Like a shiny manicure or a freshly pressed shirt, thorough copyediting gives documents the extra touch that ensures they look professional and put-together. Here are my top copyediting tips to help make your documents look their best.
Use Spellcheck, But Don’t Rely on It
Spellcheck is a great tool that can save you from lots of embarrassing mistakes. So, by all means, turn it on! I like mine to check spelling while I type, so I don’t forget to run it at the end. I also like to set my spellcheck to look for grammar mistakes. There are many options when customizing your grammar settings in Microsoft Word. I have mine set for things I sometimes miss, like passive voice and split infinitives.
Show Formatting Marks
People are often wowed by my ability to find extra spaces after a period or fix that annoying thing when your document is exactly one page, but for some reason there’s a second blank page hanging off the end. The fact is, it’s easy when you show formatting marks in your document. All you need to do is click the button on your Home menu in Word that looks like a backwards “P” (the paragraph symbol). Now you’ll be able to easily spot any errant formatting in your documents.
Print It Out
When I’m reviewing a document, I do so on the computer screen as well as on a hard copy. For whatever reason, it’s easier for me to pick out some errors on a hard copy.
Review Documents More Than Once
In line with my last tip, when I’m editing something, I usually read it through three times. The first time with a fine-tooth comb, the second time for overall flow and the third time on a hard copy to be sure I didn’t miss anything.
Get a Second Set of Eyes
Everyone can benefit from having another person review his or her work. Sometimes, when you know what something is supposed to say, you might miss what it actually does say. An outside party can catch errors you don’t as well as provide input on overall readability.
By taking the extra time to thoroughly review your work and to employ some helpful tools, these copyediting tips will have your documents looking sharp.