“[Copy] editors know that the catch with machines checking spelling is that if it’s a legitimate word, the machine smiles, oblivious to whether it’s the right word in context. ‘Lemon aide’? Well sure. ‘Lemon’ and ‘aide’ are both real words. But can one enjoy a cool glass of ‘lemon aide’ in the garden?” — Gypsy da Silva
While there are some who take delight in editing and proofreading, for many it’s an arduous task.
Editing includes …
First there’s proofreading by checking:
That’s not too bad, right?
Usually overlooked, consistency might review for the following in writing:
- Usage of contractions vs. no contractions
- Verb tenses in sentence-to-sentence
- Abbreviations (United States or US)
- Punctuation with abbreviations (USA or U.S.A.)
- British Spelling (colour) vs. American Spelling (color)
Piece of cake!
In style, the grammar and spelling may be technically correct and consistent, but it may lack style. You might edit for the following:
- Clarity (descriptive vs. vague or excessive use of jargon)
- Tone (the mood of the piece)
- Verbiage (such as remove redundant phrases)
- Wordiness (such as the overuse of filler words like “that” and “which”)
- Voice (passive or active and personality)
Okay, things are really starting to heat up …
Is the formatting and content structure consistent? Format reviews might include the following questions:
- Does it use headers?
- Does it use lists appropriately?
- Is it appropriately sequential, categorical, chronological, causal, etc.?
- If it tells a story, does it follow an arc (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement)?
Some people are probably shifting uncomfortably in their seats right now … If that’s you, bear with us. If you’re as happy as a clam at high tide, then rock on!
If you do all of the above proofreading and editing checks, that’s incredible! The truth is: Most people don’t. And that’s okay! Most people will perform the proofreading steps and call it a day. Others will dabble a little in style reviews. For those serious about breaking into the professional publishing scene, they may hire someone to proofread and edit their content.
There’s no shame in asking or hiring someone to edit your articles. Often, the writer is too close to their work to see where improvements can be made, they lack the time to perform the review, or editing is just not their strong suit.
This brings us to a few discussion points we’d like to kick start today:
- How much do you edit your articles?
- Do you have someone proofread your articles? Why or why not?
- If you answered yes, do you also have them make the necessary changes?
- Also, is it a friend, family member, colleague, or someone from a professional editing service?
- If you proofread your own articles, are there any areas you wish you could have a little help?
Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!