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1. Decide on who and why

2. Get to know the text

3. Put the best bit first

4. Slash everything else

5. Edit sentences

6. Put "if" before "then"

7. Demolish walls of words

8. Launch and land on the same name

9. Rest it then test it


4. Slash everything else

The secret of great editing is cutting. Most people have little time to read; keep it short.

Slash by half, slash by half again

Generally there are too many words. Cut to half of what you started with. Then try to cut by half again.

Use short paragraphs and short sentences

Short paragraphs have one idea or topic per paragraph.

Short sentences are between 10 and 20 words. If it works at 9 words, go for it. If you need 25 words to pull your argument together and create a connected thought, then don't let the 20 word suggestion put you off.

Check your headings

If you did step 2 Get to know your text then you will have a mix of headings and headlines to sort out.

Good headings help skimming readers to land on what they want.

The best headings are are headlines: mini-sentences that can stand alone, without the content that they summarise.

Cut any headings that are not headlines.

Decide whether you need both the headline and the bit that it summarises.


Tip: use scissors

Try printing out the text and cutting it up with scissors. Throw away the bits you know you don't need. Put aside bits you're not sure about. Then work on the rest.

The change from screen to paper gives you a fresh view and makes it easier to focus on the best bit.

Where from?

Cutting by half and half again:

Krug, S. (2014) "Don't Make Me Think Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web and Mobile Usability"

"Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left. Krug's Third Law of Usability".

Where to find out more

Ginny Redish's book

"Cut! Cut! Cut! And cut again!
chapter 7: Focusing on conversations and key messages