Five mistakes you’re probably making in your writing (and how professional copy-editing and proofreading services might help!)
When you’re involved in running a business or organisation, you’ve got a lot on your mind. From logistics to personnel management, to finances and accounting, you’re keeping a lot of plates spinning. Unless you’re, say, an author, the last thing you’re focused on is fine-tuning your writing skills. However, if you or your organization is producing any copy, whether it’s academic, corporate, general, journalistic, or technical, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, which can be daunting. If you’re doing all your own copy editing and proofreading and you’re not a trained writer it can be tricky to strike a balance between conveying your message and audience readability. Without professional copy-editing and proofreading services at your disposal, you’re likely making these five common mistakes:
Getting overly complex with vocabulary
When you’re a professional in your industry, it’s likely that you’ve subconsciously adopted industry-specific terms into your vocabulary without noticing. When it comes to presenting functional copy, ease of comprehension is key and using buzzwords, slang and jargon that only yourself and your colleagues understand immediately makes a new reader lose focus. Unfortunately, those words might be so ingrained in the way you express yourself that you don’t even realize they’re specialized! That’s where a second pair of eyes may help. A professional editor will dive into your messaging and clarify it for a less informed audience, while still maintaining the integrity of what you were trying to say about your subject matter.
You might be writing from the wrong perspective
You’re writing because you have something to say. The audience is reading because they have a particular thing they want to read about. It is imperative that you ensure that these two things align. Think about it like meeting an individual at a party who only wants to talk about himself and his achievements. You won’t carry on that conversation for long, right? Though you’re likely highly informed about the topic you’re writing about, going into minute detail about your subject matter doesn’t engage readers. Audiences want emotive, compelling content that describes how your offerings will benefit them, not just a laundry list of features. From an outside perspective, a professional copy-editor will be able to extrapolate your “audience benefits” from your “offering features” and help you communicate those in a way that resonates clearly. As an example, say your offering is a new type of healthy canned beverage. Rather than saying “0% carbohydrates, 2g sugar and organic flavouring,” a professional copy-editor will reframe that statement towards the customer’s benefit, writing “natural flavours and low-calories means every sip is as good for your body as it is delicious.”
Writing for unnecessary shock value or emotionality
Truly good books will take you on a roller-coaster of feelings. Writing can be deeply moving, and excellent copywriting will prompt action, influence behaviour, and lead to conversions. However, if you’re purposefully aiming to evoke emotions, it’s possible to take it too far and lose all audience trust in the process. While negative emotions – such as fear, uncertainty, and doubt – can cause powerful reactions, leveraging them in your writing to further your agenda will leave a sour taste in your audience’s mouth. For example, suppose you’re delivering a proposal on sustainability in a housing development. Though the consequences of climate change are certainly dire, framing your project through the perspective of “if you don’t choose solar, your grandchildren will face famine in their lifetime,” will do the opposite of endearing you to your audience. Even if you believe that to be 100% true. Even in the event you’re your subject matter is not particularly jolly, there are ways to frame hopeful emotive reactions out of almost any topic, and these are what you’re looking to elicit from your audience. If your goal is ongoing readership (which we think it should be) a professional copy-editor will collaborate with you on choosing and expressing emotions that leave your audience feeling good about what they just read.
Overusing the ‘passive voice’ instead of the ‘active voice’
The ‘passive voice’ is defined by Oxford languages as “a form or set of forms of a verb in which the subject undergoes the action of the verb.” In easier-to-understand language, the ‘passive voice’ of a sentence would be “my copy was written,” whereas the ‘active voice’ would be “I wrote my copy.” When one writes a sentence in the active voice, it generally comes across as direct, actionable, energetic, and clear, whereas the passive voice can sound sluggish. The ‘passive voice’ also negatively affects reader comprehension in many cases. Though there are some sentences in which using the ‘passive voice’ is unavoidable, if the form makes up the majority of your copy, the writing becomes overly formal and challenging to read. It can be tricky to pick out the overuse of the ‘passive voice’ if you’re not trained to do so, but a professional editor will be able to spot and rectify the issue swiftly.
Getting too heavy-handed with SEO
Keywords are important. Especially now that the vast majority of long-form writing everyone consumes is digital, it’s imperative to include SEO keywords in your copy for your audience to actually find it when they search for it. What’s crucial, though, is that your writing strikes a good balance somewhere between “no SEO keywords at all” and “literally just a list of keywords on a webpage.” We know you’re eager to get your content seen, but when it becomes so packed with keywords and SEO phrases that it's unpleasant to read or incomprehensible, the content becomes useless to you. If your audience gives up reading after the second sentence because the syntax is so clumsily overstuffed with extra words, you’re not effectively leading to any action, which is why you created that content in the first place. Search engines have gotten smarter, too, so you don’t need to hit every keyword to rank high in search results, just the relevant ones in the right places. If you’re unsure how to strike that balance, copy editing and proofreading professionals trained in SEO can help you hit that sweet spot.
Where can I find editing and proofreading professionals?
Luckily for you, you’re in the right place already. Here at DMME, we’re passionate about everything concerning writing and languages. We’d be excited to collaborate with you on your next writing project, offering our professional copy-editing and proofreading services. Alongside all of those outlined above, these services include:
- Correcting your grammar and punctuation.
- Ensuring that your spelling and usage of common words are correct.
- Checking that your illustrations, tables, and captions are correctly presented.
- Ensuring the format of the document is consistent and comprehensive throughout.
- Confirming that page numbers are in consecutive order, and that chapter headings and page numbers correctly match the table contents and indices.
- Editing the document where necessary to convey an impactful message.
- As an additional, optional service we offer fact-checking, so you’re always in the clear.
If you’re interested in fine-tuning your copy for maximum effect, contact us today to set up a consultation.