All Blog Posts By Topic, Journalism, Marketing, Writing Tips

Copy Editing for Higher Standards

Check out these quick tips on how to spend your time as an editor, editing for social media, and websites that’ll make your life easier in this ACES Editing Bootcamp recap!

“Research shows dedicated readers (an hour or more per day) have higher standards. They are more concerned about professionalism and grammar than errors of style or structure.” —Teresa Schmedding

ACES (American Copy Editors Society) Editing Boot Camp, Nashville 2014

Speakers: Teresa Schmedding, ACES president, Daily Herald Media Group
(E:; Twitter: @tschmedding); David Sullivan, ACES vice president, Philadelphia Inquirer (E:; and Brady Jones, ACES secretary, Omaha World-Herald (E:; @modernangelo)

Sept. 4, 2014, Opryland Hotel, Nashville, TN


Editing makes a difference. As an editor, your job is important! Here’s what dedicated readers pay attention to in publications:

  • Professionalism: Content is written with care and is clean of mistakes
  • Organization: Content has the appropriate tone, uses words correctly, and offers clarity and consistence
  • Grammar: Content has very few, if any, errors, contributing to credibility


  • Grammar
  • Attention to detail
  • Clarity
  • Professionalism


  • Style rules: Let go of some of your publication’s outdated or arbitrary style rules.
    • Challenge boss’s pet peeves.
    • If you can’t make a business case for it, let it go.


  • Words have a natural rhythm. Try reading aloud as you are editing, and if you stumble across the words, they should probably be revised.
  • Edit for style and flow. The writer shouldn’t Ping-Pong between formal and informal speech. Writing style should be consistent to reinforce a publication’s theme and tone. Written copy is an approximation of spoken speech—it should be somewhat fluid and conversational, not formal, stuffy or full of jargon and numbers.
  • If you realize you make fewer editing mistakes when proofreading a hard copy printout of an article versus the digital computer document on a screen, then print it out and mark it up with a red pen. Use the editing method that works best for you.

“Boundaries are blurring between the roles of PR, social media, SEO, and digital marketing.”– Teresa Schmedding

  • You are branding your identity each time you post content (text, photos or video) on social media. Your brand identity is also reflected in the posts you share, like, or comment on.
  • The quality of your social media content affects people’s perceptions of you, your product and brand, and therefore, it affects their buying decisions.
  • For social media headlines, stick to 6–8 words max. Always rewrite print headlines so they fit more appropriately online.
  • Sentences posted to social media should be relatively short, between 8–10 words each, and vary in length.
  • Your content should sound real, human, and show some emotion. Don’t sound like an advertisement. And don’t be overly emotional either.
  • You can get private on social media, but don’t get intimate in a public forum.


  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The process of adjusting the content of a website so it will be displayed prominently online by a search engine (such as Google, Yahoo or Bing!).
  • SMO (Social Media Optimization): The process of optimizing a website and its content in terms of being able to share it across social media sites. Many blog sites such as WordPress enable users who have their own WordPress blog sites/Web pages to insert social media icons into their posts and permanent pages, so the content can easily be shared.


“We use technology as much as possible, so we can use our human brains for the things technology can’t do.” —Teresa Schmedding

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