Written language skills are an integral part of many positions in almost every industry. Even staff positions and freelance opportunities that center around writing or editing skills can occur in multiple fields that don’t overlap.
From textbook proofreading to creative writing for websites, a writer’s profession exists comfortably within every industry imaginable.
Most people in the United States can write, but few can write well. Not all professionals understand the nuance of words, syntax, and style to properly hand out complex ideas in digestible ways for readers from various walks of life.
What Are Writing and Editing Skills?
The article you are reading right now was composed, edited, and redrafted before publication online.
Sometimes writing and editing is done by a team (some writing and some editing) or by one person.
Because written communication can be challenging, taking great care ensures that the content is accurate and read-worthy.
Yet, there are certain core skills that all writers and editors share. It is one thing to write for fun or privately in a diary. It is another thing entirely to write professionally. Even those that are natural writers may not do well professionally unless they practice and improve their abilities. On the other hand, many professional writers were at one time terrible writers.
That being said, writing is an acquired skill that can be developed with practice. Most writers have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, most employers want to see samples of your writing before they take a look at your education and work history.
Types of Writing and Editing Skills
Strong Grammar Skills
Even if you are writing with the assistance of an editor, you must make your points clear. As such, you cannot write well if you do not have a good grasp of spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, and all that good grammar entails. Automatic spell-checkers and similar software aids are useful, but they aren’t fully reliable.
Excellent writing and editing still requires an analytical, detail-oriented human eye.
If you are familiar with a specific usage style, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press, put that down. And if you're trained in other style guides such as medical or legal, mention those as well.
- Strong Vocabulary
- Using the Rhetorical Triangle
- Devise Structure
- Establish Tone
- Forming a Thesis
- Building Outlines
As a professional writer, you could be called upon to write on topics you don't know much about. This requires research, sometimes online. If you are good at finding and assimilating large amounts of information quickly, say so—and provide examples from your history to prove it.
- Proper Use of Search Engines
- Data Analysis
- Interpreting Statistics
- Report Writing
- Online Searches
- Identifying Audience
- Content Review
- Content Management
Word Processing Software
Some clients require the use of certain word processing programs, file sharing services, collaboration apps, blogging platforms, or website templates. Projects may also require other types of software, such as spreadsheets or video editing. The more of these you already know how to use, the better.
Be sure to list software programs relevant to the job description on your resume, especially if the description specifically states that they are a requirement.
If you can advise your client on which programs, apps, and platforms to use, that is even better.
- Content Management Systems (CMS)
- Microsoft Office
- MS Word
- Document Sharing
- Google Docs
- Word Processing
- DropBox Pro
- Printing Layout
- Document Layout
- Final Manuscript Production
- Marking Color Breaks
- Marking Head Levels
- Working Sketches
Collaboration and Communication
To succeed, you must be able to work effectively with others, even when they are difficult to get along with or understand.
Active listening and assessment skills will go a long way toward building a positive rapport with your clients, no matter what their personality or background.
- Conducting Interviews
- Note Taking
- Project Management
- Emotional Intelligence
- Author Meetings
- Project Coordination
- Verbal Communication
- Written Communication
- Working with Reviewers
Technical Writer Skills
A technical writer prepares instructional and supporting documents to communicate complex technical information in a user-friendly manner.
They develop and gather feedback from customers, designers, and manufacturers to help identify areas of confusion, and present solutions to the design and development teams.
A technical writer is responsible for creating FAQs, charts, images, and training documents that can be easily understood by people in a wide range of backgrounds.
A technical writer must have strong communication skills, along with exceptional writing and grammar skills. A bachelor’s degree in Journalism, English, or Communications is often required. However, some companies require a degree and/or knowledge in a specialized field, like computer science, engineering, or finance.
- Ability to Work Autonomously
- Analyze Information and Draw Conclusions
- Create Diagrams, Drawings, and Charts to Explain Product Usage
- Develop and Maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
- Develop Style Guide
- Ensure Consistency
- Excellent Grammar and Punctuation
- Excellent Planning and Organizational Skills
- Gather User Feedback
- Generate Help Files and FAQs
- Help Users Understand Intricate and Technical Information
- Knowledgeable of Industry Regulations
- Limit Product Complexity
- Maintain and Update Document Library
- Manage Documentation Process
- Multitask Assignments
- Prepare Internal and External Technical Documents
- Provide Solutions to Product Issues
- Review Documents for Completeness and Accuracy
- Standardize Product Content
- Strong Attention to Detail
- Strong Understanding of Product Features and User Needs
- Product Knowledge
- Understand Information Design and Architecture
- Work Closely with Technical and Non-Technical Team Members
- Work Well Under Pressure to Meet Deadlines
- Write and Edit Product Publications
- Write and Organize Instructional Documents
More Writing and Editing Skills
- Identifying Theme
- Omni Media
- Business Storytelling
- Blog Writing
- News Writing
- Print Writing
- Proposal Writing
- Social Media
- Web Writing
- Presentation Writing
- Creative Writing
- Feature Writing
- Magazine Writing
- Inductive Reasoning
- Deductive Reasoning
- Stress Tolerance
- Lie Detection
- Establishing Rapport
- Gauging What Will Interest Readers
- Handling Criticism from Editors and Readers
- Incorporating the Right Data to Support Storylines
- Interviewing Experts
- Protecting the Confidentiality of Sources
- Reading Comprehension
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
Prepare a Portfolio: Besides a traditional resume, you will likely have to provide a portfolio of successfully completed projects and a collection of writing samples when you apply for work as a writer or editor.
Be Ready to Provide Samples: For some positions, you may be asked to submit writing samples in place of or in addition to a cover letter. Choose those projects and writing samples that are most relevant to the client’s project.
Use Skill Words During Job Interviews: In many cases, educational or work history or subject matter are not directly related to writing or editing might be relevant to a particular job or project. Always be on the lookout for the possibility that your special expertise may be relevant.