Shows a person in the process of document editing.

Document Editing – Tips for More Effective Business Documents

You can spend hours on your business writing, but this investment of time will generate greater results if you take the next step: editing your business documents.

Document editing requires more than finding and correcting errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation.

The following tips will help you go beyond the basics when document editing.

1. Check for consistency when document editing.  This is especially important when the document has been written by several people. For example:

  • Do you write I.T. (information technology) or IT?
  • How should you express dates? Should it be June 1st 2012 or 1 June 2012?
  • Which variant do you use when words have two accepted spellings? For example, should your write programme or program?

Part of the document editing process should be to make spelling and style consistent throughout. It will help if your company has a style guide that includes preferred spellings and styles.

2. Simplify complicated language when document editing. Break long sentences down into several if possible. Use the simple words you can without changing the meaning. For example, change at the present time to now. For ideas on how write simply and clearly see previous editing blog posts in this section.

3. Check the headings when document editing to ensure it will be easy for readers to ‘navigate’. Make sure the headings styles are distinguishable and make sense. The main headings and sub-headings should be consistent throughout the document. Use different sizes and different fonts to differentiate the heading levels.

4.  Think about the structure when document editing. Do the ideas flow logically? If content is not in the right place, you might need to move it. This can include rearranging paragraphs, sections or entire chapters.

5. Do a final check of the basics — including spelling, grammar and punctuation — when document editing. Technically, this stage is called proofreading.

6. If collaborating with others when document editing, use the Track Changes function in Word. By doing this, writers working with you on the document will be able to see the changes made.

Follow these document editing steps to ensure that your business documents are as effective as possible.