Curation Corner: The Traffic Light Revision Technique

It’s easy to urge each other to crank out ideas and imagery.
Countless articles and posts urge us to dive in and heat up that pen or keyboard.
But what about those next steps, where the real work kicks in?
Copyblogger editor-in-chief Stefanie Flaxman’s Traffic Light Revision Technique weaves much-needed, but often elusive, objectivity into her approach to revision/editing.

Let’s boil it down:

  1. Read over your material in a word processing document. [‘Document 1’] Color-code your sentences–green for ‘okay with me’, yellow for ‘needs some work’, red for ‘needs complete overhaul’. [Note: Use your own file-naming strategies.]
  2. Save ‘Document 1’, without any further tinkering.
  3. Create a copy of ‘Document 1’ [‘File’, ‘Save as…’], complete with the colored highlights. Name it ‘Document 2’.
  4. Edit Document 2, recoloring your sentences green when satisfied with the work they’re doing.
  5. Proofread your work [aloud is always a good idea] with the following question as your beacon:

“Do these words clearly communicate my true intent
and give my audience a cohesive presentation?”

There you go! You can now send your work on to the Pulitzer Prize committee.

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