As an editor, I receive countless requests to "edit" documents. Many people don't realize that editing occurs in two forms: content editing and line editing. Typically, the two types of editing should not be done at the same time. Content editing, more commonly known as revision, requires a type of review that is distinct from line editing, more commonly known as proofreading.
When revising, your goal should be to make the ideas presented in your writing stronger, clearer and more understandable. You want to ensure the points made are understood easily, supported well and organized logically.
While you can ask many questions when revising, I recommend that you begin with the four questions below:
1. What needs to be added?
What is not sufficiently developed, explained, supported, etc.?
2. What needs to be removed?
Where are ideas, concepts, information, principles, repeated? What does not belong?
3. What needs to be moved?
Where is a thought, idea, topic, etc. interrupted and need to be shifted elsewhere?
4. What needs to be substituted?
What word, phrase, sentence, paragraph is written too informally or not appropriate for this document?
Asking these four questions will strengthen the flow, organization and clarity of your writing.
Until next week's tip, happy writing!