The 7 Sweeps of Copy Editing

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  • Post published:September 4, 2022
  • Post category:Marketing

You might have heard people talk about shitty first drafts and masterful editing.

About how one can refine their writing to go from bland to beautiful.

But most people don’t know exactly what that means.

Spoiler alert: It’s more than just taking a long, hard look & proofreading.

Let’s discuss editing today. And all that comes with it.

I’ll take you through my favourite copy (& content) editing method I learned from copyhackers. I’ve been in love ever since because it is so useful even if you’re short on time.

Let’s get right into it…

It’s called the 7 sweeps. Sweeps meaning quickly reading your copy from top to bottom to find inconsistencies based on these seven elements.

Here are the 7 sweeps:

1. Clarity sweep

2. Voice & tone sweep

3. So what sweep

4. Prove it sweep

5. Specificity sweep

6. Heightened emotion sweep

7. Zero risk sweep

#1 The Clarity Sweep

Meme Know GIF by Hyper RPG
Source: GIPHY

 

Your copy might sound confusing or is failing to get a point across. This is the sweep to change that.

If you don’t get it immediately, chances are your readers won’t either. And there goes your prospect.

Make sure your words, sentences & overall messaging is easily digestible and clear for every reader.

#2 Voice & tone sweep

scared schitts creek GIF by CBC
Source: GIPHY

 

This is the sweep to determine whether you sound on-brand or not.

Your vocabulary, tone & cadence can determine it.

If your copy is fun & casual, is it sounding like your brand or your competitor’s brand? This is the sweep for that.

#3 So what sweep

Comedy Central Whatever GIF by Alternatino with Arturo Castro
Source: GIPHY

 

This is the benefit or value sweep. If you’re talking about your product or service’s advantage, ask yourself so what after each line.

If you cannot answer it, add a so what induced benefit or outcome or remove the sentence altogether.

The ultimate goal is to tie every line of your copy to the outcome your reader wants.

#4 Prove it sweep

Prove It Killian Scott GIF by Dublin Murders
Source: GIPHY

 

This is the sweep to show that you aren’t full of bullshit. That you actually know what you’re doing. 

Showing reviews, ratings, authority bars, or testimonials is advised, but you can also do more because proving it means backing up with authority or claims.

For Eg: If you say something is very healthy, don’t just show reviews where people say so. Show ingredients that speak for themselves.

#5 Specificity sweep

season 2 episode 21 GIF by Twin Peaks on Showtime
Source: GIPHY

 

This is where you get down to nitty gritties. It’s where you remove filler words like really, very, more, better, and so on…

Because nobody knows what that means.

More sales can mean a million different things but saying 12% more sales in less than 6 months is specific.

Even if you don’t have numbers, do it with something else.

You obviously cannot cut all filler words. 

Get more _____ is still a great headline for the right prospect but try to reduce & replace it with more tangible outcomes.

#6 Heightened emotion sweep

emotional justina machado GIF by Red Table Talk
Source: GIPHY

 

This is the time to get a little melodramatic about the transformation or outcomes your customers want.

Maybe, even problems they have.

Simply put, your copy should align with the reader’s emotion.

The goal is to visualize, emphasize or make people FEEL something that takes them a step closer to the desired action.

For Eg: If something is very unmanageable, use words like chaos or burnout to heighten the emotion that your reader is feeling.

#7 Zero risk sweep

usher risk GIF
Source: GIPHY

 

If you have a risk reversal guarantee like money-back, refunds, or something similar, this problem practically solves itself.

But there are other cases where the risk for your reader might be putting in:

-Time

-Effort

-Energy 

The trick is to sweep your copy for words that sound tedious. The ones that make your reader feel like they need to do something significant to achieve an outcome. 

Even the slightest of friction words can result in people bouncing off.

Here is a link to copyhackers training that’ll help you learn about all the seven sweeps.

On that note,

Do you think this seven sweeps technique is wonderful for editing?

Let me know by replying back!

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