Revising and Editing: A Fun Little Mnemonic Device to Remember the Difference

I recently posted an article that aligned the proposal development process to the standard 5-Step Writing Process (if you missed it, you can check it out here). This week I’m expanding on the last two steps of this process: revising and editing. We often use the terms revising and editing interchangeably, but they are actually unique processes, each with differing goals:
  • Revising, which happens between the Pink and Red Team Reviews, aims at making content updates and structural changes that will clarify your narrative and message.
  • Editing, which happens between Red and Gold Team Reviews, aims at making grammatical and mechanical changes so that your narrative is clean and correct.

Mirroring similar memory devices, to help you remember the difference between the two, I have come up with this fun little mnemonic device: follow the ROAD and play the GAME.

After the Pink Team review, you’ll want to read what you have written again. With the Pink Team comments in mind, start making the necessary revisions to strengthen your section and clarify your message. In making your revisions, remember to follow the ROAD: Replace, Organize, Add, and Delete.

Replace: Replace generalities with specifics, unclear words with clear words, and wrong words with the correct words. Comb through your section and look for words that may need to be changed. Here is a comprehensive list.

Organize: Organize the text: move sections, paragraphs, sentences, or words around. Move things around so that your section flows smoothly.

Add: Add words or sentences for clarity and completeness. Add in content that may be necessary to strengthen the section (e.g., proof points, graphics, additional text, etc.).

Delete: Delete unneeded words and sentences; eliminate redundancies. Remove content that doesn’t fit or directly address the section requirements.

*Note: At this point, your draft is Red Team ready!

After the Red Team review, you’ll want to read what you have written again. With the Red Team comments in mind, start making the necessary edits to strengthen your section and clarify your message. (Note: some revisions may also be necessary at this stage, depending on how mature your Red Team draft was). In making your edits, remember to play the GAME: Grammar, Acronyms, Mechanics, and Error-free.

Grammar: Check for subject/verb agreement, correct tenses, etc. Be sure all sentences are complete. Look for subjects and verbs, and make sure you are using active voice.

Acronyms: Spell out and define acronyms on first use. Take make things easier for the customer, define all the acronyms on first use. This will also help the person who ends up putting together the final acronym list!

Mechanics: Check for correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Most proposal style guides provide guidance on things like capitalization, bullet use, acronym use, and other common stylistic rules to follow. If you have time to clean your section up before it goes through the formal edit, you will help speed up the formal editing process.

Error-free: Check for consistent formatting, eliminate any typos, etc. Change words that are not used correctly or that are unclear. Check for commonly misused words and other unclear formations in your draft. Make sure you are using the appropriate styles and formatting. Using the embedded styles within your Microsoft Word section template is a good first step! Following these conventions will also help speed up the desktop publishing and formal editing processes!

*Note: At this point your draft is ready for desktop publishing, formal editing, and then the Gold Team Review!

Final Thoughts
Revising and editing are critical steps in the proposal development process. I hope that you have found this breakdown useful and that you will be able to use it to help guide your writing teams as we immerse ourselves in our peak proposal season. Cheers!

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)


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