Editing advice for dissertations and PR writing

greenscissors Editing is a real skill – particularly when reviewing your own work when you’ve invested time in crafting a press release, report, letter, essay, project or dissertation.

I’m a fan of writing to a specific word count and this is a vital piece of information for anyone producing professional documents.  Are you writing a 50-100 word news piece?  Or a one-pager briefing report?  A 3,000 word essay or a 10,000 word dissertation?  The same principles apply in terms of conveying what you need to get across as succinctly but with as much depth and breadth as possible and/or required.

If you’re struggling getting your work cut to size, try these ten tips:

  • Calculate the percentage to be cut – save up to 10% by techniques such as removing superfluous words; over 10% you’ll need to rephrase, rewrite or delete judiciously
  • Read your draft through slowly and check whether every word, sentence and paragraph makes a relevant point and remove any padding
  • Ensure you haven’t repeated yourself and if so, delete, integrate or synthesise
  • Look out for phrases of two or more words which could be replaced with a single word
  • Review quotes and ensure their content isn’t repeated elsewhere or if they could be paraphrased more succinctly
  • Check the introduction and conclusion to ensure you have focused on the key points in a concise and insightful way
  • Hunt down words that have no value – do you need every instance of however, although, but etc?
  • Break sentences down into shorter ones to cut out linking phrases
  • Can any background or supplementary information be moved to an appendix without impacting on understanding in the main work?
  • Use bullet points, tables, infographics or diagrams to convey information in a less wordy way

BTW, if you’re counting – the above is 298 words (not counting the headline)

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

3 thoughts on “Editing advice for dissertations and PR writing”

  1. Spot on! There’s just one tip that I’d add… Before the final tweaking of your work, leave the text alone for a few days. When you come back to it, put yourself in your tutor’s shoes and edit accordingly.

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