With my recent job promotion, I took on many new duties at our firm. One of those is editing. I am responsible for editing every piece of news or marketing collateral that our team produces – and let me tell you, our team produces a lot.
Through this new job function, I’ve learned a lot about how our team members write, the different nuances they use and how they each communicate differently. I have also learned that there are certain mistakes that everyone makes. This is why we have the editing function in our production process – so there is always a second eye (and sometimes a third eye) checking to make sure we’re producing the best work we can for our clients.
I understand that not everyone has access to an editor to review everything written before it’s turned in to a client (or a class, for that matter). However, I think that anyone could benefit from taking these steps to ensure any piece is client-ready, which will make any editor’s day.
Use Spell Check
This is such an easy step that so many people fail to take. Spell check is especially important for Excel documents that don’t always point out misspellings as you go. Also, spell check can be utilized for something as simple as email. Be sure you have an automatic spell check set to review your email after you hit send to catch any possible errors.
Don’t Rely Solely on Spell Check
Spell check isn’t going to catch everything, so be sure to read through your document carefully to make sure you aren’t using a word that, while spelled correctly, isn’t the word you meant to use.
Read Through a Document Three Times Before Sending
Read once for grammatical errors, a second time for message clarity and a final time to catch anything else you may have missed. As an editor, I follow all of these steps for editing team documents, but I can tell when the author did not. I may find that there aren’t any grammatical errors (so, step one was done), but there may be a sentence that is garbled or confusing, meaning they were probably reworking the sentence in different ways and didn’t delete portions of previous versions. Obviously, they didn’t review the document for message clarity before sending it for editing. Luckily, I did.
Keep an AP Stylebook On-Hand at all Times
AP Style is very important for us to follow at Obsidian because it is important to the end user – the media. We write client news and promotional materials in AP Style so that anything we distribute to the media can be used as is – without having to be re-edited. (We strive for ‘A’ ratings from newspaper editors, as well.) So, our team is well aware of most AP Style rules. However, there are always unique situations that require an expedition through the AP Stylebook or the website, to which we subscribe.
Research company and organization names to make sure that you are using the correct spelling of the entity’s formal business name. Google unfamiliar terms to make sure you are spelling them correctly and using them appropriately. Make sure you find a credible source, such as a national trade publication or Merriam-Webster online, to get this confirmation.