The copy is done. The design is ready to be reviewed. But before you can declare your project finished, you’ll need to revise, revise, and revise some more. For many creatives, this can often be the most challenging part — especially if you’ve spent hours carefully crafting your “baby.”

Instead of approaching editing as a dreaded task, though, think of it as if you were a top surgeon ready to save the day. It’s not about keeping things functioning as usual; it’s about improving the life of your project (aka the patient).

Here are a few handy tips to help you cut, stitch, chop, and edit like a pro, so that both the copy and design shine in the final result.

1) Diagnose the Problem

Is there a line of copy or a design element that keeps tripping people up? No matter how brilliant you think it is, you might have to cut the cord. Simplicity and clarity are often more effective than something that’s beautiful but complicated. Get rid of anything that doesn’t add any sort of clear value.

Street Poster illustration by lynea

2) Get a Second Opinion

Sometimes you’re so far into a project that you can’t see it clearly anymore. Find someone completely removed from the work to offer feedback and act as “the customer.” Whether it’s a coworker from accounting or a small focus group, an outsider’s perspective can make all the difference.

Boxer illustration by lynea

3) Don’t Take It Personally

In the operating room, keeping a cool head is key. It’s the same with creative work. It’s easy to get emotionally attached or take edits personally, but revising is a necessary — albeit sometimes painful — step to getting the job done. Keep an open mind and be flexible.

Examination Under Magnifying Glass illustration by lynea

4) Do Your Homework

If you were a doctor facing a tough case, you might interview your patient again or check their file for something you missed. For your project, you can go back to the original creative brief. Ask yourself what the main objective is and whether you’re achieving it. If not, you may have to start over.

Hand Holding a Glass illustration by lynea

5) Take a Break

There’s a reason the doctors on ER were always playing basketball. One of the worst things you can do is dwell on your work for hours at a time. Take a coffee break. Go for a leisurely walk. Work on something else. Then return to your project revitalized and with fresh eyes.


Top Image: Human Brain illustration by lynea

Want to add an editing tip to the list? Let us know what has or hasn’t worked for you in the comments!