9 Tips for Self Editing and Proofreading

Before submitting your paper, sending out a professional email, or giving a speech, you need to take some time for editing and proofreading. You don’t want to present your ideas to the world before they’re polished and ready to go. However, editing and proofreading your own work can be difficult. It’s hard to spot issues with your own words, especially after you’ve read them over and over again. To help you get past this, try these 9 tips!

Editing and proofreading with red pen-magoosh

Photo by 3844328

Take Time Away

After spending hours behind the computer, it’s difficult to spot errors. Everything just starts to blend together. To counter this, step away from your computer for a little while. Give yourself a couple of hours or even a whole day before coming back to your work. Then, you’ll have fresh eyes as you review your work.

Eliminate Distractions

As you sit down to start editing and proofreading, eliminate distractions. Turn off your television or music, silence your phone, or move to a quiet location. Make sure that you can focus on reading without allowing outside distractions to creep into your mind, which could make it difficult to remember what you’re reading.

Print Out a Hard Copy

If you’ve been reading your paper on a computer screen, consider printing it out for a fresh take. With a hard copy, you can get a different view that will help you spot mistakes. You can also write on it to help you make revisions right then and there.

Read Your Paper Aloud

Try reading your paper aloud. First, read it to yourself. Then, try reading it to a friend. While reading it aloud, you can hear how the sentences work together. You may find yourself needing to reword sentences or rework entire paragraphs as you discover how it sounds.

Focus on One Thing at a Time

During the revision process, you may need to reread your paper multiple times. Assign yourself something to look for with each reading. On your first reading, you could only look at the punctuation. The next reading could focus on sentence structure, spelling, word choice, style, citations, etc. Then, you can really hone in on each area and make sure that your final paper is polished and ready.

Use Your Resources

Use your resources to make sure that your word choice is spot on throughout your paper. To check for spelling errors, use your word processor’s spellchecker. Then, grab a dictionary. There may be a word that you’re unsure about. Use the dictionary to ensure that you used the correct word. Remember that the spellchecker can only tell you whether or not you spelled a word correctly. It won’t tell you if you used the right word.

Create a Proofreading Checklist

Before you start editing, make a checklist. What do you need to look for as you review your work? Some things on the checklist could be spelling, punctuation, idea development, sentence structure, sentence variety, paragraph transitions, or word choice. After editing the paper, go through your checklist. Did you check for everything on your list? Are you confident that each item was thoroughly reviewed? If not, go back through your work to check for that particular element.

Edit Backwards

Rather than read top to bottom and left to right, try reading bottom to top and right to left. Although this seems ridiculous, this can help you examine each word and punctuation mark you used. You can spot words that don’t make sense, so you can choose the best words within each sentence to convey your ideas.

Concentrate on One Line

Get out a bookmark or ruler to help you with the revision process. As you read line by line, use your tool to cover the rest of your paper. By doing this, you’re forced to concentrate on one line at a time. Then, you can spot any issues on that one line that need to be fixed.

If all else fails with your editing and proofreading process, ask a friend or Magoosh tutor to help you edit and provide constructive feedback. This will help you polish your writing and prepare it for submission, publication, or presentation.

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.