Effective texts convey your message successfully – and reach your target audience. However, accomplishing this is not so simple. You need to ensure the top quality of your text on every level. Having your text edited before publishing makes sure that it is free of errors, uses the most appropriate style with an appealing format – and achieves the desired effect.
How to edit a text?
Editing is a way of improving your text. The editor is usually the first person to read a newly written text. The goal is to optimise various aspects of the text’s quality for future readers. In general, editing is always followed by proofreading. As described in our blog post “Editing and proofreading – what is the difference?”, the proofreading step checks strictly linguistic aspects such as spelling, punctuation and grammar. An editor, however, also revises a number of other textual levels:
- Style: linguistic expression
- Text structure: central theme, thematic structuring, logic, coherence
- Correct writing style for the type of text: the text type determines its style and structure, among other things
- Target-group orientation: addressee-appropriate wording
- Readability: easy to read, provides motivation to continue reading
- Comprehensibility: message communicated successfully
- Consistency: e.g. terminology, gender-neutral terms, bullet points
- Layout: formal structure, which also enhances comprehensibility
The personal preferences of the editor do not come into play when checking any of these areas. Rather, the sole focus is on optimising the text, its quality and how it communicates its message to the target group. Obviously, the communication channel being utilised must also be taken into account because reading habits vary immensely depending on the medium. Whether it’s for a website, newsletter, print magazine or mobile app, the content must be tailored to the corresponding channel. All right, so now we know which levels to work on, but what does editing actually look like?
How does a professional editor do their job?
Each individual editor develops their own method that works best for them. As a language services provider with many years of experience, we can recommend the following proven approach:
- Editing: two read-throughs checking content and structure (digitally and/or on paper)
- Proofreading: one read-through looking at spelling, punctuation and grammar
- Final check: includes a review of the layout
One key rule which always applies is that the changes made by the editor must be verifiable (e.g. using track changes). The extent of the editing, i.e. whether technical language, appendices or a list of sources also need to be edited, can be agreed in advance during a meeting with the client.
And of course, a professional editor always works exclusively in their mother tongue. In addition to linguistic expertise and stylistic confidence, an editor must also have an intuitive feeling for language. This means being able to identify passages in a text that require a closer revision or restructuring, both in terms of the text’s communicative function and its message. It is important that an editor have the opportunity to ask the author about any points that are unclear.
What is the final result of a thorough editing process?
In a nutshell: an easy-to-understand text that conveys your message with the right style and format. This also means that it is reader-friendly, clearly structured and adapted to your target group. Fine-tuning all of these aspects is a challenge, but the focus always depends on the type of text. For example, there are editing services specifically for marketing texts, scientific texts, newsletters, and so on.
As a rule, excellent texts stand out thanks to the following features:
- Less is more: one theme per paragraph and one thought per sentence
- Clarity: logical structure that aids comprehension
- Essence: concise and with no superfluous parts (such as repetitions or filler words)
- Dynamic: active formulations and verbs instead of nouns
- Concrete, creative formulations: no abstract or stale sayings/metaphors
When is it worthwhile to use professional editing services?
It’s always helpful to have an expert check and optimise a text you have written yourself – mainly because an editor will look at your text from a different perspective, and they possess a specific level of expertise.
After all, editing covers more than just linguistic aspects. It focuses above all on quality assurance and ensures that your message is understood correctly. Producing a solid, effective text takes time, but tight deadlines are common these days, making it easy for mistakes creep in. Time pressure can also affect your text’s comprehensibility if, for example, the right term doesn’t immediately come to mind while writing. And this is precisely where our professional editors can lend a hand – so that your message always comes across loud and clear.
We hope this guide has given you a clearer picture of the editing process and will provide a useful framework for evaluating the proper way for texts to be edited.