The Anchor: 5 tips on how to make writing copy-editor-friendly, if there is such a thing

17 Oct,2012

By Vidya Heble


#1 Making it bigger / bold / coloured doesn’t work if your writing is bad. In fact, if it is big, bold and/or coloured, editors may regard your writing with suspicion even if it is perfectly good. Just use a standard font – MS Word’s defaults are fine – and a decent size such as 12 points.


#2 Look it up. Don’t use a word that you think sounds like the word you should actually be using. It could mean something else altogether.


#3 If it’s a long word, ask whether it needs to be there. If it’s a long sentence, practise saying it. If it’s convoluted, shorten the words and the sentence because you’ve probably created a bhelpuri that doesn’t belong.


#4 Don’t use sms speak in official communication, even if it is chat or, in fact, sms.  Good language is a good habit. Not only will it tell the recipient that you care about how you say what you say, it will also make disciplined communication second nature for you. Note that this does not apply when you are chatting with friends or making non-official posts on Facebook – here you’re free to do what you like.


#5 Don’t forget the basics. If you’re writing a story, type your name at the top or the bottom of it, or put your name in the filename if possible. Yes, you sent it from your email address but the editors are likely to have more things on their plates than your masterpiece, so don’t make them go hunting down the origin of the story for the author’s name, when they get round to editing it. If you’re sending out a press release, check the file name. Don’t send out ‘(Company name) revised’, or ‘(CEO’s first name)’. Give it a short explanatory filename which includes the bare basics, such as ‘MxMIndia 1st Anniversary’ for instance.


Vidya Heble is deputy editor at MxMIndia, and is thrilled when good copy comes her way.


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