The following are 7 editing tips to tighten your copy:
- Cut long sentences in two. While they may grammatically correct, long sentences tend to contain two or more ideas. Limit each sentence to one idea.
- Keep to a single voice. It can be confusing to the reader start off a piece of writing using “I” then halfway through addressing the reader as “you”. Stick to “I” or “you” throughout.
- Focus on the positive. Quickly flip your script by explaining what something is rather than what it is not. For example, rather than saying what not to wear at a restaurant, rephrase it by describing what to wear instead.
- Keep it simple. Some people think that using big words make them look smart. In reality, it may intimidate the very readers you want to attract. Use small words that pack a punch. If you can’t think of one, your Thesaurus may just become your best friend.
- Nix “that”. In most cases, adding the word, “that” to your sentences has no value and only makes them longer.
- Stay active rather than passive (voice wise that is). While use of passive voice is not wrong, sentences in active voice tend to be more concise and more direct than those in passive voice. Further, fewer words are required to express action in active voice than in passive. For example, in passive voice you may say, “the bird was killed by the cat”. In active voice, suffice it to say, “the cat killed the bird.”
- Refer to people as “who”, not “that”. For example, “Mary is the elderly woman who speaks wisely” rather than “Mary is the elderly woman that speaks wisely.”