The Authentic Communication Editing Process has six steps or stages. moving from the largest scope (structure) to the smallest (choice of words). The six stages give us a strong logical framework to help us be kind, consistent, and helpful editors. We add two steps at the beginning to round out the process: familiarizing yourself with the topic by consulting the creative brief and a “positivity pass.”
Note: Not all content requires exhaustive editing or review. Depending on your piece, you may spend more or less time on each step. Skip around as you see fit. View these as stages as prompts, but not a rule.
1. Review the brief and read the article¶
With the brief in mind, read the article. Consult the brief to understand the goals for the writing—target audience for choice of language, research and interview material, conversion goals, etc.
2. Positivity pass (++)!¶
Note the strengths of the work: Provide ++ positive feedback first! Initiate the editing process by noting the positive elements of the work. What are the overarching strengths, significant accomplishments, and powerful communication aspects of the work?
3. Review the narrative structure¶
While reviewing the Narrative Structure, look at the content of the entire article. Review the organizational structure of the writing, as well as the relevance and logical progression of the narrative.
Does the story told by the article remain within the planned scope outlined in the brief?
Does it include all the elements outlined in the brief?
Does the structure of the arguments support the narrative?
Are the supporting points logical and valid?
Does the narrative open with a clear explanation of the topic and close with a call to action?
Look for needless repetition or extraneous sections that don’t add to the narrative.
4. Review and analyze flow and readability¶
Review each section in detail. Consider the beginning, middle, and end of each section. Assess how the content flows and segues between sections. Ensure there is a rhythm in the content to help the reader move through the narrative without fatigue.
During this stage of the process, we clarify sections within the narrative and ensure the arrangement of the points contributes to the narrative. We look at the purpose of each section, each main argument, and how it is supported. Each paragraph should be unique and clear, and there should be a clear transition between each.
As part of this step in the process, we consider how to break up “walls of text” that impede the narrative and degrade readability. Additionally, we consider reader aids such as formatting, bullets, images, or diagrams to help explain concepts.
5. Analyze style and phrasing¶
During this step in the process, we assess the style and phrasing of the writing.
Is the writing human-centric?
Is the language appropriate for the target audience?
Is the content engaging?
Are there metaphors and analogies to add color and comprehensibility?
Is the voice and tone appropriate to the brand and audience?
Is the writing “crisp” and to the point?
Remove the extraneous content that doesn’t add to the story.
Is the content inclusive and accessible?
Address your audience directly where it makes sense: “You will learn,” rather than “people learn.”
Remove violent language. Replace metaphors around war and violence with other, more peaceful, constructive ones like art, carpentry, and gardening.
6. Analyze and provide feedback on word choice¶
At the most detailed level, we can look at the choice of specific words. At this level, we can create stronger content with appropriate emotional tone and meaning by choosing words that are correct within the context of the content. We can also discard passive phrasing in favor of writing that exhibits more color and flair. This is where we focus on the accuracy of terminology, defining new phrases and terms for the audience. And of course, the right punctuation and grammar are essential for comprehension.