The Best of Bart’s Editing Tips

I use a set of internal subroutines to improve the documents I’m asked to edit. Today I thought I’d share some of the “best of Bart” tips I’ve written over the years. Others undoubtedly exist, but these will do for now. If you are short on time, the first three posts include the most important things you can do to make your writing clearer, more readable, and more professional.

Document Trimming: Cramming Ten Pounds of Stuff into a Five-Pound Bag
This post concentrates on the techniques I use to condense content to meet a specific word or page count.

Grammar Pet Peeves
If nothing else, make certain you catch the common errors described in this post. The article also addresses some of my least-favorite stylistic choices.

Stupid Word Tricks
This post discusses some of the tools I use in Microsoft Word to make text behave the way I want it to on the screen or page.

When to Use Utilize
This is a standard find-and-replace change I make. I don’t use “utilize” in documents unless it’s included in an organizational report or process title.

To Ampersand or Not to Ampersand
I’m not much of a fan of the ampersand (&) except in a few select cases.

When Should You Use Words vs. Numerals?
Opinions on this subject vary. This is my standard.

The Rotten First Draft
So you’ve written a sloppy or ugly first draft. This is the case for everybody. This post discusses some specific things you can do to make your subsequent drafts less rotten.

Rereading Your Content
Rereading is a good practice regardless of what you’re writing. You’re not just reading to make certain your content reads correctly and well, you’re also making certain that changes made in one place don’t contradict changes made elsewhere in the document.

Parts of Speech in English
This isn’t really a post about editing so much as a discussion of how the various parts of the English language function and work together.

What to Look for When Editing Technical Material and
Editing for Scientists and Engineers
These tips apply to any technical field or content. You might be asked to edit something you know nothing about–the content and mechanics still need to be correct and consistent.

Making Technical Subjects Engaging for General Audiences and
Relating to Your Audience
These posts discuss style and word choice.

Happy editing!

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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