Our colleagues and customers count on us to work quickly.
- Fast response times help make us indispensable, impress sales prospects, and build customer satisfaction.
- Quick turn projects and software sprints help us get to market first and keep our customers invested in our brands, products, and services.
- Managing urgent/important projects and tasks helps us win trust and drive positive business outcomes.
Still, working quickly and efficiently must go hand in hand with high-quality communication. That’s why, no matter what you write and how quickly you’re compelled to hit SEND, you must self-edit.
Always. Be. Editing.
You don’t need to be a writer by trade or a professional editor to self-edit well. You don’t need to slow down to self-edit, either. All you need are a few tips to keep you focused on the most impactful elements in business writing and a few moments to put them into action.
Your self-editing checklist
Even if you’re sending a short reply to a co-worker or customer, there are a handful of essential self-editing techniques to keep in mind (beyond proper spelling and grammar).
✔ Eliminate fillers and redundant words
Business writing focuses on the essentials. Even when sharing details, it’s important to offer the details as succinctly as possible.
We studied the behavior of our key customer segments in order to make informed decisions about what product features we should prioritize next.
- The phrase “in order to” can always be simplified with “to.”
- Similarly, notice when you write “of.” Frequently, it signals an opportunity to simplify the sentence structure and tighten up meaning.
- Also, look for jargon and phrases that sound high-falutin’ and rewrite them with simpler language.
We studied our key customers’ behaviors to learn what product features to prioritize next.
Choosing simple words doesn’t make you sound like a simpleton. In the business community, it helps you build trust, demonstrate intelligence, and win credibility.
✔ Shorten long sentences
Long sentences can muddle your meaning, even when they’re grammatically correct. If you find a long sentence when self-editing, consider breaking it up into two or more sentences.
Muddled: I understand you’ve got a problem activating Feature A on our widget, but the feature isn’t available to you since you’re not a subscriber so, if you’d like, I can activate your subscription and then Feature A will be accessible to you right away.
Clear: I’m sorry you’re experiencing a problem. Feature A is only available to our paid subscribers, and our records show you haven’t yet upgraded to the paid subscription. I’m happy to help you with that. Would you like me to activate a paid subscription today?
Simpler sentence structure improves readability and allows your audience to digest your meaning quickly. Plus, it can keep readers engaged and moving through your message without missing a word.
What’s the difference between editing and proofreading?
Proofreading is limited to finding and fixing typographical mistakes like spelling, grammar, and hyperlink errors. Editing includes proofreading and expands to include opportunities to overcome communication barriers created by poor word choice, inappropriate tone, clarity issues, structural and formatting failures, more.
✔ Deliver in an appropriate, consistent tone
When self-editing, check your tone to ensure it’s appropriate for the message, the moment, and your audience. It’s also important to check your writing against your organization’s brand tones.
Impolite: Tell me if you can’t finish this assignment by the deadline.
Polite: Let me know if you can’t finish the assignment by the deadline.
Aggressive: I hate the way our current process is structured.
Direct: I’m concerned about the way our current process is structured.
Finally, check your message for tone consistency. Shifting tones can be confusing and disorienting for a reader. It may also undercut any trust you’ve built with your audience. For example, if your writing needs to be formal and instructional, consider saving any casual jokes for the voiceover. If your writing needs to be friendly and appreciative, self-edit to offer enough context that ensures your message isn’t perceived as curt or uncaring.
✔ Structure with Parallelism
Parallelism is when you use the same grammatical structure to communicate a series of related phrases or clauses.
Incorrect: When surveying employees, we found they value the opportunity to take time to volunteer, working remotely, and flex-time.
Correct: When surveying employees, we found they value paid time off for volunteer service, remote work, and flex-time.
Parallelism helps improve readability. It also helps you align key points and underscore the relationships between ideas. It allows you to emphasize takeaways and make your message memorable, too.
✔ Avoid Hedging
Hedging is language that conveys uncertainty, even though it tries to drive action or resolution.
Hedged: I think maybe we should try and get a better rate from the vendor.
Confident: Please work with the vendor to get a better rate.
In business writing, we might hedge to be deferential to a colleague or leader. We might also hedge so we can offer polite disagreement or criticism. Hedging can also feel like an escape hatch: If you turn out to be wrong, you can always walk it back because the message wasn’t direct.
However, the feeling of safety you get from hedging is only that, a feeling. Hedging undermines confidence in you and your message. You can overcome hedging and communicate more effectively when you give yourself permission to be direct.
How to Self-Edit with Speed and Confidence
When you choose Grammarly Business, you’ll never have to interrupt another co-worker and ask, “Hey, can you read this for me?” Grammarly Business serves as your real-time editing partner, saving you time and ensuring your communication is of the highest quality.
Even full-time writing and editing professionals turn to our enterprise-level writing assistant for seamless feedback and self-editing, saving as much as 66% of their time through automated self-editing. When it comes to business writing, you don’t have to trade speed for quality or consistency ever again.
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