The Society of Professional Consultants

Helping Consultants Develop and Grow Their Businesses and Effectively Serve Their Clients

Effective Business Writing Tip 4: Edit, Edit, and Edit Again

Thursday, January 06, 2022 1:34 PM | Sophie Michals

Editing and Consistency Are Crucial to Good Writing

Anything you publish for your business is part of your brand image, and sloppy, inconsistent writing can diminish your brand and damage your credibility. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to carefully edit your writing so it reflects well on you and your business.

You should always self-edit to get your writing in the best shape possible. But you should also hire an editor who can bring a fresh perspective and ensure your writing fulfills its intended purpose and is clear and easy to understand.

Can’t I just use a writing assistant tool for that?

While writing assistant tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid are useful, they’re rigidly rules based and limited in what they can do. For instance, Grammarly will always flag passive voice as being wrong, even though it’s useful and often necessary, especially in technical and scientific writing.

These tools also cannot spot incorrect word use (e.g., complement instead of compliment) or catch when your headline is 11 Ways to Cook an Egg but your list contains only 10 items. They also can't point out that the first two paragraphs are not necessary or that the lede is buried down in paragraph five.

Similarly, these tools cannot read a piece of writing and determine whether it is clear, compelling, and relevant. While these tools are helpful, they cannot replace an experienced human editor.

Editing = Quality Control

Editing is a quality control measure that helps ensure a consistent brand experience for your customers. And there’s much more to editing than checking for proper spelling, grammar, and sentence mechanics. While those things are important, organization, structure, and a consistent brand voice are equally important.

Good business writing should have a clear purpose, make a clear point using specific information, and be logically structured and concise. The brand voice injects personality into the writing and is the key to holding the reader's attention — it’s also what makes your brand stand out.

Keep Track of Your Preferences

My best tip for keeping your writing consistent is to keep track of your writing preferences. Seemingly small things like using the phrases emergency room and emergency department interchangeably or formatting your phone number 555.555.5555 in some places and 555-555-5555 in others can make your writing look haphazard and unprofessional.

Keeping track of your writing preferences will simplify your writing process, reduce conflict over style and formatting preferences, and ensure a consistent brand experience for your customers.

Next month we'll discuss how to partner with a writer or editor.

Sophie Michals is a writer and editor who helps subject matter experts deliver clear, concise writing that showcases their expertise and resonates with their target audience. Learn more at (SM) Edits LLC.

Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications, a collaborative of writers and editors partnering with executives, consultants, and coaches to transform their ideas into published articles.

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