After they see Of Is and By copy edits and tracked changes, writers often ask, how do you do that? What is your thought process? That was a big challenge:  how to codify something that had been largely intuitive. So here — from Of Is and By: How to be a better writer overnight — is Chapter 4, “How to edit your own work.” #copywriting #humberpr



Stage One

Look for the words Of Is and By (obviously).

  • Can you use apostrophes instead of ‘of?’
  • Introduce a comma clause instead of ‘is?’
  • Are there passive voices where ‘by’ can be eliminated?
  • Are there word repeats? Even different forms of the same word or verb.
  • Can you find redundancies? Words like ‘brutal murder’ (all murders are brutal).



Stage Two

  • Is the sentence too long? Would a period between two parts help?
  • Are there throwaway clauses? Words that are necessary but only add a detail in addition to the main point?
  • Can you eliminate ‘to for and on?’
    • Discounts to Lululemon stores—Lululemon store discounts
    • The effect on the environment—environmental effect
    • Dependent on manufacturing—manufacturing dependent

Stage Three

  • Are the ‘it and they’ references correct?—institutions are it, people are they.
    • Do the words ‘located in’ or ‘headquartered in’ exist in the sentence?
    • The crisis in Washington—the Washington crisis
    • Headquarters in New York – New York headquarters

Is the meaning absolutely clear so that any reader will understand what you are saying?




Author: rotmanprwriter

PRWriter, Copy Doctor, Humber College PR and writing Prof

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s