Essential Editing and Proofreading Tips & Tricks to Become a Better Writer
By Julie Peterson
If you’ve ever tried to edit your own work, you know how challenging it can be. You end up missing way more mistakes than if you were editing someone else’s work because you simply don’t see them. You know what you’ve written, so it’s hard to imagine reading it for the first time. But editing skills are an essential part of being a great writer. These 10 tips will help you become a better editor so you can be a fantastic writer!
- Proofread LAST
It can be tempting to proofread your work as you write. Your fingers slip up on the keyboard, you write completely the wrong word, or you miss a space when you needed one. But don’t stop to proofread until you are finished writing.
- If you make last minute changes, edit the whole paragraph again
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you need to modify something, don’t just assume that once you make the modification, the rest of the paragraph is still ok. Recheck the whole thing to make sure the new word doesn’t change the meaning of anything else.
- Take notes as you write
If you need to look anything up, wait until you are finished writing to do so. When you stop and start, you’re more likely to make mistakes, and you’re less likely to get the content you were hoping for. A great tip is to highlight the pieces you need to come back to in red (and maybe make them bold).
- Edit twice
Break up the editing process into pieces. The first pass, edit for technical; things like spelling, spacing, and grammar. Then, edit for clarity, flow, content, etc. You can add more passes depending on the kinds of errors you need to check for or the complexity of the writing.
- Don’t forget the “Extras”
It’s easy to forget to edit things like the title of your article, the headers and sub-headers and the footnotes, but these components are all just as important as the written content. Check everything on the page.
- Use Editing Tools
Don’t do this entirely on your own. There are some great online tools that can make the editing process much easier.
Polish my Writing (aka, After the Deadline) checks your content for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and clarity errors.
Help.plagtracker.com is another site you can hire to help with editing your content. As a bonus, they also crosscheck your work with thousands of websites to prevent plagiarism.
Hemingway Editor evaluates your writing to point out any wordy or hard to understand sentences, so you can rewrite them to make them clear.
Ninja Essays is a content writing and editing service. If you don’t trust yourself to catch your own mistakes, you can hire the editors at Ninja Essays to do the editing for you.
The Readability Test Tool determines how easily most people could understand your writing. You’ll get a grade level. You want something around grade 6-8.
Pro Writing Aid lets you type in your content and corrects your work as you go. As a huge bonus, you can also use the program with Google Docs and Word.
- Check facts separately
Once you have finished writing, it’s time to do your research. Hopefully, you kept notes of things you needed to look up. Now is the time to go back and look everything up. Any facts that you’re not sure of, spelling that you hesitated on, and anything else that requires an Internet connection should be checked before you start manually editing.
- Slow down!
Speed is often overlooked. Once you’re done writing, you want to steam through the editing and proofreading process. But you need to edit SLOWLY. Your eyes will easily miss errors because they are your errors and your mind will read whatever you meant to write, not necessarily, what you actually did write.
- Check for Common Errors First
Do you have a mistake you make over and over again? Is there a word your fingers always mistype or that you frequently misuse? If you know you likely have a specific error, you can use the “find” tool to search for it before you do the rest of your edit.
- Check Formatting Last
Once your entire article is written, edited, and proofread, you can start the formatting process. There’s no point in formatting before you start modifying the text, since it could end up changing the format.
Editing your own writing is rife with difficulty! But it doesn’t have to be impossible. These tools will improve the process and help your edit your own writing like a pro.
Julie Petersen is a English language tutor and a content marketing specialist. As the author of AskPetersen essay writing blog she regularly posts helpful guides, articles and samples for students. Read her latest posts about FreshEssays and EssayTigers reviews. Contact Julie on Linkedin.