Editing and Proofreading Tips

Editing and Proofreading Tips

I’m a bit of a whizz at finding fault; just ask my ex-husband. Seriously though, there comes a point where it’s almost impossible for us to see our own mistakes, especially written ones. Grammar and spell-checking tools are useful to a point, but there are so many things they can miss. If you’re in need some of some help editing your proposal, report or other documentation, you may find some of the following tips handy. These are some of the processes I use to edit my own work; you can use them for free or pay me to do it for you.

  • Search the document for similar words
    Your, you’re, their, they’re, there, its, it’s, where, were, wear, for, fore, four, mist, missed, court, caught etc. Homonyms are often missed by the grammar checking tools and easily glazed over by tired eyes. Other tiny words can also be easily overlooked; if, of, the, then, at, an, and, etc. Edit > find and replace is one of my favourite editing actions.
  • Right Click – Synonym
    When you find repetitive words, throughout your document, right click on the over-used word and you’ll (hopefully) seeSynonyms as an option. Just click on Synonyms to see a list of alternative suggestions. If you find a suitable substitute, click on it and Word will magically replace the overused word with your new choice.
  • Read the words out aloud
    This is a mind-expanding experience if you are only accustomed to reading your work silently. You will hear when your words are repetitive, and catch yourself out on poor sentence structure and mismatched ideas. Anyway, you’ll notice which words are heavily over-used and habitual phrasing. You may discover a vast excess of commas or a sentence that goes for five lines. Anyway, nevertheless, you’ll catch yourself out if you frequently begin paragraphs with the same word; e.g. Anyway you will usually notice superfluous words usually such as usually that aren’t usually required and be able to delete them. (Yes, that last bit was deliberately written; read it out aloud for extra effect!) 
  • Get “Ms Mac” to read it out aloud
    “Ms Mac” is brutal. She reads without bias. Every excessive comma, every overused adjective, every extraordinarily long sentence, every misused question mark; when Mrs Mac reads to me, I hear them all!  I’m sure most modern computers have a similar speech function, but you may have to google the instructions.

    1. Make a word document and save as whatever you want to name it.
    2. Save it as a PDF.
    3. Open the PDF in Preview (keep the word doc open too).
    4. In the top menu select EDIT then “select all’, or highlight the section of the PDF you want to hear.
    5. On the top menu choose EDIT again, select ‘speech’ and then select ‘start speaking.’
    6. Ensure the volume is turned up and Ms Mac will read your document to you.
    7. Keep editing the word document while Ms Mac reads to you, (edit > speech > stop speaking is handy if you can’t keep up with her.)
    8. Update the saved version of the PDF
    9. Listen to the document as a whole and make handwritten notes, or make comments on a hard copy.