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Letters to the Editor

by Randall Craig on November 24, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Blogging, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: ,

When you read a book or newspaper article, do you think that the writer got it “perfect” on the very first draft? Or do you think that an editor (or two) may have made a few changes, prior to publication? Yet when we write a memo, report, or presentation outline, we are so rushed that we write, send, and every so often, regret it.

For most people, editing is a skill learned in grade school, and rarely does the skill move beyond this level. Thankfully, with a few simple guidelines we can self-edit, and with practice, get many of the benefits of a professional editor. After you have completed your first draft, put it aside for a period of time, and then begin the editing process:

  • Edit for word choice and flow: have you chosen the most effective words, and do the sentences flow easily when spoken aloud?
  • Edit for facts: are you certain that your writing is factually correct? Are you correctly quoting (and attributing) others?
  • Edit from different perspectives: who are the different people (or groups) who will read what you write? How might they interpret what is written? (And is this the interpretation that you want?)
  • Edit for clarity: Watch out for jargon, wasteful words, and concepts that get in the way of your main idea.
  • Edit for logic and consistency: does what you say follow a logical flow, and is it internally consistent?
  • Edit for spelling and grammar: the spelling and grammar checker within your word-processor still can miss things: read your work thoroughly yourself. Double-check the spelling of any names.

Particularly for blog writers, the simplicity of posting ideas sometimes means that editing is conveniently forgotten. Unfortunately, when this happens, your poor communication skills are open for all to see, forever: your clients, colleagues, recruiters – everybody.

This week’s action item: Some editing is better than none. Improve the effectiveness of your writing – and others’ perceptions of you – by being an editor, not just a writer. At the minimum, review each of your emails and blog postings, before you press “send”; the more you edit, the quicker the editor you will become.

Bonus point: Did you catch the editing error in this post? (In the 4th bullet, after the colon, the word Watch is capitalized. For consistency, it shouldn’t be.)

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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