Editing, Proofreading and Revising your Writing

Proofreading

After having spent time planning your work, the idea of revisiting it, checking and editing may seem pointless. Don’t be tempted to just print off your work and send it away, or whatever you plan to do with it. It is imperative that you check your work and re-read everything. This is known as ‘proofreading’. You will be amazed at how you will want to change it and how you can improve it. Never try to proofread, edit or revise immediately after you have finished writing your article.

If you have other writing projects running, move onto one of them and start writing on a different subject. This will allow you to ‘forget’ the article somewhat. This will be invaluable when you go to re-read it. Most writers find it best to leave a few days between writing an article and revisiting it, for this reason. If time is of the essence then most writers believe you should leave a minimum of 30 minutes before proofreading your work.

If you try to revisit it immediately, you will find it very difficult to improve the prose or even to find errors. Your mind will be telling you what you believe you wrote instead of allowing you to see what is actually written on the page.

What you should check for:

Whay not take a look at 5 Tips to Help You Get the Most From Proofreading for more proofreading tips.

Find out about homophones and eggcorns and how they could trip you up.

Editing

Since it’s your own work, you can afford to be very critical. Cut out any paragraphs, or words that don’t add value to the article or may cause confusion. Ask yourself: have you achieved what you set out to achieve? Is your writing clear? Could it be read in more than one way? Is there too much, or too little of it?

It is important that you practice revising your writing and experiment with changing the length and rhythm of your paragraphs and sentences without losing or changing the original intent. If you intend to sell your work, many editors will require articles or stories of specific lengths. This may mean you have to be more efficient with your wording. Editing and proofreading your writing will allow you to do this.

Automated Checkers

Most software applications or word processing packages, that you will be using, have some kind of automated checking or assistance tools built-in. These include things like spell checkers, grammar checkers or even a thesaurus. Most writers embrace the value of these tools and rely upon them to help keep the quality of their writing high. Some, however, see the modern over-reliance upon them as a contributing factor in a degrading general literacy standard. If you see them as a valuable tool to assist you, if used properly and wisely, then there are a few things you need to remember. Don't fall into the trap of believing they are the key to curing every writing ill.

Have a look at some points concerning computer spell checkers and grammar checkers that you will need to bear in mind.

Version Control

When you're in the process of updating, editing and revising your work, it's always advisable to try and retain old versions of your work. If you're a technical writer or freelancer, this is particularly important, as you never know when you might need to revert to an older version. Have a look at our page on version control for more information and ideas.

Reference Books

Keep a reliable set of reference publications to hand so you can check spelling, grammar usage or style as you edit your work. There is a myriad of reference books or software applications out there that can help you but we've linked to a few of our favourites on our Reference Books page.