15 Copy Editing Tips that Can Transform Your Content into Persuasive and Shareable Works of Art

15 Copy Editing Tips that Can Transform Your Content into Persuasive and Shareable Works of Art

Reader Comments (36)

  1. I’d kiss you Stephanie, but my girlfriend wouldn’t be too happy…

    Awesome tips! Editing and re-editing is critical in crafting content that resonates with readers and encourages them to commit action.

    The only tip I’d add here is – get critical feedback from others.

    I ask one or two people to be as harsh as possible in critiquing my work (assuming I have the time) before submitting it to clients or my blog.

    When writing, simple mistakes that we’d pick up from others escape our view even after detailed proofreading. Simply by giving it to someone else with an unbiased eye, they can spot these silly mistakes before they have a chance to ruin our content!

    • We’re often “too close” to our own writing and easily overlook obvious mistakes because they appear correct (to us) when we read a draft we’ve written.

      Helpful feedback from unbiased people can seem like magic, but it’s actually just so effective because something that doesn’t make sense will quickly pop out to them. And, of course, you want everything in your final draft to make sense (to everyone).

      Glad you “edited” your own actions, too, and realized that kissing me would not be wise—an idea reserved for your first draft only, ha!

      Thanks for reading, Daryl!

  2. Stefanie – these tips are great ! Reading them makes me feel like an editor feels ! I definitely have more to do when it comes to editing my work.

    It’s a piece of art – it deserves to be treated so.

    I always read my posts out loud. It helps with the flow of writing. And yes, I DO appear nuts when I do this in a coffee place.

    – Razwana

  3. Thanks for CMKR and the 5th U, Stefanie

    Here’s my most closely guarded secret editing trick. I save my final version as a pdf for one last proofreading, like casting a sculpture in bronze to see how the light hits it.

    It helps me read as if it’s a finished work, and I usually pick up something that needs changing. I sometimes wind up with a dozen “finals”.

    I’ll never fully understand how my brain works, but I keep finding ways to trick it 🙂

    Nice post.

  4. Love your first bit of advice — let the content sit for a day. I think too often people hit publish as soon as they drop in the final period, instead of giving the post some time to percolate. Great tips!

  5. Whenever I can I leave my work for a day to rest before I come back to it. Just this one simple act has helped my writing enormously. I also do as Jack Price noted above, and make PDFs which I then check again (and again (and again!))

    Whatever you find works, go with it (as long as its not illegal…!)

  6. Love the tips Stephanie! I was just about to revisit a blog post I wrote for my company, when I came across this article. I can now put this into practice. Thanks for the insights!

  7. Number 12 is very important. It is vital to line edit partly for SEO and partly because it is possible for a word to only make sense when you see it for the first time.

  8. Awesome; After a few years of half-heartedly thinking and occasionally doing content marketing (not all that well) I made the decision yesterday to do this thing properly. Starting soon (after I’ve properly looked at my niche and processed that myself.) I’m excited about becoming an authority, and incredibly grateful to Copyblogger.

    Now I see how all those posts that I wrote and then simply pressed ‘Publish’ straight away without giving a second thought didn’t really serve my desired audience at all. They were just me trying to find my blogging voice. And a product that I would eventually be leading my readers toward.

    Launching next February is my first children’s book (product) and my content will be about encouraging self-belief and personal power in children.

    Thank you so much for the post – it helped me to see how much can be gained by slowing down and doing things properly, instead of running with my initial burst of energy and usually having it fade away somewhere in my writing … but posting anyway.

    I’m excited – thank you also for providing a place for me to state my intentions … now that I’ve declared it in writing, I know I am so much more likely to succeed 😉

  9. hi Stefanie

    Editing has never been my advantage. At least not for blog comments. I feel like with these tips I’ve learned today, to take this game more seriously. Any writer should strive to make their writing better and more compelling, and editing is that part we cannot risk to overlook.

    Cheers!

  10. “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Basically it comes out to write at night and edit in the morning. You’ve got these tips down! Walking away from your writing is key not only to editing well, but also to keeping the creativity flowing. Sitting in front of the same post for hours can get frustrating and actually block creativity. Getting up and revisiting later is always a solid idea.

    Really nice work Stefanie!

    • Thanks, Eric!

      You’re definitely right—taking a break before you edit isn’t just about maximizing your chances of finding errors, it helps your ideas grow so you’re better positioned to communicate your message clearly.

  11. Hi Stefanie,

    Thanks for a great post! I also enjoyed reading the comments. Editing is often overlooked, which is a shame, because that’s how you turn milk into ice cream, or bland content into a piece of art 🙂

    There’s one tip I’d like to add: print your work and put it in front of you. I still do a lot of editing on the screen, but for some reason I find it easier to edit my work with a pen and a piece of paper in my hand. For my creating writing classes in college, I’d take out a pair scissors and cut my paragraphs and spread them out on the floor. I’d rearrange them in various ways to find new angles and to uncover pitfalls in the story. This made editing more fun and effective (not to mention it made me look like a crazy person).

