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
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?