Anybody involved in creating text-based content, from writing emails and blogs to the company newsletter or reports, will be using basic sub-editing skills. It’s an important task that doesn’t need to be daunting. Follow these sub-editing tips to improve your confidence and writing skills:
It might sound old-fashioned in the digital age but you need to be sharp-eyed and objective to sub edit effectively. Even short-form ad copy will look different on paper. That will help you to concentrate, especially, when you are very familiar with the content and more likely to miss mistakes.
Even when you have a tight deadline, always read the copy through. Make notes about things that don’t seem right to you. That includes any structural problems in longer content or a boring tag or headline that will help you get a sense of the scale of the subbing task ahead.
Create a list of questions that you may ask yourself about the content. It will give guidance on whether you are heading in the right direction or not. For example:
If it needs a lot of work, break down the task rather than trying to sort out all the problems at once. Deal with the big stuff first such as repetitions, unclear paragraphs, structural improvements, queries that require extra research. Then adjust the style and grammar.
It is the sub-editor’s job to question everything. You are the gatekeeper of quality. If something doesn’t sound right or clear, ask the author what they meant.
There’s no substitute for expert advice in this fast-moving area. Gain hands-on experience and learn the latest developments or considerations in the writing field because it’s essential to stay ahead of all the changes.
It’s important to preserve the voice of the writer, however, don’t get bogged down in rewriting large chunks. Focus instead on adjusting sentence length and active sentence structures.
If the copy is being published on the web and you want to get more traffic, you will need to research relevant keywords. If you are going for a more creative impact, you will need word combinations that challenge, intrigue and surprise your reader.
A confident sub-editor will keep track of shifts in acceptable grammar and punctuation. They will make sure that the new grammar standards are met and applied appropriately.
Try to concentrate on what sub-editing entails. Keep the proofreading task as a final series of checks but don’t disregard it.
If after these sub-editing tips you still want to learn more, try our two-day Sub-Editing Intro course. It will give you an eye for detail and the ability to work quickly under pressure while being taught by a writing expert.
by Cristina Moraru | 13 Jan 21
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