Step Six: Editing

Sure, colleagues may edit your document. But you should be your document’s first editor. Think of editing as the last fine-tuning before you send the document to your boss. Editing consists of two parts—macroediting and microediting—and you should do both.


Macroediting involves looking at the “big picture” of the document. Is the document’s key message clear and goal-related? Does the document appeal to readers’ self-interests? Does it cover the important parts of who, what, when, where, why and how? Is it well organized—does one section lead logically to the next? Is the format—the way it looks on the page or screen—correct?

Macroediting also can involve a final revision. Can you find a precise noun to replace a current adjective–noun combination? Can you find a precise verb to replace a current adverb–verb combination? Are you using boring to be verbs too often? Can you find more interesting action verbs?


Microediting is proofreading. It involves going through the document one sentence at a time and double-checking grammar (including spelling and punctuation) and accuracy. Double-check all names, dates, prices and other facts. Use your computer’s spell-check program, but don’t rely on it exclusively. Use a dictionary to look up every word or phrase that could be wrong. Double-check the accuracy of quotations. Microediting is best done backward, starting with the document’s last sentence. Moving backward breaks up the flow of the too-familiar document. Moving backward makes the document sound new and different; it helps you focus on each sentence. You’ll see what you actually wrote instead of what you meant to write.

In addition to the links below, be sure to review “10 Tips for Writing Better Sentences” in your textbook.

Editing Links

5 Steps for Editing Your Own Writing

Editing and Proofreading

Purdue OWL: Proofreading

10 Steps for Editing Your Own Writing

100 Editing and Proofreading Tips for Writers