All writing needs editing, from novels to news stories and from biographies to blog posts.
Here is a short editing checklist to review before posting your next post.
- Leave yourself some time between writing the post and editing the draft. The distance helps you “see” things better.
- Read the post out loud, or have someone read it to you. How does the writing sound? If you or your reader stumbles, revisit the section and revise.
- Is the post relevant to your audience? If so, how? If not, consider revising the post.
- What is the post’s main idea? Can you state it in one sentence? Does the post state it in one sentence? If not, add one, particularly early in the post.
- Put the last paragraph at the beginning of the post. Does that put the main idea up front? If so, revise the post to reflect that change.
- Address your audience by using “you,” but be careful not to use “you” too much. Use the implied “you” when encouraging the audience to do something, just as this sentence does.
- Avoid overusing “I” as it can become a crutch for more concise and engaged writing. Save “I” for the most powerful or interesting statements in a post.
- Eliminate passive voice as much as possible. Passive voice includes verbs such as “is,” “was,” “are,” and “were.” Look for sentences that start with “It is,” “It was,” “There are,” or “There were” and revise:
- Sentence: There are six people on this train.
- Some improvement but still passive: Six people are on this train.
- Better, without passive voice: Six people ride this train.
- Remove adverbs, or words that describe verbs. Instead, use a stronger verb:
- Adverb: She ran quickly into the room.
- Stronger verb: She rushed into the room.
- Stronger verb: She raced into the room.
- Opt for shorter words over longer ones, particularly if you focus on blogging for communication.
- Be careful of humor, puns, and “cute” writing, not only in posts but especially in headlines. While some of your audience might “get” it, others in your audience might not.
- Remember that you are writing for scanners, not necessarily readers. Make sure most of your paragraphs are short, with 3-4 lines or 1-2 sentences. Some writers opt for even shorter paragraphs with 1-2 lines or 1 sentence.
- Use headers and bullet lists to organize text and aid scannability.
- Check for parallel construction, especially headers. Parallel construct means that words in a series follow the same pattern. See these headers for an example.
What are some of your editing tips? Feel free to share in the comments below.