Questions to Ask While Editing Your Own Writing

By Christina Cornelius Monday, October 19, 2009

Entrepreneurs wear many hats, so they often write and edit their own business proposals, white papers and press releases. Below are some good questions to ask yourself as you review your own work. 

Editing Checklist

Approximately how many errors do you expect to find per page? (Knowing the density of errors common to the writer, even when you are the writer, makes you a better editor.)

Have you checked numbers, capitalization, names of people and organizations, hyphens, punctuation, often-confused-words and difficult-to-spell words?

Read your work aloud. It helps you catch errors that Spell Check and Grammar Check won't pick up, such as a correct word used incorrectly or the wrong version of a correctly spelled word used incorrectly. Have you reworked the sentences in the text that caused you to hesitate or stumble when reading aloud?

Is there any block of text that you can cut without sacrificing meaning? On the sentence level, are there words you can cut that do not add meaning? If you can communicate your idea in 15 words rather than 20, excise the superfluous words.

Are there blocks of text or sentences that would benefit from further explanation or clarification? If so, consider writing one additional sentence.

Are there words that lack precision, either because they are either too formal or too informal?

What sentence most succinctly captures the core of my message? Knowing the location of the heart of your meaning allows you to consider its placement.

Which sentence makes the best beginning? The best closing?

Are there any long sentences that would read better as two separate sentences?

Are there ideas expressed in several sentences that could be delivered in just one?

After you are done editing, proofread your work at least twice. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and words matter.


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