Editing Tips for Non-Editors

You’re approaching the point where you need to send your case study off to the customer for review and approval. Before you do, however, you should try to minimize errors and make sure your content is coherent. Remember, your goal here is to make you and customer look good. If you sent them a document that’s riddled with spelling mistakes and is a rambling mess, you’ll fail on both counts.

The funny thing about writing, though, is that if you spend too long looking at something, it becomes harder to catch mistakes and make improvements. With that in mind, here are a few quick, simple editing tips:

Spell check. I know it’s old-fashioned, but spell check was created for just this purpose. You’d be amazed at how many people ignore the little red squiggles under misspelled words. Use it and correct the mistakes that it catches.

Read it out loud. When you think you’ve finished writing your case study, read it out loud. Don’t just skim and mumble through it, looking for typos. Read every word out loud at your regular pace, at your normal volume.

If something trips you up and you can’t get through it, that’s a red flag that you need to change that sentence or paragraph. If you stumble over something, so will your readers. Try to organize it a different way so it flows better, or try using simpler, more direct language if reorganization doesn’t make it sound smoother. Take this sentence, for example: “He maximized the impact that the solution was going to have on increasing revenue by utilizing the internal team of IT professionals to properly implement and optimize that solution.”

It is a long, rambling mouthful. Shorten it to something like this instead: “By relying on his expert in-house IT team for a fast, seamless implementation, he was able to maximize the impact of the solution and increase revenue.” This version communicates the same ideas, but is much smoother.

Get a second opinion. Have someone else read your case study to help ensure it makes sense. A colleague, friend, significant other; someone you trust to give you honest yet constructive feedback. Everyone needs an editor, as the old saying goes, even you.

If your test reader doesn’t understand something, it means you haven’t explained it clearly or concisely enough. Don’t talk it out and explain what you actually mean; go back and work that explanation into your case study. Then, let him or her review your changes to see if your edits did the trick.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good (and done). As soon as you hang up the phone after a case study interview, the clock is ticking. There’s no hard deadline, but realistically you only have a few months, at most, to produce a final case study. If you wait too long, the story will not only run the risk of becoming stale and dated, but your customer will probably be annoyed as well. They didn’t spend their valuable time talking to you just to have their case study disappear into some black hole of your creation.

Always strive for quality, but realize that perfection is impossible. A completed case study is far better than one that you have stuck in your head.

Want even more awesome editing tips? Check out DIY Case Studies: A Drop-Dead Simple Guide to Writing Killer Marketing Case Studies.

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