Five Ways Editors Can Show You at Your Best

Dec 19, 2017

Posted by Barbara Wells

Sometimes rapid-fire communications seem to leave no time for editing, but simple proofreading is a poor substitute for a thorough edit. Do you know what an editor can do for you? Here are just the top five ways editors can make a profound difference in the quality of your work.

Remember your audience. Especially when you’re producing copy by committee, it’s easy to forget the people you’re talking to. What do they know? What have you told them before? Why should they care about what you’re saying now? A good editor always keeps the audience in mind, translating obscure jargon and connecting the dots between what you want to communicate and what your audience wants to know.

Find your voice. Most communications emanate from a particular person or organization that should have an established tone, style, and core messaging. Your editor can maintain a consistent voice to help shape an identity — one that your audience can recognize and remember — so every communication builds on the impact of the last.

Keep you honest. As copy evolves, facts and nuance can be lost, and spotting errors and distortion takes more than a spell check. Does that celebrity have 170 Twitter followers or 170 thousand? Is that quote really Shakespeare’s? Editors provide a safety net, using critical thinking skills to detect when something’s not quite right. They also know when copy strays from reflecting common knowledge to appropriating someone else’s ideas, violating the conventions of fair use.

Build your case. Editors have a cardinal rule: Don’t bury your lede. When writers open with a litany of details and build up to their point, editors reverse the order to make a cogent case, starting with the main idea and a rationale for the audience to read on. Even when the lede does appear upfront, editors can untangle supporting copy to create a more logical, persuasive flow. Very often it takes fresh eyes and lots of practice to organize copy in a coherent, persuasive way.

Tighten your belt. Your message may be smothered by excessive words, but an editor can remove and consolidate language to help the key points pop. Editors also cast an objective vote for keeping or cutting that little phrase you love, the one that may have made more sense in the first draft than it does in the last. It’s our job to help you let go.

Have you been thinking you can’t afford the time for editors to do their job? At Reingold, we know the returns far exceed the investment.

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