Regardless of who you are or the writing experience you have, you need an editor or at least a friend to help you proof your articles or copy.
It is impossible to catch your own errors, typos, etc. You know what you think you typed, so you read it that way. But is that what shows up on the computer screen in front of you?
The word “your” is a perfect example. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read – and typed – the word “you” when it should have been “your.” Another mistake I’ve made recently is typing concentration instead of concentrating.
I also used the word “memorial” instead of “monument” in a draft of a recent article. Luckily, another person who was familiar with the topic proofed the article and caught my blunder.
Mistakes happen to the best of us. I’ve been reporting and writing for decades, and I still make them. That’s why an editor – or just a friend – is so important to help catch errors.
Ask a friend to take a look at what you’ve written. It may take an extra few minutes, but it may save you some embarrassment.
If a friend – or editor – isn’t available, here are few tips on how to best edit your own copy.
Slow down and take your time – a concept that is sometimes hard to implement when faced with a deadline or time constraint.
Read what you’ve written several times after you have typed it. The first edit should focus on grammar and misspelled or misused words. To best catch those mistakes and typos, read your copy out loud.
The second edit can focus on whether the copy makes sense. How many times have you read an article or an email and wondered what the author really meant to say?
If time allows, give some distance between your readings, like an hour or two. That gives you a chance to walk away, think about something else and then come back more refreshed to look at your writing and catch possible errors.
Finally, don’t forget to check and double-check phone numbers, website addresses and the spelling of people’s names. Those are mistakes you really don’t want to make.
Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).