How to ensure your content is top-notch

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In Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Ann Handley urges readers to “Hire a Great Editor” (chapter 24). Handley divides editors into three categories: copyeditors and proofreaders; substantive editors; and line editors. Handley believes that good line editors are the hardest of the three types to find.

If you’re not already familiar with the idea of line editing—it’s a term that’s mostly used in formal publication circles—it’s the intense editing that goes on at the sentence and paragraph levels. It involves

  • Correcting grammar (which covers much more than you might think)
  • Selecting just the right words for the purpose
  • Tweaking sentences and paragraphs until the flow is just right

Line editing often involves deleting text that’s obscuring your message. This is particularly important for web text, which is usually read quickly.

More on line editing and why it’s important

If you’re interested in learning more about line editing and what it involves, consider reading Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do (third edition), which has two chapters devoted to this level of editing.

One chapter, by Maron Waxman, divides the chief concerns of line editors into 4 key categories: Clarity (ensuring that the purpose and meaning of the writing is clear); Coverage (ensuring that sufficient information is given); Organization (ensuring that the argument or instructions can be easily followed); and Tone (addressing the right audience with the right language).

Waxman makes an important point—that good editing is much more than cleaning up the typos. It’s everything that must happen to ensure your message is understood.

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