Many organisations and consultants have never thought about using an editor for their work. They think of an editor as someone who works with journalists or books, and don’t necessarily think of all the excellent reasons why an editor could provide you with important assistance.
Here are five reasons you might want to consider an editor:
1. So that people can read your work
In some sectors, the reader of a report really just needs the facts, figures and technical specifications. They’ll probably skim the text to get to the parts most necessary for their work. But for most organisations and individuals, accessibility is key – and if it isn’t, it should be.
Why write at all if people won’t be able to understand it? It’s surprising how often you can read a report and ask, ‘What’s the point?’ and ‘What are they trying to say?’ Being accessible means that ideas are clearly conveyed to the reader, in language that can be understood by many (meaning the minimal use of jargon, acronyms and unfamiliar, technical terms) – and structured in a way that the main points of the writing come across directly.
2. Even editors use editors
Everyone needs an editor. Editors need editors. No one writes in a way that comes out perfectly the first time. It’s necessary to look over written material again and again. Often, if someone has worked too closely and too intensely on a document, a fresh pair of eyes is absolutely necessary. It’s just too difficult to spot those mistakes yourself.
And mistakes are just not a good look in your letters, articles, proposals, white papers, reports or on your social media. It’s true that some of your audience won’t care. But others will care a lot, and others might not know what’s wrong but they’ll sense poor or sloppy writing – and take with them the impression that the organisation or individual responsible produces low-quality work.
3. A single voice is needed
Any time more than one person works on a document, there’s a risk that it will sound like it was written by more than one person! A good editor can help smooth out the language and aim for a document that reflects a single, unified voice and vision.
This is especially so when numerous people have worked on the same report, and more so when they come from different countries. Spellings and conventions are different across Australia, the UK, Canada and the USA.
4. It makes business sense
It may be hard to quantify the financial impact of editing, but consider this:
Businesses are always trying to get an edge. Whether it’s submitting a tender for a major contract, selling products or services on your website, or establishing yourself as a thought leader through blogging and articles, good (that is, well-edited) writing could represent an important distinction between you and your competitors – and give you the edge.
Meanwhile, it can make your organisation more efficient. Division of labour is how most organisations operate. You assign particular tasks to specific people who have the expertise to do them. This makes the work efficient. It doesn’t make sense for someone to slave over perfecting a document if it’s not their forte. Unless writing is a main focus of their work, it’s a waste of time and resources if CEOs, senior managers and executive directors are spending hours on wordsmithing instead of leading their organisations.
5. Outsourcing to experts ensures a good look
Good writing isn’t easy.
Someone might have great skills or fantastic ideas but not necessarily have the capability to express those well on the page. In particular, technical experts may need to supply the content for a piece of writing, but to make the text readable, editing will be sorely needed.
At the same time, there are tricky parts of writing that not everyone knows about. Some of the most common mistakes are putting things in Capital Letters when they shouldn't be capitalised, and too many or too few hyphens. But there’s also making sure that you’re using the right quotation marks for the occasion, you can use an en-dash correctly and have decided how your bullet points should appear.
Contemporary trends in writing also mean that in order to appear up to date, or at least not old-fashioned, you should know about the move towards minimal punctuation and the rise in popularity of ‘sentence case’.
There’s no reason to feel self-conscious about your writing, or about what you don’t know about punctuation or style. Just give it to an expert to edit.