You can change the entire mood and tone of your content by just replacing a word here and strengthening a sentence there. Not only should words convey a clear, concise meaning, but they need to be simple enough that readers flow through your content quickly and easily. You don’t want readers stumbling over long, unfamiliar words they need a dictionary to understand.
Here’s how an editing tool like ProWritingAid can help skyrocket your content from ho-hum to stellar.
These are your high-level readability adjustments that make your content easily digestible:
Replace “business-speak.” Why say “your enterprise requires the equivalent level of productive turnout” when you can simply say “your company needs the same output”? Replace stuffy business phrasing like “his remarkable business achievements were many” with a simpler “he achieved his business goals.” It reframes the sentence into an active tone, giving energy to your words. An editing tool can highlight areas where you have too much corporate wording.
Alternate sentence lengths. Sentences that vary in length give a rhythm and flow to your content. Longer sentences can convey special meaning you want readers to focus on and consider. Shorter sentences move readers through quickly. Reading the same length sentences over and over leads to boredom. A good editing tool will show you a graph of your sentence lengths so you can make sure they offer enough variety.
Vary sentence beginnings. It’s also boring when you construct all of your sentences with “noun-verb-object.” To give your readers diversity, switch things up with “clause-noun-verb.” Avoid repeated sentence starts like, “The company achieved…”, “The company began…”, “The company consulted…”, etc. You may not notice you have three sentences in a row starting with the same wording, but an editing tool will.
Measure readability. Most word processing programs have a simple readability score, while an editing tool goes deeper into several readability indices. They’ll measure your text to see at what grade level a reader must be to understand what you’ve written. Shoot for something in the 6th to 8th grade level for the ultimate readability.
Look at pacing. How you construct your sentences and the words you choose will either slow your readers down or help them zip right along. Read your sentences aloud to make sure they flow at a faster clip, and watch out for long, drawn-out sentences. An editing tool will graph the pace of paragraphs to show you where you need to pick it up a little.
These are your intense, technical, word-level changes to make sure you’re saying what you mean. Consider the following:
Inconsistency. You want consistency in spelling, use of hyphenation, and capitalization. An editing tool will identify inconsistencies and can even point out spelling inconsistencies between UK English and U.S. English.
Clichés. Sometimes during drafting, a cliché will slip out because we don’t want to stop the flow of writing while we search for something better. When you use an editing tool, it highlights all clichés so you can replace them with something original and fresh.
Vague or abstract words. “Very” or “some” don’t tell your reader much, so they are not compelling. Use an editing tool to find your vague language and replace it with more specific and memorable words.
Sticky sentences. Sticky sentences contain too many common words that slow your reader down. “The company sought out the advice of an expert in consulting who could work on a new set of corporate guidelines that they would be able to send out soon.” That sentence is too full of glue words like “of,” “the,” “an,” “to,” etc., that need to be whittled down. Use your editing tool to help you tighten up sticky sentences.
Adverbs. Too often, copywriters use an adverb to prop up a weak word. “An easily understood design” sounds better as “A straightforward design.” Let your editing tool ferret out those adverbs and see if you can’t use a stronger word instead.
Passive verbs. Passive verbs do not make clear who’s performing the action of your sentence. While this can be handy for politicians who don’t want people to know what they’re doing, it’s very unclear in professional writing. Consider this sentence “The court case was highly protested.” Protested by whom? “The miners protested the court case” makes it clear who is doing the protesting. Passive verbs tend to slip in unnoticed by the writer, so a good editing tool comes in handy.
Repetition. It’s easy to use the same word or phrase over and over when you’re trying to drive home a point. A good editing tool will point out the fact that you have accidentally used a phrase like “based on our findings” seven times so you can mix up your language a bit more.
It’s surprisingly easy to find the above edits with editing software. The changes are small or subtle, but they will help your readers understand your ideas more easily. You’ll dramatically tighten and polish your content, and your clients and editors will thank you for it.
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