Does your writing need a second set of eyes?
Do you make grammatical mistakes that you read over and over but don’t “see”?
Does your writing need a second set of eyes? Do you make grammatical mistakes that you read over and over and don’t “see”? Are you just not sure when and how to correctly use commas, quotation marks and ellipses?
Well, let’s examine “proofreading” and “copy editing” a bit and see what steps might help you bypass some of the proofreading woes.
First of all, a copy editor reviews the material and makes certain that it’s easily readable, accurate, and error-free. In the editorial process, “copy editing” includes checking grammar usage, spelling, punctuation and possibly even doing a re-write if needed. This process is done prior to “proofreading.”
Then, after it’s gone through the editing process, a proofreader examines the text you’ve written, usually comparing it to another version or set of information, looking for typos or minor errors that weren’t fixed in editing. Corrections are indicated, then returned for changes to be made and a newer version created. (On the way to “final copy,” there might be several proofing steps initiated to ensure total accuracy.)
So, as you’re using your creative mind to craft the written word, remember these few “helpful hints” to get you on your way to the copy editor and/or proofreader:
- Have someone in mind (a friend or team member) who would be willing to read over your work before you send it on for editing/proofing. If you try to proofread your own work, you will likely miss mistakes that you have made.
- When you begin to write, don’t be too “wordy.” If you go on and on about your topic, you run the risk of “losing” your reader’s interest before you’ve made your point.
- Similarly, don’t let your sentences be longer than they need to be. Shorter sentences are much easier to read—and you won’t lose your reader’s focus.
- Don’t use a sentence fragment! Make certain that your sentence not only has a subject (noun), but also an “action” (verb). Example: The pretty red plant in the ceramic pot. This sentence has only a subject (plant) with all of its modifiers, but there is no verb.
- Double-check your use of words like “affect” and “effect,” “principal” and “principle,” “ensure” and “insure,” “altar” and “alter,” “accept” and “except,” “there” and “their,” “can” and “may,” “any more” and “anymore,” “capital” and “capitol,” “peak and “peek” … and the list goes on and on!
- Absolutely use a dictionary (or the online dictionary.com) to check words that you’re not certain how to spell or use. If you do this as you’re writing, you’ll save yourself some editing time.
- Review your work for incorrect use of apostrophes. This is one of the most common errors … in creative writing and even on signs and billboards! Watch for mistakes like “mens hockey,” “open five day’s each week,” “as the season’s change,” “buy handbag’s and accessories,” “we serve snack’s,” “one of the best company’s to work for,” “canopy’s for sale,” “spring is on it’s way,” “best rib’s in town,” … and again, the list goes on and on!
- Yes, you can use “spell check” to search for mistakes—but don’t depend on everything it tells you. It frequently gives wrong information because it doesn’t comprehend the “context” of everything you’ve written, and it may recommend changing something that results in yet another error.
- After you’ve completed composing your text, step away from it. Breathe and take a break before you re-read it. Then, when you look it over, you’ll be taking a “fresh” look from a new vantage point … reading it as though you were a stranger.
- Don’t just quickly scan your text—read each line separately to search for errors. Be sure to make this an essential step before the proofing process. You may find it helpful to use a blank sheet of paper or a ruler to cover up the lines below the one being read.
- Then, take a minute to read the text aloud … and read each word slowly and clearly. To “see your text with new eyes” and catch spelling errors, try reading the sentences backwards!
- If and when you find mistakes, notice if you’re making the same ones over and over. Then, jot down those blunders and use them for reference in your next writings.
- Don’t send your paper for editing corrections at the sentence level if you still need to work on the focus, organization and development of the paper as a whole.
The bottom line:
The accuracy and effectiveness of your written thoughts is very important to your credibility … and/or that of your business. One error could tarnish your image for the reader. But if your text has been properly edited, proofed and revised, it can set in motion a chain of events that culminates in attracting and holding the attention of your targeted audience.