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Open Strategy Partners Editing Codes

Be a more mindful, transparent editor.
Be a more consistent writer.

 

Because editing shouldn't be a black box, and we all want to learn and improve!

The OSP Editing Codes

Editing Codes are a collection of short, semantic editing marks to use when editing a piece of written content — your own or someone else's.

Explain, teach, learn. The codes are based on specific writing guidelines. Use them to communicate the rationale behind a suggested change. They're also a great way to share useful writing tips!

 


How to use the Editing Codes

Step one: Identify, Reflect, Consider

  1. Read the piece of writing.
  2. Encounter something that you want to give feedback on.
  3. Pause a moment to reflect.
  4. Find the code that represents the writing principle that underpins your feedback.
  5. Be constructive! Everyone wants to improve their writing :-)

This takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get familiar with the codes it becomes second nature.

Step two: Include the Code in your Feedback

  1. Preface your feedback with the code.
  2. Add your comments or suggestions. 

Step Three: Praise. Always Be Positive.

Help your writer build good habits by telling them what you like and what they do well.

Add a `++` to a code to praise a positive example of its use. You can follow with extra detail, or just let it stand alone.

Step Four: Pass it on!

We hope our Editing Codes help you be a more mindful and transparent editor, and a more consistent writer!

Let your writer know that you used the editing codes to review their work. Link to this page or copy this:

Nice work! I used these Editing Codes in my review to help explain my suggestions. Let me know if you have any questions!


OSP Editing Codes

Scope & Narrative Structure

Flow & Readability

Style & Phrasing

Word choice

Scope & Narrative Structure

Category Editing Code Writing Principle
Opening LEDE Don't bury the lead. In the article, or even in a sentence.
Opening FRONT Clearly identify your main point or idea up front.
Opening SPFIC Make the scenario or problem space specific. Avoid vague, general claims.
Opening WHOM Identify (explicitly or implicitly) your audience in the opening section. This is not a grammar issue, it is to help readers self-select and identify with a piece (or not). 
Opening WIIFM Lead with the benefit. Clearly show why the audience will care about the idea/thesis in the opening section.
Logical Rigor POINT Points supporting an argument, thesis, or claim can be strong, weak, or missing. This is somewhat subjective! Editors, please expand on this when you use this code.
Logical Rigor SPOCK Use clear, logical thinking. Avoid logical fallacies. Check that all evidence is directly connected with a cause/effect relationship to the claim.
Logical Rigor FACT Back all factual claims with evidence: examples, testimonials, statistics or other research.
Emotional claims are acceptable without evidence, especially in a quote like a testimonial.
Closing CTA Close with a clear call to action.
Closing SUMM Summarize your thesis, and why it matters in the closing section.
Closing THESIS Restate your thesis/main idea in the closing section, but do not simply repeat verbatim

Flow & Readability

Category Editing Code Writing Principle
Flow FLOW Organize the sections and paragraphs in a logical order and ensure they have an elegant flow and transition to them.
Flow RHYTH Be aware of the length of paragraphs and avoid overly long blocks of text. Stagger length. Create rhythm and visual variation for your reader.
Structural Aids SUBHD Relevant subheads assist the reader by breaking up copy and defining the purpose of each text block.
This is the structural perspective on the code HEAD.
Trust and
evidence
EXMPL Examples enhance the thesis or claims by helping to create a picture in the readers mind.
Trust and
evidence
QUOTE Quote your subject matter expert directly wherever possible to build trust, authority, and add interest.
Trust and
evidence
TRUST Where possible, mention or highlight signals of trust
Tight Writing CASE Make sure each point in each paragraph is valid, relevant, and unique.
Tight Writing CLUTT Cut all clutter (no extraneous words, sentences, or paragraphs). If your words do not build the case toward the conclusion or your thesis, they are extraneous. Good writing is often a process of rewriting, and editing with a critical eye. Judge your writing as if someone else wrote it.
Tight Writing TOOM Avoid over explaining or providing too much detail. Only explain what is relevant in the context of the article.
Coherence
& Readability
HEAD Relevant subheads assist the reader by breaking up copy and defining the purpose of each text block.
This is the readability perspective on the code SBHEAD.
Coherence
& Readability
LIST Bulleted lists present information efficiently. This format is easily scannable and provides a visual break in the copy.
Coherence
& Readability
WALL Use headers, paragraphs, blockquotes, and lists to add visual variation and interest. A wall of words will put off readers at a glance. 
Coherence
& Readability
ILLUS Add non-text explanations, metaphors, and data using photos, charts, diagrams, or illustrations where possible. Images provide visual interest and a variation in long articles. 
A picture is worth 1000 words for conveying some kinds of information efficiently.
Audience SEP Separation of concerns. Sometimes two different points are combined in a single sentence, and should be made separately. This can also apply to a paragraph, section of an article, or even an extraneous topic in one post that you can remove or break out into its own article.

