First, prepare to edit. Concentrate
fully on the copy and remember the three cardinal rules:
A. Avoid changing anything without a good reason
B. Avoid changing anything substantial without consulting the writer
C. Avoid adding errors
Now, apply the RECESS model:
1. Read the copy completely before doing any editing, to get its overall effect. Bear in mind the assignment. What purpose and audience are being served?
2. Edit for Content:
A. Is the lead
compelling and focused on the key point?
B. Is the material accurate, clear, fair, consistent, logical, tasteful, thorough? Are sources named? Is information well-documented? Do any legal, taste or ethical problems arise? Is something important omitted?
C. If you find content problems, rank them in order and consider the most important ones first.
3. Edit for Structure:
grammar, punctuation, spelling, style and usage. Look at every word critically.
Say each word and sentence "aloud" in your mind.
B. Guard against wordiness.
4. Signoff: Re-read the story for final effect and to make certain you haven't added any errors. If the accuracy of anything is in question, consult the writer or take other appropriate action.
SUMMARY: R ead
E dit for
E dit for
-- Carl Sessions Stepp
University of Maryland