Editing at work — I

by 21cstories

My routine work involves editing and improving content meant to be uploaded on websites. The importance of the text often determines how well it is edited. This article tries to describe some of the things I look out for while doing simple editing.

Editing a report or feature ranges from minor style alterations to major improvements in structure and re-phrasing of text. I routinely take care of the following simple editing aspects:

Style
This deals with how capitalisation is used (company or Company), money is expressed (USD or $, per cent or %), abbreviations (eg or e.g.), general formatting issues, etc.

Spelling, punctuation, grammar
Known to all. The most basic of editing requirements.

Structure
The important matter is put up in the first half — the what-when-where-who details. Quotes, future predictions and other details are pushed down. This saves on reading time of readers.

Economy of expression
Probably the most important thing to look out for in any given text. Brevity is the essence of good writing, whether prose or verse. Repetition, redundancy, superfluity are all to be deleted from the text, like weed from a garden. Editing revolves around economising on words and expressions to create text that makes the right impression, and conveys just the right meaning.

Finally, the text should sound like a rounded whole, with a proper beginning, body, and conclusion all interconnected in various ways.

In the end, it is basically how one treats a given subject matter that determines what kind of expressions and structure would be used. The text should be easy to read and follow for a lay person (no cluttering of information), and interesting to those with more knowledge of the subject (giving specifics and details at appropriate places).

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