In order to communicate effectively and convey a professional image, your business must carefully edit every document produced. Professional business editors can help, as can in-house writing, editing, and grammar experts. With careful, detail-oriented editing, you can be sure your business conveys the right image in all your written documentation.
Finding a Business Editor
You have a variety of options for a business editor.
- Hire an editing firm.
- Retain an in-house editor/writer.
- Hire a freelance editing professional.
The type of editing services you select will depend on your firm's needs and budget. When hiring any of the above types of business editors, quality is your primary concern. A low-quality editor may miss errors, which can harm your company's reputation and hinder your communications.
Hiring an In-House or Freelance Editor
If you plan to hire an in-house or freelance editor, follow your company's normal hiring process. Interview editors, and require them to submit references and work samples. Require them to perform a sample editing task you can use to further evaluate the quality of their work.
Hiring an Editing Firm
Many firms offer professional editing services. The quality may vary, however, and your company can take precautions by asking for referrals and testimonials, as well as portfolios of existing work. Some professional editing companies to consider include:
You may also want to check with a professional organization, such as Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
Business Editing Tips
If you edit in-house, keep the following in mind.
As a rule, never send out the first draft of anything. Writing is a task you must not hurry. Mistakes creep in when you rush. Sending a quick draft without editing is often followed later by agonizing "Why didn't I change that?" realizations. Worse, bad copy can make you look unprofessional and sometimes downright stupid. So, how do you effectively edit your copy?
Editing Without Mercy
To properly handle business editing, read through your copy and eliminate all unnecessary words and repeated phrases. Be brutal and merciless. Chop long sentences into two or three counterparts. A short sentence communicates better than something that rambles on until the reader loses interest. If you've followed an informal outline, then you should have a logical flow from one point to another. If not, revise. If you have difficulty editing on-screen, print out a hard copy and read it. Sometimes reading the hard copy reveals overlooked errors you can quickly correct on-screen.
Read It Aloud
Once you're satisfied with organization, work on flow and tone. Read the work out loud. Your tongue will trip over awkward phrasings and stuffy, boring passages that need to be cut or reworked. When the copy reads smoothly and reflects the tone you want, you've succeeded. Avoid industry buzzwords unless you're writing to a co-worker who knows the lingo. Technical jargon is fine in limited amounts, but avoid overuse.
Spell Checker Red Flags
Once you've polished your copy, fine tune. Never trust your spell checker. Words acceptable to a PC program are not necessarily correct. Errant keystrokes sometimes add the wrong word spellings into your spell checker's database. Once your computer okays them, you may miss them but the reader most likely will not.
Try this trick. Print a hard copy, grab a ruler and check each line backwards. That's check, not read. When you read, your mind naturally puts words together into coherent thoughts. You stream through a sentence, often overlooking misspelled or unnecessary words. Checking each word from right to left on every line will help you to spot errors and also helps you think of better ways of stating your case. This method is a bit awkward at first and will require some training, since your mind will still tend to read instead of checking each word. Practice makes it easier.
Once you're done editing your work yourself, print out another hard copy and have someone you trust, not an employee or subordinate, give you honest criticism. It's better to have holes identified now and revise, then to have your reader spot them later.
Let It Rest
Once you've completed these steps, wait a day if you can. Overnight, your mind will continue to work on your writing, so when you come back to it the next morning, you'll see things that need changing and improvement. After a final editing, go ahead and send the communication.
The Importance of Editing
Thoroughly edited business communications are essential to projecting professionalism in your industry. Every communication should contain impeccable grammar, usage, spelling, and syntax to get your message across effectively every time.