17. August 2021

Editing Codes Quick Start Guide

The OSP Writing and Editing Guide is a comprehensive resource for editors and writers. But if you're short on time, here we present some of the most important points and our favorite editing codes for you to improve your writing quickly.


The OSP Writing and Editing Guide provides structures, workflows, and processes to help you communicate more authentically.  We recommend reading it in full—all of it came from real situations we have encountered and had to deal with—but if you need to jump right into an article or blog post, you can use this guide as a reference. It offers enough pointers to make a positive difference to your work.

How we approach editing 

Our editing process is divided into stages. We move from the largest scope (structure) to the smallest, (choice of words). 

  1. Scope & Narrative Structure: Your piece should have a thesis and the subsequent narrative should follow a logical progression proving it.
  2. Flow & Readability: Assess how the content flows and transitions between sections. Include visual cues (lists, headers, etc.) to help the reader move through the narrative easily. 
  3. Style & Phrasing: Make sure you’re writing engaging content appropriate for the brand and target audience.
  4. Choice of Words: Scan the choice of specific words for appropriate emotional tone, proper grammar, and accurate terminology. 

When editing someone else’s work, you can and will skip back and forth between stages, but they give us a strong logical framework to help us be kind, consistent, and helpful editors.

Why Editing Codes? 

Our collection of editing codes are short editing marks that communicate the rationale behind a suggested edit, based on a specific writing guideline. They are organized into four structural sections and help you edit consistently.

For example, we use the code BUZZ to call out buzzwords and remind the author to avoid jargon. This directly links back to our writing principle of using accurate terminology to achieve clarity in our writing.

How to use the Editing Codes

Positivity pass

When you see content exemplifying a writing principle, comment using the code with two plus signs. 

++FRONT: Great, clear statement of thesis

++TRUST: Nice use of statistics to support this point.

Suggest revisions

When you see writing that could be improved, work out the writing principle that it relates to. Comment using the corresponding code and explain your thinking.

WIIFM. Who is the audience? If we’re talking to business owners, it’s not clear why they should keep reading.

GRAM. A word is missing here.

LIST. Great stats but consider converting this from sentence format to a bullet list.

If you can, help the author by suggesting alternative text.

Use change-tracking or suggestion mode if your software allows. Create an environment where everyone can learn from the process.

Our Top Codes

Our full collection contains over 60 codes! Here we’ve chosen some of our favorites to help you get started crafting a compelling piece of content.  

Scope & Narrative Structure

Introduction

  • FRONT: Clearly identify your main point or idea up front. The reader should be able to find it without difficulty. 
  • WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” Clearly show why the audience will care about the idea/thesis. 

Body

  • SPOCK: Use clear, logical thinking. Check that all evidence is directly connected with a cause/effect relationship to the claim.

Conclusion

  • CTA: Close with a clear call-to-action. Make sure your reader knows what to do and where to go next. 

Flow & Readability

  • FLOW: Organize the sections and paragraphs to flow in a logical order. Help your readers with clear transitions. 
  • TRUST: Where possible, mention or highlight trust signals like subject-matter expert quotes, testimonials, statistics, examples, evidence, etc. Link to or reference relevant reports or evidence.  
  • WALL: A wall of words will put off a reader at a glance. Use headers, paragraphs, blockquotes, and lists to add visual variation and interest.

Style & Phrasing

Audience-minded edits

  • TARGT: Write with the needs, problems, and perspective of the target audience in mind.
  • INCL: Use inclusive language to make sure readers feel respected and welcomed. 

Style

  • CRISP: Write sentences that are spare and concise. Aim for active voice, rhythm, and pace.
  • SIMPL: Use simple language where possible. This is especially important for international audiences.

Choice of Words

  • ACTIV: Use active voice to center the reader in the action. 
  • TERM: Use accurate technical terms and technology names.
  • GRAM: Check for grammatical errors (for example, subject/verb agreement, etc.)

Read our full guides

If you found this helpful, there's so much more in our full guides. Check them out, we'd love to hear from you about what helps and what we left out!

Get in touch!

To get in touch with us, follow what we're doing, or learn about our Writer Enablement Workshops, email us at hello@openstrategypartners.com, or hit us up on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

Subscribe to our podcast, “Communicate, Connect, Grow,” on: Apple PodcastsSpotifyRSS Feed, and YouTube!

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Image Credits: Nesting dolls photo by Didssph on Unsplash, OSP editing process image by Luna Zhang, Matryoshka icon by Erich Grois via TheNounProject


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