Lessons Learned: Editing Your Work

One of the frustrations as a writer is to publish a story or a document and then find out a few days later that a word is misspelled, used incorrectly, or added in error. What’s even more frustrating is when two or three people edit your work, and they miss the error as well. A few days ago, I found a mistake in one of my chapters that the copy editor missed. Of course when I read through it again, the misspelled word stuck out like a big, blinking neon sign across the page. Luckily I’m still in the editing stage and corrected the word immediately.

Errors are unfortunate, but they do occur. The material becomes too familiar, and you glaze over the words because you know what’s coming. You power read. Sometimes you spell it right, but your software autocorrects what you’ve typed. Or, you don’t catch the correction because the word sounds the same or similar to what you wanted. I’ve found that sometimes copy/paste can be a nightmare in disguise.

At work, we always had one other person plus an editor proof read the material. A couple of tricks that I learned may help you find those errors. A few of those tricks include:

*Line read – place a blank piece of paper (an envelope works great) under the line of the document that you’re reading. This covers the lines on the remaining page so you’re not distracted by what’s to come.

*Read each word in a paragraph or sentence backwards (E.g., edit the first paragraph in this blog as ‘immediately’, ‘word’, ‘the’, ‘corrected’, and so on).

* Increase the font size on a page, complete your proof reading, and then change the font back to the correct setting.

* Zoom out the page view to 200% so each word is super large.

And if you find an error after it’s published, fix it right away. Don’t stew about it. Don’t point out the error to your buddies and claim your embarrassment to the world. Just make the corection and forget about it. Most times this works. If not, apologize for the error and state it’s been corrected.

And remember, blogs, tweets (see now that could’ve been misspelled as twit), and text are less formal. You will find more errors in those because words and grammer doesn’t have to be perfect. Right? 🙂

Did you find my errors in this blog?