Close
Close

Four Professional Editing Techniques that Boost Post Value

Putting aside grammar, spell-checking, and similar post QA techniques, editors commonly rely on a suite of tactics to help boost the communications value of content. They’re easy to apply, and don’t take a whole lot of expertise or time. Perhaps you can (or do?) use them to hone your posts.

1. Moving the key point to the opening

My dictionary

Often, we can get carried away setting the scene for a post—so carried away, in fact, that we neglect to tell readers what it is that they’ll get if they keep reading.

If they don’t know where the post is heading, readers aren’t likely to put in the hard yards to complete the journey. Often, we’ll make that point further into the post, after we’ve set the scene. I usually find that moving that key point up so it’s part of the opening paragraph doesn’t harm the flow of the scene-setting in the least, yet it has big benefits in terms of setting reader expectations.

It’s a small change, but it can make a big difference, as it promises readers a real deliverable.

2. Making the content answer the title

If the post’s title is “Five Tips for Blog Productivity”, I’ll want the sub-headings to be numbered one through five. Similarly, if the post title mentions pros and cons, I’ll ensure that both pros and cons are clearly mentioned and identified within the body, and that they’re called pros and cons, not advantages and disadvantages.

Whatever your title, the content should answer it, clearly delivering what it promises. Even these seemingly prosaic alterations can help readers to feel satisfied that the post delivered on the promise in its title.

3. Adding sentences that tie the content back to the theme or point

Sometimes, we’ll start making a point under a subheading and, having made it, simply move on to the next subheading or section. But on reading—particularly if the article is long, makes many points, or presents complex information—the critical information you’re presenting in each section can be lost to the reader. After all, they’re trying to take a lot in at once!

Often, adding a concise summarizing sentence that reiterates the key point of the section, and explains how it relates to the overall theme of the post, clarifies meaning, aids comprehension, and reinforces to readers that you gave them what they expected.

4. Adding links, references, and supporting material

If the post mentions a book, website, or person, I’ll try to find links that interested readers can follow for more information. Again, this is about delivering on your promises, but external links are also a good way to build your credibility and your reputation as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

The more information you provide to readers, the more respect they’ll have for you as the go-to person in your niche. Links and supporting material matter.

I use these four editing techniques constantly to hone content. What tricks do you use to make a big difference, quickly, to your posts’ value?

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Vivek Barun says:

    Moving the key point to the opening is crucial specially for new visitors of your blog.
    And as far as providing relevant links in the post goes, it will make us as credible as it will give the reader some more material on the topic and will appreaciate the hardwork you have put to give some useful information which the reader can actually use and explore.
    Nice tips.. Thanks

  2. Yes, justifying the title with the content is pretty important. Quite a valid point.

    • dotCOMreport says:

      A simple enough thing to do – tying the title to the content – yet so many miss it.

      I went away with a things or two from this post; thanks Georgina.

    • dinesh says:

      A simple enough thing to do – tying the title to the content – yet so many miss it.

      I went away with a things or two from this post; thanks Georgina.
      Yes, justifying the title with the content is pretty important. Quite a valid point.

    • GolfGurl says:

      All good points. The title is the promise for the content in the post… and the content should always deliver on the promise. People seldom read the entire post… most of the time, they scan. Helping the scanning process is always a big plus. Adding bullet points or highlighting text point by point adds value and a summation is an effective way to deliver on the promise as well.

  3. Monica says:

    Photos whenever possible. Nothing like a photo to start off a blog post!

  4. Tornado says:

    Adding links also improves you SEO.

  5. Tornado says:

    Adding links also improves your SEO.

  6. Excellent points. I have four that the question title and immediate answer formula works amazingly well because of today’s style web sufers

  7. My tip for structuring your article:

    Say what you are going to say.
    Say it.
    Summarise what you have just said.

    Simple, but easy to forget.

    • Lisa says:

      I love it! Simple and right to the point. It couldn’t be explained in any better way, ray….I rhymed there, did you get that?

