How to improve a piece of content (for your audience AND business)


Written by

Laura Bosco

The featured image for this blog post.

Note: This post is another peek inside our company playbook. We've also published how we choose content topics, how we turn those topics into drafts, and what you should know if you're creating your own playbook.

Overview: Great pieces require collaboration. Once a writer drafts a piece, here's how to edit it so it's more useful to customers and more impactful for the brand.

What's on this page:

What's the point of editing?

Goals of editing

"Put another way, to write is human, to edit is divine." Stephen King, On Writing

"...every bit of content you create should be to please the customer or prospect—not your boss or client." Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

When you edit, you assume two roles: empathizer and coach. This is because the two big goals of editing are:

Here's how to accomplish these two goals.

A quick guide to editing

"In our world, quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience..." Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

When you edit a piece, you pay attention to both the big picture (structure, flow, clarity, relevance) as well as the nitty-gritty (grammar, spelling, phrasing). Think of it this way:

Great pieces take the reader on a journey. The overview below is a basic process for noticing and improving every part of that journey.

How to edit, a brief how-to

Read the whole thing, look at the big picture, zoom in on the details, and double-check your comments:

1. Read the whole thing

2. Look at the big picture

3. Look at the nitty-gritty


Review your edits

To take these steps, you may want to use a few handy frameworks.

Four useful editing frameworks and how to use them









Making it "expert." via                                                

BLUF, MECE, CRIBS, and EASY will all help you identify where an article needs more work and where it can be improved. But keep in mind not all editing is helpful. Here's where you want to be careful.

Here there be dragons: when editing hurts

A comment isn't helpful by default. Especially if you're new to editing, you want to watch out for some common editing pitfalls. Here's when editing does more harm than good:

Not sure if your editing helps?

I mentioned the two goals of editing are improving the piece for the reader and equipping the writer.

If you're not sure whether your edits are helpful to the writer, there's an easy way to find out—ask them!

Senior writers, in particular, are usually good at explaining what they need from you.

So, set up a time to chat with the writer and ask them:

Remember, it's a team effort.

Laura Bosco is a writer and people person. She helps tech startups do tricky things, like explain who they are and what they're doing. Ping her on Twitter to say hi.