How do I edit thee?
Let me count the ways.
I edit thee for obvious responsiveness, aligning the sections with the questions: the same numbering, headings, and order.
I edit thee for organization within each section, keeping like topics together and imposing some sort of defensible order on a stream-of-consciousness input.
I edit thee for clarity, ensuring that the same concept in different sections uses the same words.
I edit thee for macro consistency, ensuring that content in different sections tells the same story.
I edit thee for micro consistency, enforcing arbitrary standards on acronym use, capitalization, spelling, units of measurement, and an entire flock of factoids.
I edit thee for readability:
- Breaking down long sentences
- Breaking apart long paragraphs
- Using simpler words
- Adding bullets and graphics
I edit thee for style, smoothing the idiosyncracies that different writers and technical/business specialties exhibit.
I edit thee for marketing impact, putting the benefit first: in each section, in each paragraph, in each sentence.
I edit thee for length, finding shorter ways to say almost everything.
I edit thee for typos and grammatical errors, driving out basic mistakes.
I edit thee in one pass, jumping effortlessly between the biggest picture (solution clarity and consistency), the big picture (marketing impact), the slightly smaller picture (style consistency), the tiniest of tiny pictures (standardizing spaces around slashes), and all the pictures in-between.
Jumping from one conceptual level to another, from one level of abstraction to another, from one level of detail to another, is work. Hard work. Tiring work. Prone-to-error work.
The longer I do this work, the more I’m inclined to break editing into discrete tasks. First, structure and numbering. Second, readability and length. Third, clarity. Fourth, consistency and style. Fifth, length and graphics.
One person can do it all, or a few editors can tag-team a document, with one cleaning up the obvious messes and the other reading for meaning. Successive passes can deliver a higher-quality product faster than a single pass, and with less wear-and-tear on the editor(s).
Pick one focus at a time (OK, or two – this *is* Proposal Land and some parallel processing is expected). Complete it (or them). And repeat.