  8. Brandon Cox says:

    When I was in college, we learned how to prepare sermons. The two biggest requirements were that 1.) you opened with a powerful proposition and 2.) everything else supported that proposition, never wandering away from it. Guys who got red marks on their sermons were guys who strayed from the proposition.

    You’re spot on and I love your point!

  9. illz says:

    Many blogs use the “Pro Con” or list method, because of that my eyes automatically to skip the first 2 paragraphs and go straight to the sub-headings. I do this because my RSS feed has around 200 items, and I skim the intros and go straight to the point in reading.

    Anybody else do this? Most intros seem meaningless and I shave 3 seconds in reading.

  10. Thanks, Great Info,

    Moving the Key Point to the Opening definitely makes sense, looks a little like a ‘Lead’ in a News Paper being the ‘Shopwindow’ that shows a little of what’s inside. ‘Especially nowaday’s people don’t seem to have very large Attention Spans’.

    For – Fictional Writing – people might want to make an exception, than you sometimes might want to deliberately keep your readers in the dark, to boost their attention, to involve them and make them wonder what will come next. A lot of James Bond Movies usually seem to Start with ‘Action and Explain Later’, from the start making you wonder what it’s all about. Than the delay can actually
    be a Big Strength.

    ‘What Tricks I use to make
    a Big Difference to my Posts Value?’

    I am not really sure if my approach isn’t more a Writing Style, than an actual Editing Technique
    possibly it’s more a lack of Editing Technique :)

    Anyway,

    One of the things I am experimenting with nowaday’s is to write my Posts as I would express my thoughts when I would be talking to somebody in a Conversation. (More like a Story.) Next step is to think of attention grabbing sub-headings to encourage people to read on, and constantly
    make them wonder:

    ‘What Comes Next…?’

    Talking about ‘What Comes Next…?’ besides a Home Business Lifestyle Blog I also have – amung other things – a Writing Lifestyle Blog, with more info about Writing
    with all kinds of ‘Links and Supporting Material’.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Blogging – Inspiration,
    HP

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Blogging – Inspiration,
    HP

  11. Awesome tips!

    I completely agree with the fact that it is easy to sway from the original point of the article, or to delay getting to it. I have found myself doing this and ended up changing the title of the article after being 3 paragraphs into another topic.

    Adding links, references, and supporting material is something I have to work on though!

    Thank you,
    Gabriel Johansson

  12. Good tips. Only you forgot to number your points, as you suggested doing in point # 2!! :-)

    One other tip I’ll add is: Be sure to have sentences that are an average of 14-18 words long. This DRAMATICALLY improves readability. Most software will give you this number (use “readability stats” in MS Word.)

    NB: Don’t try to write every sentence at 14-18 words. You want a mix of sentence lengths — some longer, some much shorter (1-5 words). It’s just that the average should be 14-18 words. Your piece, above, is 22 words per sentence, which is just a little bit long.

  13. Hi Georgina,
    I do tend to wander off topic sometimes, it’s a bad habit I need to get out of.
    I think it is very important to have your key point in the first paragraph, many blogs now just show an excerpt of the post (as problogger does) so it could be confusing if the title doesn’t match the text.
    Really useful tips here.
    Thanks
    Pete

    • Kiran says:

      I agree. Though mine is a personal blog, I tend to slip out of the topic once in a while. Focus is key.

  14. Jhay says:

    Moving the key point to the opening paragraph is for news items, my editors would always tell me. But since I’ve spent most of my writing stint in the opinion and features section, ending my piece with the key point and conclusion has been a second-nature to me.

    But of course it’s nice to change things up once in a while.

  15. Joanna says:

    I have a habit of trying to build interest in my longer posts over time. I’ve neen too afraid of losing readers too early or coming over too blunt and direct. But you are convincing me to give it a try.

    Thanks

  16. Brad Dalton says:

    I try to use keywords as the anchor text for both internal and external links

  17. Arnout says:

    Why aren’t the headings in this post numbered 1 to 4? (as suggested in the second editing tip…)
    #practicewhatyoupreach
    ;-)

    • Georgina Laidlaw says:

      They are now Arnout! The unspoken tip 5 is definitely something about how hard it is to edit your own work ;)

  18. Such a Noob says:

    Is the last point (Adding links, references, etc.) still valid if you’re targeting youngish, click-happy readers with mostly fun content? One click and they’re out :-(

    Or should we set the external links to open in new tabs/windows every time?