Style & Phrasing

Category Editing Code Writing Principle
Audience CNECT Use language that will connect with your target audience, but avoid jargon that will prevent non-experts from gaining value from your writing.
Audience EMPATH Write with the needs, problems, perspective of the target audience in mind
Grammar,
Style and
Phrasing
ANLGY Use analogies to help make raw data more interesting and help people visualise it. For example, "That's enough people to fill 2/3 of Yankee Stadium."
Tone CRIT Avoid hidden or implied criticism. Don’t tell people they’re "doing it wrong".  Externalise the problem away from the reader, for example, "a common mistake is."
We can blame the software. We can suggest ways to do something better, make your day better, or improve efficiency.
Tone BRAND Match the tone to the client's brand guidelines.
Tone TONE Match the tone for the use case (for example, support versus marketing). Follow client voice guidelines where provided.
Tone FUD Avoid negative copy and FUD marketing (fear, uncertainty, doubt). We want to make a positive difference in the world. Highlighting the positive, the benefits or unique selling points a product offers is far stronger and clearer than resorting to criticizing the competition.
Trust and
evidence
HYPER Avoid hyperbole, exaggeration, binary comparisions (good/bad), and claims you can't back up.
Tight Writing CRISP Write sentences that are spare and concise. Use occasional longer sentences to vary the rhythm of your writing. Aim for active voice, rhythm, and pace.
Avoid flowery, long-winded words and sentences. 
Tight Writing REDUN Avoid redundant words (for example, future plans, unexpected surprise, most optimized)
Inclusive and
human-centric
language
INCL Use inclusive lanaguage to make readers feel respected and welcomed. Avoid language that shows prejudice, bias, discrimination, or a lack of sensitivity.
Balance use of she/her with he/him in texts. Our preference is for a majority to be she/her. All she/her may be often acceptable; all he/him may not be. "They" is also acceptable.
Inclusive and
human-centric
language
JUDG Replace subjective evaluations or judgements with specific outcomes or needs.
Inclusive and
human-centric
language
PAX Aim to use non-violent language by replacing metaphors around war, sports, and sex, with more peaceful, constructive ones like art, carpentry, or gardening.
Inclusive and
human-centric
language
DIRCT Use direct address when appropriate. Make instructions simple and direct. For example, replace "Please be aware that we can also make instructions simple and direct," with "Make instructions simeple and direct."
Accessibility A11Y Write for accessibility. We love The Stanford Online Accessibility Program guide on this.
Accessibility SIMPL Use simple language where possible. This is especially important for international audiences.
Phrasing FEEL Your sentences should create pictures, feelings, and emotions for the reader.
Phrasing DIR Use the direct path to the explanation. Avoid longwinded paths to the point.
Phrasing KISS Avoid making points sound needlessly complicated.
Phrasing REPET Avoid careless repetition.
Phrasing FRESH Avoid cliches or stale expressions.
Phrasing METPH Be consistent if you use a metaphor. Try to carry it through the entire article and/or to its logical conclusion.
Phrasing COLOR Color and energy. Choose interesting, exciting ways to express things - but not at the expense of clarity.
Phrasing CLEAR Clear writing. Avoid vague descriptions of benefits. Be as specific as possible.

Word Choice

Category Editing Code Writing Principle
Strong verbs ACTIV Use the active voice (mostly) to center the reader in the action. Check if gerund (-ing) phrases are weakening your message.
Strong verbs VERBS Replace common, weak or vague verbs with more specific, colorful ones.
Strong verbs LEAD Lead with verbs and actions.
Strong verbs TENSE Tense. Check it’s in the right tense and consistent throughout.
Accuracy
& Terminology
AMBIG Avoid ambiguity. Avoid being vague. Word choice can leave things open to interpretation. Be as specific as possible.
Accuracy
& Terminology
TERM Technical terms and technology names: Explain what they are and what they do to make sure your audience (at relevant levels of experience) are all on the same page with you. Define technical terms directly in the article. Link to other articles, with deeper explanations, where it makes sense.
Ensure technical accuracy (research, ask an expert, ask the client). Mistakes of this type can impact overall credibility of the content.
Accuracy
& Terminology
BUZZ Replace jargon, buzzwords, and clichés with a clear and concise statement that expresses your point. This can be expressions like "clear as a bell" or technical acronyms like "IEEE Std 802.11-2007" . The former lacks any specific information helpful to the reader, while the latter can prevent a reader who is not an expert in the field from understanding the writing. 
Accuracy
& Terminology
ACRO Acronyms - explain what they stand for (what they are, what they do).
Accuracy
& Terminology
DATE Stay current and relevant. Don’t date your content. ("Last September," "earlier this year," etc.)
Accuracy
& Terminology
ANTE Be clear about what "this, "that", "they" refer to.
Grammar and
punctuation
GRAM Check for grammar errors.
Grammar and
punctuation
MODIF Put modifiers (words that alter others) in the correct order.

 The OSP Editing Codes © 2018-present by Open Strategy Partners GmbH is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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