Top tips for copyediting

If you re editing someone else s work and they re a seasoned writer, you shouldn t run into these issues often if at all , but it s still a good idea to double check.

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10 copy editing tips you need to know

There’s a gap in the marketing industry today, and that gap lies in attention to detail in writing. The evolution of digital marketing has brought impressive innovation to the fields of web design and social media, but the importance of excellent writing to help your marketing efforts make an even greater impact gets overlooked too often. Copy editing can help fix this problem.

Your company needs clean, consistent marketing copy to build credibility and deliver your message in the most effective way possible. Poor formatting in your content, inconsistencies in your writing style, and grammar and spelling errors all distract and detract from your marketing goals.

In this guide to copy editing, we’ll help you get started by outlining 10 tips all content creators and business owners need to know.

Copy editing essentials

You need to know what to edit for before you can start the process. If your company doesn’t already have an editorial style guide, you can create a simple, two-page version to help ensure all of your content gets copy edited in a consistent way.

Your editorial style guide can be as basic or as robust as you want, but if your company doesn’t have a culture that’s focused on writing style and copy editing, we recommend keeping it simple so that people on your team actually use the document. Here are a few things to include:

Make your content about your audience, not about your business. When you’re copy editing, scan each piece of content for references like “us” and “we”, then turn the story around to focus on “you” — your prospect or customer.

Audience-centric content also includes language that educates your readers or helps them solve a problem. As you edit a piece of content, ask yourself if it delivers value.

You may be so close to your products and services that you unintentionally use jargon to talk about them, or you forget to explain concepts that seem simple to you. These are especially common issues when it comes to B2B content.

Your readers need to be able to understand your content for it to make an impact. When you’re copy editing, ensure every sentence reads clearly. It’s helpful to read content out loud so you can see how much it differs from the way you’d actually talk about a topic. A conversational tone is always best.

Help with copy editing is something that Scribe National can provide you with.

Which sentence is more powerful? You’re right on the money if you guessed the second one. Active language gets to the point immediately, pulling your reader into the story and keeping them engaged. These days, we’re all overloaded with marketing messages. Make yours stand out in the crowd by using compelling, active language.

Your prospects and customers are busy. They don’t have all day to read your content. When you’re copy editing, ask yourself if there’s a shorter, simpler way to get your point across. Do this for every sentence. Be ruthless.

Editing for brevity also helps you call attention to the most important parts of your content by trimming away superfluous language.

A guide to copy editing wouldn’t be complete without mentioning grammar and spelling. These technicalities are easy to miss, and they can throw a wrench in even the most interesting, rich story.

It’s helpful to use a cheat sheet to check your content for grammar and spelling errors. Grammarly offers a Grammar Tips guide that you can turn to for information. If your company is Canadian, the Canadian Press offers a useful Caps and Spelling book that highlights commonly misspelled words. In the U.S., check out the Associated Press to see what resources they offer.

When you’re copy editing, pay extra attention to things like apostrophe usage and spelling of their/there/they’re or your/you’re.

If you’re editing someone else’s work and they’re a seasoned writer, you shouldn’t run into these issues often (if at all), but it’s still a good idea to double check.

If you work for a large enterprise, fact checking may fall outside of your copy editing responsibilities. But more than likely, no one else will oversee this task.

Every organization handles fact checking differently. Writers should always ensure they’re using accurate research to inform their content, but it doesn’t hurt to take a second look at any statistics presented or claims made during the copy editing process. You might catch a stat that’s out-of-date and find an opportunity to use a more recent source to illustrate your point.

If you’re copy editing content that you’ve written, it’s crucial to get another person to look it over. They may spot an error that you missed, or have an idea for how to improve a sentence or paragraph.

If you’re copy editing someone else’s writing, your team has the right approach. Congrats!

Even if you’ve gotten another person to look over your content, and especially if you haven’t, always read the piece one final time before you click “publish.”

Making these 10 copy editing tips a regular part of your content creation process will improve your content drastically, and help you cut through the noise to earn your market’s attention.