  19. I know I get off topic easily-

    Usually as I’m writing a post, new ideas pop into my head….now I need to remember to pop those ideas into a new post…

    Great ideas- thanks!

    Have a lovely upcoming week!

  20. Josh Hughes says:

    Good post – It made me think about how websites/magazines/etc will publish top ten articles. You can add the content to validate yourself, but if there isn’t a 1-10 in there, I don’t want to read it, plain and simple.

  21. Eugene Erwin says:

    It seems to me this same point is true for article marketing and even squidoo lenses as well as blogging.

  22. Good Post..!!
    I will definitely try some of your tips for my blog..!!!

  23. Jon Sollie says:

    A great post for rookies (and vets) to print out and keep as a
    handy reference until firmly grasped :-)!

  24. “Adding links, references, and supporting material”
    I completely agree that doing this is helpful and adds greatly to one’s credibility. It isn’t done nearly enough.

  25. Great points.

    I think its helpfull to highlight quotes if the post is build up around somthing someone said, with af special typing or textbox. Most wp templates have got a standart.

    If you build the post up around a few steps or points it will really help readers, if the key points are highlighted.

  26. Irshad says:

    I have always found problogger content very much focused. “Making the content answer the title” I always try to keep this line in my mind when every i write any article for my blog. So always try to focus and keep your article close tot the topic.

  27. In newpaper reporting, leading with the most important news is called the “hook” for the story. It’s also called the Inverted Pyramid style — leading with your key message (or hook), then supporting data or evidence, and lastly, lesser details that support the story line. In blog writing, though, you may want to come full circle and punctuate your key point at the end with a call to action — to comment, to visit another site for more information, or to summarize key points made in your blog.

    But it’s important not to get caught up in a formula. Some blogs are meant to educate, and others to entertain to make your point. Try standing the formula of leading with the key message on its head. You might lead with a question, or tell a story that gradually sucks the reader in until you’re ready to spring a surprise — your key message. All the rules have changed. But nothing beats just plain good writing.

  28. Seba says:

    Very good all you say. I totally agree in each point. I write mi posts in similar way.(But in spanish so sorry for mi bad english)

    I have few things that I always do, and experience tells me that first paragraph is the most important one. A good first paragraph is basic so the reader goes ahead with the rest of the post.

    I also write thinking that I always have to answer the “5 W” were, why,when,who and what. And when you finish with the “5 W” you already got like 200 – 300 words and you start thinking in how to finish it.

    Great post ! congrats.

  29. You can also outline your posts with these techniques before you add supporting details. No need to wait until you’re done writing.

    Content, no matter how valuable, will not get proper recognition if a post isn’t structured to benefit the reader.

    Make your ideas explicit and concise.

  30. The first technique is a standard journalistic practice, it’s called nutgraph. News is written this way to tell the reader what the news is, than provide supporting information, quotes, etc. It’s a good way to draw people in.

  31. Georgina, I love that you followed your own advice in the post. I’m nit-picky about details like this. Makes me nutty when you can’t get the content you are promised in the title — or it’s hard to find.

    Thanks.

  32. Great points Georgina. I especially think the thing about starting off with your main point is important. This might be included under a more general “tip”, viz., “Get to the point”. You could add to this that you should make your first sentence punchy and specific because in many cases it is used as an “excerpt” – in Google SERPS, RSS feeds, tweets, etc.

    I’m not so sure about the importance of strictly echoing your title. This makes for exceedingly unimaginative titles. I know the number thing is thought to be important. I’m not sure why. Is it because we assume internet readers are hungry for tips, points, facts and are not able to take in more complex ideas? Everyone assumes there has been research done on this, but has it?

    In any case, I notice you have not numbered your own points, as you suggest we should. :)

  33. Excellent set of clear, concise points. Definitely will “save” and implement implement implement! Thank you, as always, Georgina!