I know the saying goes that is far easier to edit a piece of writing than to start one from a blank page, but I sometimes find the editing process just as hard. These four steps recently offered by Ragan’s PR Daily have really helped me lately to break down the process of editing as well as examine a writing piece as a whole instead of focusing on particular grammar and punctuation errors.
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.
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:
- Does the structure make sense?
- Does the article flow from paragraph to paragraph and from section to section?
- Are introductory statements supported by the rest of the article?
- Do you need to move the background information to the end of the article and the explanatory quotes to the beginning?
- Is the article complete?
- Are there unanswered questions?
Marco-editing is also where I check my facts and my sources.
“Micro-editing” is done at the sentence level. It typically deals with the technical aspects of the article: sentence structure, style, usage, spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation, and capitalization.
Most often, the micro-editing stage is where I tend to get bogged down. Separating it from structural editing helps me focus on the nuts and bolts of the writing.
This fourth step may seem redundant, but I find that it helps to proofread the article after I’ve completed my macro-editing and micro-editing. I need one last sanity check after moving paragraphs or rewriting sentences. Since I’ve completed the rewriting tasks, I can focus on catching typos.
What do you think? Any other tips you find helpful during the editing process? I find step 1 incredibly hard to do, but worth it in the end. I also find it helpful to take a break away from the writing for a bit before completing a final proofreading. I am always surprised at what else I find with a fresh state of mind!