Get help with copy editing

Many marketers are creative, effective strategists who don’t necessarily have a knack for writing or copy editing. Alternatively, if you’re a business owner whose background doesn’t include marketing or communications, you may also need help with copy editing.

At Scribe National, we’ll be your (eager) second set of eyes for voice, tone, flow, format, style, grammar and spelling. Contact us today to learn more about our copy editing services.

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Look out for tautology

Poor formatting in your content, inconsistencies in your writing style, and grammar and spelling errors all distract and de tract from your marketing goals. Copy editors are paid to find mistakes and inconsistencies, and cannot help being grammar police, comma kings or queens, quality control officers, and inconsistency police.

headlines They usually are based on the lede and contain active verbs. Always make sure the story supports the headline, and try to avoid:


What is Plagiarism

Citing sources proves that we are well informed about the topic and that our work can be trusted to be accurate.

Why Is It Important To Avoid Plagiarism In Academic Writing

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. Plagiarism is a type of intellectual theft.

Plagiarism can take many forms, from deliberate cheating to accidentally copying from a source without acknowledgement. Consequently, whenever you use the words or ideas of another person in your work, you must acknowledge where they came from.

Three steps to learning about plagiarism

It’s important to know what plagiarism is, and what form it takes (some common types of plagiarism are listed here). It’s also important to know how plagiarism happens. The final step is to develop effective academic skills. Many students who plagiarise do so unintentionally, often because they don’t have the academic skills to avoid over-reliance on the work of others or because they aren’t sure what constitutes plagiarism. So it’s important to take every opportunity to develop your academic skills.

On this site, there are resources on avoiding plagiarism and how to be organised, as well as a list of other resources and links so students can develop good academic practice.

Why do I need to know about plagiarism?

One of the contradictions of academic writing is that, while you are expected to research and refer to experts and authorities, you are also expected to produce original work. This is to ensure that you are very clear about your own ideas and about how the works of other scholars have influenced your understanding.

It is important to recognise that all scholarship involves understanding, researching and building on existing research to some degree. Undergraduates, for instance, often base their assignments on selecting, ordering, summarising and interpreting what others have said to support their own academic arguments. Therefore, it is important to learn how to reference well, that is, how to consciously and clearly acknowledge the sources you have used in your work so that your own contribution can be clearly identified and appreciated.

As part of an academic community, you are expected to abide by its ethical practices. It is partly this tradition of acknowledgement of sources, in the form of ‘in-text’ citation or footnotes, that separates academic writing from other forms of knowledge: it is part of the strength of academic research.

Why is it wrong to plagiarise?

  • Firstly, it is unethical because it is a form of theft. By taking the ideas and words of others and pretending they are your own, you are stealing someone else’s intellectual property.
  • Secondly, it is unethical because the plagiariser subsequently benefits from this theft.
  • Thirdly, a degree is evidence of its holder’s abilities and knowledge. If a student gains employment on the basis of a qualification they have not earned, they may be a risk to others.

No doubt some students do cheat. They deliberately take the results of other people’s hard work, use it to gain credit for themselves, and learn little or nothing in the process. But most cases of plagiarism are accidental and could be avoided if students became more conscious of their own writing and research practices. Most students who plagiarise do so unintentionally, usually because they don’t have the skills to avoid over-reliance on the work of others or because they aren’t sure what constitutes plagiarism. Both intentional AND unintentional plagiarism are violations of UNSW Plagiarism Policy (PDF)

What is contract cheating?

Contract cheating, or ‘ghostwriting’, is when a student engages another person to complete work for them, and then submits the work as their own, regardless if money was paid or not. Click here to learn more about contract cheating.

Advantages to Citing Sources

Procedures and methods sections of technical and scientific articles and laboratory reports provide readers with information sufficient to replicate both the method and data described in the document. Famous cases of plagiarism include the historian Stephen Ambrose accusations about six of his books have been made, most famously about The Wild Blue and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who ended up asking the publisher to destroy all unsold copies of The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.

In any event, even if the plagiarism is unintentional, the consequences can still be very painful.