’s just plain bad.
Now, that sounds a little painful, particularly because you’ll be ostensibly paying this copy editor to pick apart your magnum opus, but believe us when we tell you this: It’s for the best. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons why you will most certainly benefit from all of the pain and discomfort that hiring a copy editor will introduce to your life.
You’re too close to the material
It’s less a case of “you can’t see the forest for the trees,” and more a case of “you’ve stopped paying attention to the fact that all of the leaves are the wrong color because you haven’t seen a green one since you entered this forest.” A copy editor, first and foremost, is there to be an unbiased third party. You’ve read your copy over and over, you’ve obsessed over it, you’ve been through it backwards. You are absolutely convinced that there is no better way to say what you’re trying to say – but a copy editor hasn’t been swimming in your prose like you have. A fresh pair of eyes is never a bad thing – and in the case of the copy editor, it’s a trained pair of eyes. Your copy editor will find ways to improve your piece. If he or she believes it’s perfect just the way you wrote it, then hire a different copy editor.
You know what you mean
No one lives in your brain except for you. Phrases, idioms, and awkward sentences may make perfect sense to you but be confusing to someone else. Your copy editor will identify the places that are potentially confusing and will work with you to purge your copy of “I know what I meant” syndrome. Everyone, even the humble author of this blog who has arguably above-average grammar skills, has a few words that always escape their spelling ability, a few holes in their knowledge of the proper use of commas, apostrophes, or semicolons, or other grammatical “quirks” that may seem fine to you but will make you look amateurish in front of a reader who catches those mistakes. A good copy editor will also know what you mean – and he or she will explain it in a way that makes you look perfectly polished and professional.
You’re not as thorough as you think.
When you compose a piece, you may get an entire train of thought out of your head and onto the page, but usually writers find that on further inspection, we’re not as thorough as we thought we were. A good copy editor will not just inspect your copy for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and clear language – a good copy editor will also think of the questions you didn’t think of, the rebuttals you didn’t consider, and the flaws in your logic. A good copy editor will ensure that the copy that makes it to your customers’ eyes is as complete and thorough as possible, and that makes you look like you’ve done all your homework.
So – what does a copy editor do? A copy editor passes over your writing for grammatical accuracy, proper spelling, correct punctuation, clarity of language, eloquence of thought, a proper flow, and finally, ensures that your copy is thorough and well thought out. In short, your copy editor is not here to pick apart your hard-earned creation or to squabble over the nuances of journalistic style guides vs. literary style guides. Your copy editor, if you’ve got a good one, is on your side, and his or her job above all is to make you, your company, and your writing look as good as it can possibly look.
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