The crucial role of editing and revising copy

Editing an English language document

  The golden rule that says to write is to rewrite is often overlooked. Writing copy is one thing, but to finish the job it will need to be completely reworked; it’s the most important part of the process.

So says author Andrew Kevin Walker, best known as the screenwriter of the US hit Seven (1995).

The fact is all professional writing requires this. From Shakespeare to JK Rowling, any high quality piece of writing would have gone through an invariably rigorous review and editing process.

Copy is checked for precision, clarity, conciseness, intelligibility, coherence and respect for rules of spelling and grammar.

A thorough review and editing process not only improves quality and readability, but also makes the end-product easier to monetise, with the opposite also holding true.

It’s actually impossible for a professional writer to produce content that won’t be improved with third party editing support.

Editing in action

The following bit of text illustrates this well. It’s the first paragraph of the introductory Editor’s Note of a published English-language architecture magazine. Unfortunately, it was neither written nor edited by native English speakers, leading to various errors.

   Going under (1)

Shovel to dirt (2), we head underground to dig up some of the latest innovations in subterranean construction. (3) We offer information (4) on The Lowline, an underground park set to open in N.Y.C. (5), and expand (6) on international (7) projects taking place in Pushing the Boundaries of Underground Construction.

The errors

  1. going under means to go bust.
  2. No need for all the references to digging, shovelling, dirt, etc … reader knows subject is about underground construction because headline says so.
  3. New paragraph needed for clarity.
  4. offer information is more appropriate for something a tourist office does.
  5. No need for full stops between N, Y, C … also reader will know that NYC is New York, the city, unless reference is made in copy to elsewhere in the state of New York.
  6. No need for expand — it’s obvious
  7. international implies a single project happening in more than one country.

   Going underground

Issue #19 sees us heading underground to report on some of the latest innovations in subterranean construction.

We cover The Lowline, an underground park set to open in New York, as well as other projects around the globe in Pushing the Boundaries of Underground Construction.