Even professional writers rarely create their best copy on the first or second draft. This is where editing becomes vital for producing great writing. The term editing refers to a wide range of practices, from restructuring whole documents to recasting sentences. That’s why I wrote this article sharing some simple and effective tips for the editing process.
The discerning taste of an onlooker
When you develop your content marketing strategy, you will have to assess your writing with the discerning approach. The problem is that you can’t become another person with an objective outlook just like that. At the same time, you can try to review each sentence you write like an outsider who can identify an issue without additional complications. This technique will let you organize all the parts of your paper, so you can concentrate on improving the weakest elements of your text.
How to edit your own paper
The use of the so-called Traffic Light Revision Technique (TLRT) is based on the concept of editing your own writing as soon as it has been completed. If it’s still a rough draft, you can apply this method to increase and reduce, copy edit, and complete the written content. If it’s a final draft, you can apply this method to proofread your paper.
If you put your writing in a word processor, you will be able to highlight the text with various colors, like a Microsoft Word document or Google Doc. You can make the process easier by following these five steps:
- Create a copy of the document. Add “TLRT1” to the file name when you save this copy. Now, you have the initial document and a version to be marked up first before you editing.
- When you examine each sentence, use green, yellow, or red colors for corrections. Apply green if the sentence doesn’t require any corrections and modifications. Apply yellow if the sentence might need some small changes for becoming stylistically stronger. Apply red if the sentence should be completely revised or removed from the general context.
- Create another copy of the document. Add “TLRT2” in the file name for saving this copy. The “TLRT2” version will be the file that requires some editing. Before you edit the paper and apply the colors, you will save the original marked-up “TLRT1” version for future reference. You can check the “TLRT1” version with the green, yellow, and red text in order to recognize your strong and weak points and weaknesses.
- Edit the yellow and red areas. You can also edit green areas to accommodate the modification you make in the red and yellow spots. You shouldn’t waste time constantly checking the green text you already view as solid content. As you revise the weaker parts, change yellow and red spots to green.
- Proofread each sentence from the beginning. When text is marked with a green, you need to read it from the beginning without changing anything. If you still think that some parts are to be changed, consider highlighting those parts in yellow or red. Make a pause and proceed with those areas later on. At some point, you might find yourself in trouble of identifying whether a sentence should be green, yellow, or red, ask yourself. If your sentence is vague or states that your reader knows something, you will most likely benefit from a revision.
Keep eyes on the road
While the above-mentioned advice won’t prevent you from making all the possible mistakes, it’s a way to edit your own writing by transforming limp language into crisp content. In a matter of time, it’ll become easier to review your drafts and structure your content accordingly.