Red Pen Rundown: How to Edit Your Copy
September 27, 2022
September 27, 2022
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With a final flourish of your fingers across your keyboard, you’ve done it. You’ve written that website content you’ve been putting off for weeks, batch-created your Instagram captions, or wrapped up your email automations.But what next? The bad news is, you’re not done yet. The (very) good news: your copy is about to get a whole lot better.Editing is an essential step in the copywriting process: it’s the difference between your audience sticking around to learn more or scrolling idly by. Website Planet reports that having a typo on your website landing page can increase your bounce rate by 85%, and grammar errors in a Google ad can result in 70% fewer clicks. We want our readers intrigued, engaged, and assured. The editing process makes sure we’re ticking all these boxes (and no, Grammarly doesn’t count).


Structural edit

Before you start editing, take a big ol’ step back. Have a cuppa, go for a walk, get a good night’s shut eye if you can. Even better, have someone else edit your work for you. When you’re close to your words, it’s tough to look at them objectively.The structural edit is “the big one”. Whether you’re writing a novel or an email update, this is where you look at how your ideas are structured and whether you’re communicating them in line with your brand identity.Check that your opening is engaging, and that the writing follows a logical sequence. If your ideas are jumping around like a kid on a sugar high, it’s time to strip them back to dot points and rebuild. Remember, this comes back to keeping the reader engaged – if it’s not simple to follow, they’re just going to keep on scrolling.Consider your specific word choices, too. Does the tone of voice fit your style guide?* What key words would you use to describe the writing? Does anything feel a bit out of place? Play around with the style of the piece until you feel it accurately captures both your message and your identity.

*If “tone of voice” and “style guide” are new to your vocab, drop by our emails for a chat.

Copy edit

Phew! Take a breath. You made it past the hardest part. Once again, spend some time away from your words if you can. Let them marinate before you cook them.It’s time to break it down line-by-line. You’ve reorganised your structure, and now we’re moving into the finer details. In the copy edit, we’re looking at the way sentences come together and correcting any errors or inconsistencies.Check that your word choices align with your style guide (think spelling differences like cooperation versus co-operation). Is your copy tight and hard-hitting? Can you remove redundant words without losing the flow of the piece?Hunt down typos. If this really isn’t your thing, you can use a program like Grammarly – but remember that there are lots of things Grammarly won’t pick up on, and it can make your writing sound unnatural.Once you’re confident with the words themselves, assess your formatting. Depending on the context, it’s usually best to separate text with lots of white space rather than writing great walls of words.With an empty coffee cup and a big fat tick on your to-do list, you’ve made it through your copy edit.


Woohoo! You’re almost there. Don’t lose steam now – you’ve arrived at the final checkpoint. I’m sure you know where this is going by now. Before you move on to the next stage: take. A. Break. It’s time to proofread, which is your last line of defence against typos and errors.Ensure consistency with punctuation – are you using the Oxford comma? How about single or double quotation marks? Look out for anything you may have missed in the structural edit and copy edit. If you’ve given the first two rounds the time and love they deserve, you shouldn’t find too many corrections here.If you’re working on longer-form copy like an eBook, check your table of contents is consistent with the actual content. Look out for anything you may have accidentally deleted; we can all get a little heavy-handed with the backspace key sometimes.Give your copy a final sweep with a magnifying glass and bam – you’re done.

Wrapping up

Right about now, your copy should be sharp as a papercut and riveting as the latest season of Stranger Things. It should accurately represent your brand and communicate exactly what you’re trying to say.Editing is time consuming. Like, really time consuming. And when your whole career isn’t dedicated to crafting words, it’s hard to keep a catalogue of all the rules, guidelines, and tricks to make your copy soar. A copywriter and editor can craft, curate, and correct all the little details for you. We’re always here if you’d like to chat.


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