Quick tips for writing cleaner copy

Writing-cleaner-copyWhether you’re a writer, marketing professional or graphic designer, you’ll inevitably go through the process of merging words and design.

One of the most common grievances between writers and designers is the struggle for clean copy. Making text changes at the design stage is time consuming for everyone and every change is an opportunity for new errors.

Working with error-free copy at the production stage is always the goal but it’s easy to underestimate how difficult that can be. Here are a few easy ideas to help create cleaner copy.


You may be confident in your editing abilities, but it is beyond your control that your brain is hardwired to reread what your words were as you wrote them, effectively bypassing many errors. Make it a rule to always have someone else read the copy before it goes into production. Budget a proof-reader into the job. If that’s not an option, run it by a friend or relative with attention to detail. Work should always be reviewed by your peepers plus another’s.


Give the text three rounds of editing when possible, each with a different approach. Read through for cohesion/clarity, then for spelling/proper name double checks and finally review backwards so each word/sentence is seen freshly by your brain.


Where possible, give your mind an hour break between what you wrote and beginning to edit. Some writers shelve their books for months before they look at them again. Deadlines do not always allow for this, in fact sometimes the turnaround is very tight. Copy sent in a rush, even if it was written in 15 minutes and read 10 times in the next 20 minutes, is likely to carry errors. Your brain just isn’t reading anything different, nor will spot anything new, no matter how many times you re-read it. You are better off writing copy and reviewing it again in about an hour, even if you only re-read it once.

If you are having consistent trouble with errors and are working in soft copies only, try going old school and printing documents out for a little while. We’re far from a paperless world for many reasons. For some people, there’s something about ink and paper that the brain views differently than a digital screen. It may be the case for everyone, but we have become so used to computers the change may be imperceptible to some.

Hopefully these simple tips will help you create cleaner copy. A little more time spent in editing is made up by less time spent in production.


© 2013, Bateman Design Group. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced or distributed, in whole or in part, without prior written permission of Bateman Design Group.

Bateman Design Group is a boutique creative agency in Barrie offering graphic design and website development services since 2003. We are available to work independently or as a freelance part of your marketing team.




About Julie Bateman

Julie Bateman is a professional graphic designer and the founder of Bateman Design Group, a boutique creative agency in Barrie, Ontario. Julie has over 15 years of design and business experience, and has taught courses in Digital Photography, Design Fundamentals and Advertising at Georgian College. Samples of her work have been published in both ‘Basic Logos’ by Index Books, and ‘Graphically Speaking: A Visual Lexicon for Achieving Better Designer-Client Communication’ by Lisa Buchanan. Julie also recently earned her Google Analytics Platform Principles certificate from Google.
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