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There’s no doubt about it – editing is an art form and you can’t learn how to properly craft and improve text in a crash course.

However, the Editorial team in the Marketing and Communications Division has distilled 35 years of experience into 10 top tips to help you ensure your content is accurate, engaging, and consistent with our style.

Here are our tips for you – we hope you find them useful.

1. Make sure your text matches up with the University’s Editorial Style Guide. Watch out for key issues such as capitalisation, spelling and punctuation, common University terms and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander terminology.
2. Make sure your text reflects the University’s tone of voice. This means writing in a style that is active, engaging, personal and inclusive.
3. Avoid long-winded sentences which contain more than one thought or concept. By breaking them into two or three shorter sentences, you can greatly improve the readability. For example:

BEFORE: Difficult to follow
In collaboration with Dr Smith and Professor Jones (Newstar Institute, Washington, USA) Dr Andrews has developed a 3D spheroid model – a novel culture model where human melanoma cells, grown as 3D spheroids, are imparted into collagen gels to mimic tumour architecture and microenvironment.

AFTER: Simpler and more succinct
In collaboration with Washington-based colleagues, Dr Andrews leads the Sydney research team that has developed an ingenious cell culture model. It allows melanoma cells grown as 3D spheroids to be implanted into collagen gels – mimicking the structure and environment of a tumour.

4. For web and print content, less is more, so cut and cut again. As a basic guide, work to a limit of 300 words per webpage and keep the text clear and simple.
5. Do a thorough fact check and expect the unexpected with names and titles (even those that seem obvious such as ‘Brooks/Brookes’ and ‘Kelly/Kellie’). Don’t rely on websites to provide a definitive source of truth. If you’re not sure, call the person to doublecheck that their name and title are correct.
6. Remove unnecessary or obscure acronyms, jargon and any long, complex words that could confuse your audience. Our Editorial Style Guide explains how to use acronyms.
7. If in doubt, leave it out. If you’re editing and you come across a word, phrase or sentence that could be contentious or upsetting to your audience, remove it.
8. Make sure you have adapted your tone, delivery and messaging to your target audience.
9. Re-read a printed version of your content after it is drafted so you can see how it flows as a whole and easily identify typos and opportunities for improvements.
10. Get someone else to review your content. A fresh pair of eyes can help you to pick up errors, improve the tone and structure of the text and make it a more engaging read.

Of course you can always contact us if you have any more questions about editing, our editorial style or tone of voice.