19 December 2017

Tricks of the Trade for Tighter Copy: Part 2

Even seasoned writers need editors to hone their copy. If you’re tasked with writing your communications and don’t have an editor on staff, you’ll need to self-edit. So grab your red pen and apply these tricks of the trade to your writing.

Avoid using thing
You have a wealth of words at your disposal. Always choose a descriptive word and avoid using thing altogether. There are so many ideas you don’t understand. NOT: There are so many things you don’t understand.

Refer to people as who not that
This is a common mistake. When referring to people, always use who, not that: People who travel have a stronger worldview. NOT: People that travel have a stronger worldview.

Eliminate that
In 95% of your writing, you don’t need to use that to make your writing clearer. Jessa decided going on vacation would have to wait. NOT: Jessa decided that going on vacation would have to wait.

Check your commas with which and that
|When using which, place a comma before it. Don’t use a comma before that. We went to the store that opened last week. OR: We went to the store, which opened last week.

Check your hyphens
Here’s the rule: use a hyphen whenever you modify a noun with more than one word: full-time employees, dollar-for-dollar contribution, brand-new employeeNOT: full time, dollar for dollar, brand new.

Exception to the rule: –ly words aren’t hyphenated (newly hired employee).

For more tips, read Tricks of the Trade: Part 1.