Editing Matters!

Mar 13, 2017 | Posted by Nathan King


For every benefit that our modern device-based technologies bring, there is a cost, and autocorrect is no exception. For those who use this tool, muddled messes can arise when they send messages without first stopping to check their words. While most people understand accidental texting mistakes, the phenomenon is a painful reminder of a declining value—the importance of editing for precision in written communication. In an age of Microsoft Word and spell check, ought we be concerned with developing our students’ proofreading skills? There are at least three reasons why doing so could prove valuable: clarity, critical thinking, and positive influence.

First, precise writing is important because it produces clarity of communication. Andrew’s joke for this month stands alongside a fictional editing mistake commonly used to illustrate the accurate use of commas: Let’s eat, Grandma as opposed to Let’s eat Grandma. Do commas save lives after all? These examples are silly, but they illustrate the reality that clarity is not a foregone conclusion. There are numerous examples in the world of misunderstandings that have come from unclear communication.

Next, consider this. Can developing the skill of editing one’s own writing and presentation be done without also developing the skill of critiquing the language of others? Those students who can identify poor mechanics or imprecise thought are more likely to be able to recognize the underlying messages that are being used to influence them. This is the elemental stuff of which critical thinking is constructed. A culture of clear-minded critical thinkers would be a powerful culture, indeed.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, precise writing produces opportunities for positive influence while imprecise and error-laden efforts often impede it. Social media has made all voices accessible, but that doesn’t mean that all voices are viewed equally. Poorly written and poorly edited writing can prevent a writer with a good message from having influence on others. Ominously, the converse is true. A writer with a bad message who writes well can have a much greater influence on others. Andrew tells of Dr. Webster’s thoughts about a strong presentation in the ninth disc of the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style course. “A good idea poorly presented is not necessarily as powerful as a bad idea well presented. History proves this,” he states. As he muses over Dr. Webster’s words in the video, Andrew adds, “Hitler comes to mind.” For the greatest opportunity to influence other people and change our world for the better, we would do well to do what is necessary to ensure that our writing is clear and precise. Let clarity, critical thinking, and positive influence prosper!

Learn to edit, for editing matters.


Nathan King, the customer marketing manager for IEW, grew up as the son of a pastor in Wichita, Kansas. Following his graduation from Manhattan Christian College and Kansas State University with a degree in secondary education in history, he worked for thirteen years as a youth pastor in his hometown. Since he began working for IEW, Nathan has enjoyed both the marketing and customer service sides of his position. Nathan and his wife of thirteen years, Melissa, homeschool their four children, but it is his amazing wife that does the lion’s share of this vital mission!

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