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Finally, you have finished your article, e-book, white paper, etc. After going through the writing process, the next step is editing and proofreading your work: eliminating irrelevant and superfluous sentences or paragraphs, adding more information to strongly back up a claim and checking any errors whether they’re grammatical, spelling, or typographical. You also have to check the form and structure of your paper and whether there is coherence and smooth transition from one paragraph to another.
Just because you can write doesn’t mean you can be an editor. The editing process is when you determine whether you are able to convey your message effectively to the readers.
Here are eight reasons why you’re bad at editing.
Editing is focused on the structure itself – transition of paragraphs, unity and coherence – while proofreading is more on stylistics matters such as spelling or punctuation errors, spacing and format. Don’t confuse yourself with these concepts.
Read the whole work first before reducing or adding anything. This is also essential when editing other people’s work. You need to familiarize yourself first with the writer’s style and tone and what the whole paper is about before you make any changes.
As you read through the document, you will notice word choice which may not be your personal style. Instead of immediately changing it to suit your taste, reading before editing will give you a good grasp of what the author is trying to convey and how they’re conveying it.
‘Their, there and they’re’ or ‘your and you’re’ are different from each other. Pay extra attention on homonyms since the spell checker won’t even notice the difference. Keep in mind that wrong use of word ruin your credibility entirely.
There will be instances when you’re editing data and figures. There is also a possibility that the inferences made out of those data may have some typographical errors. When you’re not too sure, ask and consult instead of changing it and assuming something. Writing is about presenting factual information, so unless you are sure, don’t make any changes.
Every blog has different style guidelines, for instance some prefer small ‘m’ when spelling out ‘millions’ or use a ‘-‘ when writing ‘e-mail.’ Most blogs, however, use AP Style. Not only do you need to make sure the use of grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct, but also that the formatting stays consistent.
Less is more. As much as possible, delete unnecessary, irrelevant paragraphs that convey the same meaning as the other paragraphs. The important thing is that all paragraphs should support the main objective of the paper and anything that does not add up to the main objective should be removed.
Spell checkers are not 100% accurate and they’re just there to make the Word document clean. You may want to use the word ‘and’ in a sentence but accidentally typed out ‘an.’ Spell check won’t pick up on that.
Editing can be tiring too so don’t hesitate to step away from your computer and refresh your mind for a few minutes. Giving your mind a fresh start can help you better when it comes to editing.
Editing can be a difficult process but once you get used to it, editing may seem like a breeze. Keep in mind that when it comes to editing, you need to present a professional and more polished document to the readers.
Sandra Miller is freelance short story author and graduate of Literature from the NYU, where she wrote for the students journal and tutored students in writing. She recommends authors use professional editing services Help.Plagtracker. Now she is writing her first YA novel.