Five Steps to Better Editing

Many people have the misconception that experienced writers always get it right the first time. No one, not even experienced writers who have been writing professionally for years, ever gets it right the first time. Your writing can always be improved because it’s a process. It’s essential to be able to edit your own writing, whether you’re writing your own articles for an article marketing campaign or handling the copy for a website or brochure yourself. Here are five guidelines to help you make sure it’s error-free.

Before editing, take a break. When you first finish writing something, you’re frequently too familiar with the text to recognize your own mistakes. Take a break from a piece of writing before submitting or publishing it. Even though an hour or two may be sufficient, some authors advise setting your first draft aside for at least a day. When you return, you’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes, and you might find mistakes you never would have noticed before.

Read it aloud. On the page, that lengthy, complex sentence might appear fine. Unless you read it out loud, you might miss how awkward it sounds. Read a passage out loud to yourself if you’re unsure of it. Is the language natural-sounding or does it sound stilted? You can identify areas in your writing that may require more attention by reading it aloud.

Never rely on grammar or spell checking. Although it won’t catch everything, your word processor’s spell check program is a helpful tool for identifying spelling errors in a document. It can’t tell the difference between the words “there” and “they’re,” for example-it can tell you if you spell them wrong, but it can’t tell you if you’re using one when you should be using the other. Use spell check, but don’t assume that it will take the place of your own editing. Grammar Check software almost always makes mistakes, so it’s usually best to ignore it.

Change the font. Change the font if you don’t have time to stop and take a break before editing your document. This can fool your brain into thinking you’re looking at something completely foreign, which may enable you to spot mistakes that you might have otherwise missed.

Ask a friend to help. It’s possible to write something down and believe it makes sense, but nobody else will. A different set of eyes may also be able to find grammatical or spelling errors that you were unaware of. Before submitting or publishing your manuscript, always ask a friend to read it and provide feedback.

Important steps in the writing process include editing and proofreading. The best writing is never produced on the first attempt. You’ll increase your chances of consistently sending in well-written, error-free documents if you adhere to these suggestions.

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