Sunday, July 1, 2007

Six Steps To Better Editing And Writing

Proofreading and editing one’s own writing is very difficult. A quick reread seldom exposes the errors inherent in the work, but following the steps discussed in this article, should help you develop an efficient and effective method of proofing and editing your writing. These steps will help you become a better editor and in turn a better writer.

1. Spacing after punctuation. Make sure to use only one space between sentences. The double space was used on the typewriter to help the reader differentiate between sentences. It is not necessary to add the extra space when using a word processing program and many offer the option of alerting you when you’ve added an extra space. The first thing I do when I edit a piece is a search and replace of all the double spaces.

2. Web site versus website. The second thing I do is a search and replace of all the incorrect and often inconsistent uses of Web site. The World Wide Web, or the Web as it is more commonly referred to, is a proper noun, hence it should be capitalized. Site or host or any other word that we try to combine with Web is in fact its own word.

3. Internet versus internet. The third thing I do before I begin to edit a piece of writing is to perform a search and replace for the incorrect and again often inconsistent uses of Internet. The same principle applies here. Internet is a proper noun and therefore is always capitalized.

4. Apostrophes. Next, I actually read the piece with an eye out for certain apostrophe errors – in particular, your and you’re, they’re and their as well as possession issues. Some industries identify themselves by using an acronym. For instance, a CPA is a certified public accountant, a VA is a virtual assistant, and there are many more. Many writers mistakenly use an apostrophe when they actually intend to form a plural of the word. VAs is correct as is CPAs when referring to virtual assistants or certified public accountants. An apostrophe would only be used for possession. The VA’s services were superior represents a correct use of the apostrophe.

5. The wrong word – make sure you’re using the right word. When do you use then as opposed to than, or effect instead of affect? How about it’s and its? If you’re not sure – look it up.

6. Consistency – some errors can be excused, as long as you’re consistent. I say that with some degree of sarcasm. Pay attention to Web sites, advertisements and other marketing pieces currently used by businesses of all size and reputations and see if you can notice the inconsistencies that exist. Does it affect the way you see the company? How about if they were offering editing and proofreading services? If you’re going to capitalize Client – make sure you do it throughout all your materials.

In order to spot errors in your writing, you need to slow down your reading speed. Your normal reading speed will not give your eyes the opportunity to pick up the error and will allow your mind to fill in the gap or correct it automatically. Read your piece aloud – slowly. This encourages you to look at every word. You can also use a ruler or another piece of paper to force your eyes to review each line. When reading, put yourself in your reader’s shoes and listen as your audience might. If you follow these tips, you’ll be editing and writing wisely.

About the Author:

Laurie Dart, author and owner of Writing Wisely provides writing and editing services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To improve your writing, visit the Web site:

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1 comment:

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