As a writer, you might find it hard to go back and look over your own content. This is common – many of us have little time to read and edit. In fact, that is why most newsrooms and websites will offer an editorial position on their staff. Having someone who can edit work, refine it, and make sure that everything is accurate and adjusted is very important.
If you wish to go about editing and proofreading, though, you need to find a strategy that works. Here, then, are five proofreading strategies worth considering.
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Take your editing in parts
Whether it is a book, an academic paper, or a journal article, you need to take your time with editing. Break it down into chunks. Chapters for books, sections and headings for papers, and 500-600 word chunks for articles. Break it down, take it slow, and forensically analyze every section as much as you can.
The more time that you can take to get the proofreading just right, the more likely it is that the results will be worth your time. Avoid rushing this, though; forensic editing is always more worthwhile than fast-paced, rushed editing.
Focus on the headings, too
Of course, while proofreading, most of the time we simply look for errors and mistakes. This, though, is the wrong approach. Instead, you should be looking for something that can make headings better. Read the text over, then look at the heading…does it really convey the message you intended?
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Try and write three headings, and then read back the content within the context of that actual heading. You will gain a much better understanding of how good the heading actually is, and whether or not it will truly fit in with the message you wish to put forward.
Read it out aloud
Another beneficial tool that you could use to your advantage is to read the content out loud and into the room. What is the general consensus – do people think that it sounds good? Does it sound limited or minimized? Do you think it might need something a bit more to make it stand out?
When you read text back out aloud, you get a different perspective on it. Free from the trap of your mind, you can more readily understand your content and what it sounds like simply by reading it out loud.
Don’t proofread right away
Lastly, make sure you don’t proofread anything that you have written within one or two days of writing it. You will have ideas crammed into your head at this phase, and you might find it hard to come up with something that sounds 100% right. You might therefore want to give it a bit of time to settle in your mind; then you can return with a different mindset and mentality.
Not only will you spot mistakes, but it will ensure you can easily work around clumsy wording and terminology more effectively.
Isolate problematic content
Instead of trying to edit a tough paragraph in the context of everything around it, copy-paste it into a new section entirely. You can then take a look at this in isolation. Often, we get too caught up trying to make our content flow like lyrics. Instead of making that mistake, you should definitely take the time to try and isolate the problematic pieces within the writing and then tackle them individually.
Use these proofreading strategies, and you might find it a bit easier to see results come to life in a way that you can genuinely appreciate and benefit from.