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While editing and proofreading software helps most of the time, that is just it, most of the time. And although the premium version seemed more advanced and reliable, it should never replace a human proofreader because proofreading and copyediting often involve human element, says Rushang Shah, President of an online editing service Gramlee.com. I agree.There could be a lot of reasons why some of us may not be able to use the services of a professional editor and that’s OK. But is this enough justification for submitting an assignment only good for the trashcan? You’ll annoy your hiring person no doubt, and may not get a return job (still fair enough, provided your reputation is intact). I’ll say keep your reputation. This is how to edit and proofread your writing and/or written manuscripts.
Before we get into the real deal…
Instances When You will/may/may not Require a Professional Editor
Depending on the volume of the project (and you know with a large volume of typing comes large chunks of errors), the budget and the type of writing involved, you’ll definitely need a proofreader who’ll improve your writing and OK it for submission. Take, for instance as a creative writer, you got a contract to write a 10000-word short story. If the budget assigned to this task will leave you with enough for the efforts you’ve put into it, I’ll strongly recommend you get a proofreader. And it isn’t a must it should be a paid one. If you’ve someone close by — whom you’ve watched edited pieces in the past at a professional level — engage them.
Take, for instance as a creative writer, you got a contract to write a 10000-word short story. If the budget assigned to this task will leave you with enough for the efforts you’ve put into it, I’ll strongly recommend you get a proofreader. And it isn’t a must it should be a paid one. If you’ve someone close by — whom you’ve watched edited pieces in the past at a professional level — engage them.
One instance you may not need an editor is when writing your regular blog posts. You do a lot of them and having each post pass through a paid proofreader can’t be economical to you (but if it is, do get one). Otherwise, if you have a friend, a family member, etc., who are versed and skilled in the understanding and the use of English language, plus who will do the proofreading for FREE or for a lesser fee, my bet.
Overall this will depend on your skill level and the eventual destination of the blog posts. If the blog post is some kind of a guest post, you may consider getting an editor/ a proofreader. For your personal blog, you may have explanations for the choice and use of some words, which you can even modify as you like. However, for a guest blog not professionally proofread, there are only three possibilities:
(i) It’s either your post is not accepted by the publication at all or rather it’s accepted but will never be published.
(ii) If luckily the post goes live, there might be cases of readers bouncing off without reading pass the first-second paragraph. And if you’re twice unlucky, they get to troll you.
(iii) And lastly, whatever intentions you had for writing that guest post might eventually not be realized. That means wasted efforts and time. Who wants such?
What Does It Mean, or How Does It Look Like Having a Professional Proofreader to Proofread One’s Work?
An act of improving and optimizing a written piece for (or against)
> Idea coherence
> Idea consistency
> Grammatical errors
> Incorrect use of regional language
> Intended meaning and reader’s understanding etc., is what is known as proofreading/editing.
What for a Proofreader? Particularly Any Reason Why I Need One?
> Without proofreading your work you’ll appear like a mediocre writer that nobody wants to be associated with.
> You’ll not be taking seriously.
> If it’s an assignment, as in a contracted freelancing task, you might not be paid. Even worse you might be blacklisted!
> Your credibility and reputation as a writer then come under a question mark.
> You would’ve denied yourself any chance of a repeat job or a referral.
> If it’s some kind of publication (or not — being that even the internet does not forgive, neither does it forget) — you might be missing out, on, say many opportunities to be featured in top publications going forward. Because if they must go by your previous writings on the web, but although you’ve improved, you don’t fit in).
> Your potential clients may stumble across your works online. Don’t doubt it: some persons really have all the time in the world to do a background check, especially if a lot of bucks is involved.
What Are the Skills or Qualities That My Editor Should Have?
> Eagle eye
> English Skills
> Writing experience (preferably an editor who has done enough of your type of writing).
How Then Do I Become My Own Editor and Proofreader and Be The Best At It?
Your need for a proofreader could stem off the fact that English is not your first language. Or really English is your first language but then you don’t feel your proficiency is up to par. But what if I let you know that you can do your own proofreading and editing? What if you could do a thorough job, too? I’ve found some proofreading techniques to be working so I think sharing is caring. Here and now is how to edit and proofread your writing…
While you were editing, few of the issues you should pay attention to are misspelled words, a dictionary will help here anyway. Fix up missing words. Go for unnecessary adjectives, run on sentences and unclear or unfounded claims etc. Remember you’re proofreading your work for the most insignificant detail that can give you out, hence one good reason nothing should be brushed off or brushed aside.
If you’ll be doing a thorough job at proofreading, it’s just so you know, that you’ll first need to know the difference between an editor and a proofreader. Next, you’ll have to separate writing from editing and editing from proofreading. If you want to write, write and be done with writing. Follow afterward, hours later, with editing. If you come up with edits/revisions, text or email them to yourself. Then going running. Do chores. Take your mind off writing for a while and allow your brain to reset. Get fresh eyes whatever that gives you that, and get prepared for proofreading proper.
Now that you’re ready to proofread your work, get rid of all distractions and potential interruptions and get settled with 100% concentration. You could shut the door. You can do away with your cell phone. Turn off all notifications and programs running on your computer. And If you need to totally do away with your computer, please do. As one way, you could print out your document.
Having printed out your document or perhaps you feel there’s no need for that, now approach the document like you would if you were to be the reader, or like you’re reading such manuscript for the very first time. That way you’ll be able to objectively assess your work.
Read through slowly. Make passes for each word, each sentence. (if you are proofing on a paper, you could follow the lines with your pen or something; if on a screen, your finger can do).
Read words out aloud. Read it out to someone. You could read into a text-to-speech app (and there are a lot of them, even free ones like naturalreaders.com and ttsreader.com) and get to listen to your text — this time as a sound. It can be amazing how easily your ears pick up what your eyes did not. Missing words especially.
So if it feels like you’re done with the forward style (i.e your proofing started on the first paragraph and ended on the last), can you then reverse this style just so you start reading from bottom up? You can read your document backward sentence by sentence, can’t you? This way you get to see sentences on their own and catch errors in grammar and syntax more easily.
Any sentence whose contextual meaning isn’t clear or clear enough? Are there lines that didn’t flow? The rule I follow is, if in doubt, throw it out. If you’re pondering on a line for too long, best you remove and rework it. And if the intended meaning is understood by you alone, it probably will be misunderstood by a lot of people. I’ve always believed there’s always a way to make words more meaningful and less ambiguous.
While at all of these, be sure to keep an eye on yourself. Get familiar with frequent mistakes. If you find yourself lost in thought, or your eyes are beginning to betray you, please go over and read the last section again before considering giving yourself a break. So when you then feel you’re back in full control, get back and continue your proofreading.
Another thing you can always do anytime you’re proofreading documents is to change their fonts. This way, subconsciously, you’ll get to look at it differently and spot things you never noticed before.
If you make a last-minute change to few words, be sure to look over the entire sentence or paragraph again.
Up above I gave some practical guides on how to successfully edit and proofread your writing. Personally, I’ve used them to edit and proofread my documents. They’ve worked for me and a whole lot of other people as well. Do you fear it’s hard to proofread your own work? Do you hate proofreading your own work? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from not proofing your work? Are there other tricks you’re using to edit and proofread your work that you’ll like to share with me? Use the comment box.
Sam is a freelance content writer. He blogs at 1stclasswriters.com where he shares his knowledge and experience about the freelance writing business. When Sam is not writing, he could be on his social channels chatting up like minds.