    In short: create an analogue space for your writing and editing. Get away from the screen and get your hands dirty.

    Happy editing 🙂

    • That’s a great technique! Thanks for sharing, Olle! It helps overcome the attitude that writing is the “fun part” and editing is “boring.”

      Even though editing does require different skills than writing, I actually still consider editing a part of writing—not a completely different activity. Until you decide you have a final draft, each review of your text is an opportunity to use your creativity to make it better.

  12. Stefanie,

    As I was reading your excellent post I was nodding; “Oh, yes, editing I do that”

    But then a rather unpleasant feeling started – a mixture of shame and slight guilt. Followed by a voice “Oh, but you didn’t do ANY of this on those blog posts you bashed out in a hurry last week, did you?”

    *Gulp*

    Fortunately those posts are scheduled for next week. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the ‘kick up the proverbial’ to go and do a proper job 🙂

    Susie

  13. Stefanie,

    Hello, and thank you for your great blog post. You’re content is fresh, useful, and precisely edited. Your knowledge is appreciated. Writing is such a difficult task, and finding a concise list like this is extremely helpful.

    I like the idea of summarizing your goal because often the goal gets lost in the writing of the piece, as you are worried about getting your ideas down on the page. I had not come across the “Four U’s” of copywriting, and I find them very useful. If you keep these in mind as you’re writing a first draft, all the steps come along much easier. I like to spend time in the first steps of the process in order to save myself time in the latter stages.

    As you say, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and even bored with your own writing. It is important to break things up into individual sections, and to take time away from the project in order to view them more objectively. I find that nothing gives me more objectivity than time away from the article.

    I need to work on the editing skills you describe. They are time-consuming and tedious, but with out performing them diligently, your efforts in creating great content are wasted.

    I love this site because you always make the information useful to me in my own writing. I enjoy making new contacts and connections, and hope to get to know you through your blog. Feel free to connect with me. All kinds of opportunities open up when we collaborate and work together.

     Cheers,

    Darin

    • I’m glad you mentioned these copy editing tips are time-consuming, Darin. They are! But just as you explained, they help you create your best work. Polished writing looks effortless, but it takes a lot of time and patience.

  14. Time is a true luxury. I often have less than an hour to turn out topic specific content in my job. The best thing I do to is to read it word by word backwards(for typos) and then I’ll read out loud for weak spots.

    I picked up some new tips in this article that I’m sure will be keepers. It never occured to me to save the edited out bits! Thanks!

  15. Thank you for these fab tips! I love to let a blog draft mellow for days or weeks if I can. Sometimes I write and I’m not sure what the primary message will be, it’s just something I have to write. Eventually the message for the reader comes into focus and then I can sharpen it with more emphasis. Finally, I like to add tips for the reader in dealing with a dilemma I have discussed (if it makes sense for that post). Your editing tips are amazing and I’ve written them down (The U’s).

    • Editing is “just something I have to write”‘s best friend. 🙂

      You can get your ideas out of your mind and maintain an awareness that fine-tuning at a later time will make your message more robust.

  16. Incredible piece, Stefanie, and the post itself shows just how powerful these habits are.

    I live by aphorisms. Two of the most powerful, which I live and work by, every day, and which your post bring to mind:

    “There is no good writing, only good re-writing.” Hemingway

    “All writing is constant course correction.” Rick Duris

    Thanks, Stefanie; and thanks, Copyblogger, for the great people you put in my path.

    Terence

  17. These are useful tips to create an amazing work Stefanie!

    I think that you have utilized and incorporate the process very well. Aside from that taking one steps at a time and pursue it in a right kind of manner then you can generate a great piece of art in writing.

    Thanks for the helpful tips!

    I found and “kingged” this on the Internet marketing social site – Kingged.com

  18. Wow, what a treat!

    I had thought my editing process was pretty wonderful thus far, but I was wrong! The biggest takeaway for me is highlighting areas that are done to focus on weaker areas.

    This blog post is now a part of the required reading for new writers to my company. Thank you for the training material!

  19. Great post! 🙂 Editing is vital for a final text to be good. We started to do proof reading by default on all the work we send to clients. Not only do we get better texts but it’s also a great way of tapping into each others knowledge! Should be default everywhere…!

  20. Stephanie,

    I think I found a typo. It’s in the third paragraph…..JUST KIDDING!

    Terrific article. Thank you! I’ve forwarded it to my wife so she can make my posts shine.

    Trent

  21. Stephanie,

    I liked your ‘walk away from your post’ and will use it during my next post. I always write my posts and publish them in one sitting after checking for the typos and the flow. I guess I don’t enjoy the process of polishing it incrementally!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Badri

  22. Always print out your work, if possible.

    Editing and proofing [aloud] off paper captures more oversight than doing so on screen.

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