Once you are satisfied with your revisions, you are ready to edit. At this point, your focus becomes the correct application of the rules of grammar and punctuation. Begin with a clean copy of your last draft. Read through this draft and mark the necessary corrections in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
The editing process will go more quickly if you have a working knowledge of Proofreaders’ Marks also known as Editor’s Marks. These marks are applied during the editing and proofreading stages of developing an article. They are typically found in writing manuals, or you can look them up on the internet by completing a search using the keywords “proofreaders' marks.” When used well and consistently, the conventions of grammar and punctuation ensure that you are saying what you intend to say, the way you intend to say it. Invest the time and effort in making sure that both are well done in your article. By doing so, you insure the clarity of your article and thus, its accessibility to readers.
As you check your spelling, consider the variability of your word choices. Incorrectly spelled words and using the same words or repetitious phrases saps your credibility; it kills the flow of your writing. Being clear does not absolve you of making your writing readable. Consistency does not equal dull. Writing clear, readable prose is a dance which requires balance.
A multitude of reference books and writing guides stand ready to help you make your writing its best. Every writer needs at least one good dictionary, a solid thesaurus, and a writer’s guide which addresses questions of grammar, punctuation, style and tone. Two of the better known writing guides are the classic, Elements of Style by Strunk and White and On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Also, keep a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual on hand when writing articles.
As you progress through the revision and editing steps of the writing process, strive to trim your writing, so every word which remains performs well and significantly in your piece. As you review your work, check to be certain that all of your details speak to your topic or argument. Delete all superfluous observations and wording. You want your words to flow across the page like a small clipper not lumber along like a weighted ocean liner.
Ask your self these questions as you revise and edit: Are my sentences clear and balanced? Is any information I have chosen to include unnecessary? Does what I have written support my lead?
Next Week: Proofread
Elements of Style