Proofreading and Editing Tips to Improve Your Writing
The best way to achieve better writing is through daily writing and reading, but proofreading and editing are near the top of the list too.
If you want to improve your writing, it’s imperative that you review each piece to check for typos, mistakes, context, and tone.
Creative writing tips often fail to mention the mechanical side of writing. It’s fun to focus on language, plot, characters, and rhymes, but polishing your work diligently will make you a better writer. And once you nail grammar and develop a habit of proofreading, you can focus on coming up with creative writing ideas rather than worrying about the technical aspects of your work.
Proofreading and Editing Tips
These proofreading tips and reminders will help you produce better writing – work that is polished and professional but still creative and compelling.
Catch Your Typos
Nobody likes typos. They look like misspellings, only it’s usually obvious they are mere oversights, the result of tapping the wrong key. It happens a lot when writers rush, and it happens a lot less when writers proofread their work before submitting or publishing it. Most writers are going to miss a typo every now and then; nobody’s perfect. However, when you read a writer’s work regularly and typos are just something you expect every time, that’s a sign of poor or nonexistent proofreading.
Read Out Loud
One of the best ways to edit and proofread your work is to read it out loud. If you enunciate every word, you’ll be better able to catch mistakes. It’s common for writers to leave words out while composing a first draft. During a review, the mind automatically inserts those words because the writer knows they’re supposed to be there. Reading out loud will help catch missing words. Oft-repeated words often stand out while reading aloud as well. It’s also helpful for determining whether a piece lacks clarity or if phrasing doesn’t sound quite right. It’s your chance to make sure everything makes sense and ensure that the language flows smoothly.
Proofread to Perfection
I’ve been teased for being so enthusiastic about proofreading and editing. Yet if I want to produce better writing, shouldn’t I keep reviewing each piece until I don’t catch a single error or need to make any more changes? Sometimes I reread a piece once and everything’s fine. Other times, I go over it five times, maybe ten. I proofread and polish everything I write — usually more than once.
Don’t Make Excuses
Young and new writers often have issues with revision and proofreading. I don’t want to change the original, they’ll claim. That’s like a furniture maker not bothering to sand a table. If you’re truly attached to that first draft, then save a copy, but don’t get so sentimental that you go and submit or publish it with all its errors and imperfections.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Even though editing and proofreading are important to your professionalism and essential for better writing, they aren’t everything. Mistakes slip through now and then, and you shouldn’t beat yourself over the head about it. Great writing will always outshine the occasional error.
Proofreading and Editing Habits
Editing and proofreading have become habitual steps in my writing process, and I’ve come to enjoy this part of the process since I now know that it leads to better writing.
Every time I fix a mistake, I feel good about it, knowing I just improved my writing and made it more readable. That’s another thing — proofreading is considerate to readers. Typos, misspellings, and poorly placed punctuation marks throw readers off and jar them from the flow of a piece. So don’t skip the revision process: proof, edit, and repeat. Then, if necessary, do it again!
Do you have any better writing or proofreading tips to share? Please leave a comment.