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How I Self-Edit My Work as a Proofreader and Editor (Quickly!)

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Here are 3 tips you can use today to self-edit your writing quickly and accurately.

I get it – you're busy! Sometimes you need a quick-and-dirty-way to make sure that you're not sending off that email full of embarrassing errors.

You need to get that blog or social media post up – stat! And while I'm an advocate for taking your time and being thorough (it's my peanut butter and jelly), in some cases, that time just isn't there. No worries!

Try these 3 tips to quickly and accurately proofread your writing.

1. Change your proofing language.

Did you know that you can change your proofing language in Microsoft Word? This is especially important if you work with clients in multiple English-speaking countries with different spelling and punctuation rules (ie the UK vs the US). Here's how you do it:

  1. Select all the text (ctrl. a)

  2. Go to "review"

  3. Go to "language"

  4. Select "set proofing language"

  5. Select your language and voila!

Why is this helpful? If you are using MS Word's Editor, you'll miss a TON of dialect errors if your proofing language is incorrect. You can also do this with Grammarly by going to settings and selecting your preferred dialect.

2. Use editing software!

I know, I know – as an editor, I'm supposed to catch every little thing with my eagle eyes, right? Well, if you learn how to be perfect, let me know! We're human, and not only is it difficult to detect errors, but it is also incredibly difficult to catch them in our own writing.

Don't rely on one editing software, either.

I usually start out in MS Word and then copy-paste into Google docs to use Grammarly. Both software programs are great, but both also miss things that the other picks up.

Don't rely on editing software. Period.

This caveat is needed: While Grammarly and MS Word's Editor are wildly helpful, they miss all kinds of stuff. Silly stuff. Stuff you don't want haunting your work.

This leads me to number three.

3. Read your work aloud

I read mine aloud in an accent. Seriously. It makes me focus on each and every word so that I notice right away if something is off.

It also helps me analyze the flow of my writing to make it sound a little sweeter.

Give it a shot (accent or not) – it seriously works!

And a little bonus:

If your deadline isn't close but you're just too busy, send your work to someone else. I have colleagues that I send mine to (sometimes I still send it to my mom, the OG eagle eyes). Editors and proofreaders are here to take the task of nitty-gritty error-hunting off your plate so that your writing is polished and elevated. If it sounds like something you need help with, book a call with me and let's talk about it!

What techniques do you use to self-edit your work quickly?

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