How to edit your own copy

Editing your own writing is tough.  It’s almost impossible to pick out your own errors, because you know what you wrote so you read it differently than another person would. These are the steps you can take to try and get your copy flawless and publication-ready.

1. Spellcheck it

Amazingly, many people still don’t use the in-built spellchecker in Microsoft Word and other applications, at least judging by a lot of the copy seen online.  So make sure you use it. Tip: make sure your Language Region is set correctly (to Australian English – the default is US English).

2. PDF it

Save it as a PDF in a different, larger font and read it through. Just the different document format may help refresh you, as words will be in a different place on the page.

3. eBook & Kindle it

Convert your draft to an eBook and put it on your Kindle or other eReader. You’ll spot even more errors this way as it will look less familiar than the original document. Plus you can take it with you to another location, again freshening your eyes.

4. Read it out

Actually reading your work aloud will help you identify further errors, as you can’t skip over words when you’re reading them out. If it’s hard to read aloud, it’s also likely to be hard to read as text. So you may want to simplify certain phrases at this stage.

5. Listen to it

Using a text-to-speech app, let your computer or smartphone “read back” your writing to you. Voice Dream Reader is great for this. It will make some hilarious errors of its own, but you may also find you finally notice “even/ever” “form/from” typos that a spellchecker and your eyes struggle to pick up.

Of course this all relies on you actually having a good grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you don’t then it’s advisable to use a professional editing service. Otherwise you may do yourself a disservice by publishing something that doesn’t reflect your professionalism.