Navel Gazing: How to Edit Yourself

Written by Heather Reimer

Writers aroundrepparttar world agree... it's nearly impossible to edit your own writing. We tend to fall in love with our wordsrepparttar 129607 moment they burst ontorepparttar 129608 screen and, as you know, love is blind.

Obviously a professional proofreader/copy editor isrepparttar 129609 ideal solution. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village of helpers to nurture a blockbuster likerepparttar 129610 one you're writing. But what if you can't afford it or you're under deadline pressure with no time for a second opinion? This is not a happy situation, but in a pinch you can edit your own material. Here's how:

-After you've finishedrepparttar 129611 piece and spell-checked it, give it a rest. Wait as long as you can -- sleep on it, if possible -- before coming back and proofing it for errors you missedrepparttar 129612 first time. Re- read it at least ten times. Then read it backwards, last sentence to first.

-Be ruthless. Whittle convoluted thoughts down intorepparttar 129613 fewest words without losingrepparttar 129614 meaning. For example, "She receivedrepparttar 129615 support of 21 senators among those senators who were present forrepparttar 129616 vote" becomes, "Twenty-one senators voted for her."

-Root out passive statements and flip them into active ones. Your Microsoft Word spell checker has a feature that will tell you how many passive sentences are in a document. It even tells you what grade level your piece is written for. Hint: Aim as low as possible - below grade eight if you can. (To activate this feature, checkrepparttar 129617 box beside "show readability statistics" onrepparttar 129618 Spelling and Grammar options page).

-One idea per sentence, please. You will immediately understand why when you readrepparttar 129619 following lead from a published news story:

"Carlos Manuel Geronimo Alfonseca, one ofrepparttar 129620 supposedly confessed authors ofrepparttar 129621 murder ofrepparttar 129622 Senator, told journalists atrepparttar 129623 New City courthouse when he was being taken back to his cell after being questioned by Judge Nelson Rodriguez onrepparttar 129624 day of his hearing that he was notrepparttar 129625 person who worerepparttar 129626 mask whenrepparttar 129627 Senator was killed." Come again?

** The Incredible, Edible Subhead **

Written by Alexandria K. Brown

Of course you're familiar with using *headlines* to call attention to Web copy, brochures, articles, or documents. But *subheads* can be just as effective in bringing out key points for your readers. And they also help make any document easier to read, because they break up long blocks of text into easy-to-digest bits. (Hence my "edible" title. Hmm.)

<< Subheads Break It Up >>

Subheads are generally viewed as goodwill gestures toward your readers, since they're most often used to divide lengthy articles into logical breaks. They may indicate a change of topic or simply break up a mass of type. Placing subheads every four paragraphs or so allows readers to skim through your article or document and skip sections without losing their train of thought.

The next time you flip through any magazine, notice how its editors use subheads throughoutrepparttar longer articles. Readers are very averse to reading large blocks of text, so subheads break it all up into bite-size chunks.

<< Subheads Have "Idea Power" >>

Because subheads catch readers' eyes, you should use them to your benefit! Read through your document or article for your main promotional points, then summarizerepparttar 129604 ideas as subheads. This way your readers absorb your main points in just a few seconds by skimming through allrepparttar 129605 copy.

For best results, subheads should *not* read like a table of contents. To make your subheads engaging, it's important to include action or selling elements.

BORING SUBHEADS: "Our Story," "50 Years inrepparttar 129606 Business," "Our Department's Success"

ENGAGING SUBHEADS: "Five Clients Who Saved $10K With Us," "The Most Creative Solutions inrepparttar 129607 Industry," "Let Us Do Allrepparttar 129608 Work for You!"

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