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How to Avoid the Most Common Editing Mistakes
When trying to promote your product or just writing for a blog, publishing content with grammar, spelling or stylistic mistakes can be really damaging to your reputation. Not only does it sounds childish but is also a bad publicity for you and your business.
Editing is what you’ll definitely need to do to make your content sound and look correct, logical and structured. But editing is not easy: it requires time and effort to learn how to make content look and sound perfect.
Thus, if you’re an editing rookie, it’s important to know how to avoid the most common mistakes while editing. To save you time spent in endless research, I’ve gathered together the most useful tips and tools to help you notice even the tiniest mistakes and become an editing professional.
Tips to Avoid Common Editing Mistakes
1. Read it twice
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve written a seemingly spotless article, published it and spotted a mistake?
If you think you know your content well, think again. It’s almost impossible to get too familiar with the content.
The problem is that we are all bad proofreaders because of our biological nature. Francis Heylighen, a professor at the Free University of Brussels in his article about the anticipation control theory of mind, explains that whenever our brain spots the same stimuli that it has experienced before it uses “already existing experience to anticipate the upcoming stimuli.”
As you can see, your apparent inattentiveness is biologically proven. But it’s not excused. If you’re in doubt about the correctness of your content, ask someone else to read your work. A fresh look will definitely help spot even tiny mistakes.
2. Don't trust your spell checker
If you have a long-term relationship with your spell checker, you should reconsider trusting it completely.
Your spell checker has probably already failed at some point, leaving you with some spelling and grammatical mistakes, which you blamed yourself for.
Use multiple spell checkers to make sure that you’ve spotted every mistake. Microsoft Word spell checker shouldn’t be trusted completely, so pair it with some online spell checking tools or additional desktop apps. A list of such tools is provided below.
3. Avoid improper use of words
When your spelling is checked, some grammatical mistakes can be left unnoticed.
Your readers need high-quality content, but grammar blunders can instantly damage your reputation and cost you regular readers and customers.
A list of common grammar mistakes includes confusing fewer and less, your and you’re, it’s and its, who and whom, and much more. In order to avoid them, check everything very thoroughly. Or, again, ask someone to help you.
4. Read it out loud
Pronouncing every word out loud while reading your content can help you spot small mistakes. And, if you are in doubt about spelling, you can spell every letter of the word to check its correctness.
So, if you are and auditory type of person, reading the content out loud is a good method for checking and editing. But make sure you don’t bother anyone.
If you want to learn how to edit like a pro, you may want to try printing the content you need to check and edit.
A recent Dartmouth study found that while reading on a computer screen can help you spot details, reading printed materials can help you better understand abstract notions. So, in order to check your content extensively, print it out instead of just reading it on a screen.
6. Use a ruler under each line
Remember when you were just starting to learn to read and a teacher advised you to use a ruler under each line of text? This tip actually works even for experienced editors.
When you’ve already printed the article to proofread it, try using a ruler under each line. This will help you avoid distractions while reading and help you to “stay in line”.
7. Avoid inconsistencies
When reading the content, some inconsistencies may sneak under the radar and remain unchecked.
Such inconsistencies includes date formats (it’s important to maintain the same way of writing dates throughout the text), the use of symbols vs. words (you should be consistent in using either “+” or “plus” throughout), and much more.
8. Syntax mistakes
Check that all words in a sentence are in the proper order.
It’s well-known that English has definite word order, involving a subject followed by a predicate, followed by an object. But there are things like inversions that are also acceptable in English syntax, so make sure that all words are in the correct place.
9. Style is important
Maintaining the same style throughout the text is crucial.
Inserting colloquialisms into a scientific article is definitely not acceptable. Make sure that the same style is maintained throughout the text.
10. Proofreading vs. Editing
Don’t confuse these two terms.
Editing is all about correcting the text with an opportunity to re-write it, while proofreading is just a final check.
These are two different stages of your editing work with different tasks for you to do in each.
Tools to Avoid Common Editing Mistakes
- Grammarly: this is one of the most famous tools to check spelling, grammar and the general style of the content you’re editing. You can download a desktop app or use the resource online. Simply download the software, and it will correct everything, up to every comma and question mark.
- Assignmenthelper: this website offers lots of writing tools, grammar and stylistic guides along with a blog about editing, where you will find lots of interesting information.
- GitBook: this online tool is essential for editors. This recently upgraded tool has all necessary features for proofreading, includes 30 dictionaries for perfect spellchecking as well as fast performance.
- GrammarCheck: this is one of the top online grammar checkers. Simply copy your text and insert it into the special section on the website. You can either choose free check or deep check, if necessary.
- 1Checker: this is a free resource to check grammar and spelling, and it offers downloadable plugins for Microsoft Word, Outlook and your browser.
Now, with all necessary tools and tips at hand, it will be easier for you to edit and proofread all your content. However, you should understand that it requires a lot of time, effort and patience to edit to a professional level.
So take your time: a willingness to learn will lead you to success. Be persistent, get motivated and remember that there are no limits to learning. Good luck!
About the Author
Lucy Benton is a writing coach and an editor who finds her passion in expressing her own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise.