Need to Edit Your Own Copy? Play 20 Questions

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As budgets are cut, many marketing departments can't afford a copywriter, let alone an editor. Though some say it's impossible to edit your own copy, it can be done if you play 20 questions. After you've written your copy, ask yourself the following:

1. Does it have a single theme or message?

2. Are your last and first sentences no more than two or three lines long?

3. As you read the last paragraph, does the pace quicken with shorter sentences?

4. Do your headlines, sub-headlines and illustrations tell your entire story for skimmers?

5. If you're writing a letter, does your P.S. sum up your main benefit and/or offer?

6. Do you focus on the benefits?

7. Is it you-focused? For every "I" or "we," there should be 3 "yous."

8. Did you tell the reader what you want him/her to do?

9. Is it logical? Can someone who is unfamiliar with this topic follow it?

10. If there is a chart, does your copy refer to it?

11. Have you eliminated any "thats" you don't need?

12. Did you mention the company and/or product name? Neither too little nor too much.

13. Does 80 percent of your writing use words that are five letters or fewer?

14. Read your copy out loud. Does it sound good?

15. In concluding, did you return to the theme that began it?

16. Once it's designed, does it look inviting? Is there enough white space?

17. Do you have any large blocks of copy? Break them into multiple paragraphs or, better yet, bullets.

18. Did you use odd numbers in your headlines if appropriate?

19. Is it convincing?

20. Did you recheck the contact information and ensure the phone number works?

It is possible to improve your own writing. If you play 20 questions with your copy, you'll create a clear, compelling message every time.

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