It’s almost impossible to produce content that’s ready to publish on the first draft. Most successful writers will tell you that the real magic happens in the revision stage – where you dissect, scrutinize and rewrite content multiple times before you hit send.

Being the most crucial stage of the writing process, editing improves readability, comprehension and strengthens whatever message you’re trying to get across. This increases the likelihood that the content you produce will actually reach the goals set for it.

The Different Types of Editing

Editing is more than just checking for spelling and grammatical errors. The process can be split into four general categories: structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing and proofreading. Together, they work to improve the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.

When you finish your first draft and are ready to edit, keep these 25 tips in mind. If you do, you’ll see tighter copy that is easier to build off of and is more enjoyable to read.

Structural Editing Tips

Structural editing is about organization and making sure everything fits into place. These 7 tips will ensure that your ideas flow logically, your arguments are sound and your writing is easy-to-follow.

1. Use a consistent tone that addresses your target reader.

2. Address only one main idea in each paragraph.

3. Use subheadings to divide the content and guide readers along.

4. Use numbered lists or bullet points to make the content more scannable.

5. Make sure the order of information makes sense, without repeating ideas.

6. Ensure claims and arguments are supported by direct evidence and are clearly related to your topic.

7. Make sure there is a clear introduction, body and conclusion.

Stylistic Editing Tips

Stylistic or line editing focuses on sentences and paragraphs. You want to make sentences flow seamlessly in a voice readers can relate to.

8. Eliminate jargon and cliches; use the same language your audience would.

9. Fix awkward sentence structures, like double negatives.

10. Remove repetitive and redundant words and phrases.

11. Ensure transitions between sentences and paragraphs are smooth.

Copy Editing Tips

Copy editing involves looking at spelling, punctuation and grammar and ensuring the writing adheres to the style guide, if applicable. Copy editing is also an opportunity to flag inconsistencies, check facts and focus on readability.

12. Use grammar and spell-checking tools, but don’t rely on them.

13. Rework sentences to make them clearer and more concise.

14. Substitute weak words and phrases with powerful alternatives.

15. Fact-check your content and attribute sources.

16. Ensure elements like titles, proper nouns and company names are formatted correctly.

Proofreading Tips

This should be the last stage of the editing process, where you double-check the spelling and grammar and make sure the layout and formatting are consistent.

17. Check that all punctuation marks are in the correct place.

18. Use the correct spacing between sentences and paragraphs and a consistent font.

19. Make sure all subheadings are capitalized correctly.

20. Use tools like Grammarly to spot typos, but don’t depend on them entirely.

Tricks to Become a Better Editor

If you find yourself struggling to edit effectively, the following techniques should help:

21. Always leave your copy for at least a day. Some well-known authors hide their manuscripts away for months before starting the editing process. Ideally, you want to forget what you wrote and approach your writing from a clear perspective.

22. Read it out loud. Hearing your writing out load helps you identify clunky, awkward words or sentences. If it sounds wrong to you, it will probably sound wrong to your audience.

23. Read it backward. Going through content one sentence at a time backward can help you spot problems in the text, like sentence structure and repetition.

24. Change the font type, size or color. The visual difference helps you notice things you may have missed before.

25. Don’t try to do every type of editing at once, it’s better to focus on big picture, structural and stylistic editing before moving on to copy editing and proofreading, which should be saved for last.

Practice Makes Perfect

Good editing takes time and practice, but the end result is worth it. Effective editing is a skill that can make your first draft polished and will make a dramatic difference to the quality of your work. It’s like Truman Capote once said, “good writing is rewriting.”