Self-Help: Proofreading / Editing

The last post I shared with you here had come with a promise that there will be more steps to consider on the same subject; namely, self-editing. The intent of this writing is the same as the previous one: To help you to form a habit toward “proofreading” and, as an outcome, “copy editing” your draft text – regardless of the genre. The more involved process of “content editing” will be addressed in a different post.

  • A large amount of style guides are available online through respectable sites. Identify one (or more) about which you have a positive (i.e. trusting) feeling. Read it (or them) carefully. You will find that you are able to catch grammatical errors on your text you might otherwise overlook. For you are now familiar with an overview of potential mistakes, which you also have readily available at your fingertips when your selected style guide is concerned.
  • Apply a merciless fact-check on your written work. Then, double check. And, second-guess.
  • Make sure your draft flows by concentrating on the length of your sentence structures. Seek variation. Sentences should not appear as cookie-cutters.
  • Pay attention to the amount of your use of certain words (such as “or”, “perhaps”, “and” and “in fact / in actuality”). This attentive reading will help you to achieve a smoother flow in your text.
  • Keep a dictionary handy. At least a few times as you read, single out a word and spot-check to make sure its spelling is correct. By getting into a habit of doing so, you may catch an error along the way.
  • After you have done all you can with your draft, have someone else to review it in an active reading mode. Not to merely do a scan-reading, but rather to go over it attentively / critically.
  • If at all possible, designate a reading partner who would be willing to exchange editing with you.