How to be a good editor and proofreader
Editing and proofreading are two different stages a text undergoes to improve its quality. An editor goes through the text and determines its final content, eliminating unnecessary words and correcting grammatical and spelling errors. A proofreader, on the other hand, goes through the text after editing and gives the final word on its quality. Even though these are two different jobs, they are, most often, done by one person. It needs focus and attention to detail to help you carry out both roles competently.
Before doing any editing or proofreading, you should first run spelling and grammar checks to rectify the typographical errors in your text. It is only a first step to editing and proofreading. It is, however, sometimes unreliable. The two programs have a limited dictionary and might not detect all the errors you make. The spell-checker might help to detect words that are repeated and reversed letters.
A good editor and proofreader should have a handbook of rules of grammar and punctuation. Such a book helps when editing as you can refer to them when you have questions. You should also trust your dictionary more than the computer programs. Go through your text at a slow pace and change an error as soon as you notice it.
Read the text to yourself aloud and get how it sounds. You can get the errors as you listen. The errors might be in the form of incomplete ideas, phrases and sentences. You can also spot the parts that do not make any sense and are unclear. Ensure the text has the exact information that you want to pass across. You can have someone else read the text as you listen.
Give your draft a rest before embarking on revision. Editing and proofreading immediately you finish writing will leave several unresolved errors. Good writers and editors usually give their work a day or more to make it easier to detect the errors when they have settled their minds. Get a quiet place and go through the text with fresh eyes to enable you read whatever you wrote as it is, and not as you thought you did.
Double-check if you entered the right names, figures, and facts. The essence of editing is not only to eradicate spelling and grammatical errors; it is also to ensure the accuracy of the information you are passing across.
To detect even more errors, read your work from the bottom going up. It helps in focusing on the words and ensure you do not depend on the content of the text.
The proofreading process requires patience. If you find words or a sentence that you are not sure about, look it up. Do not assume that it is correct. The process becomes easier if you develop a strategy, which enables you to map out areas of your writing that need attention.
A good editor or proofreader, therefore, needs to ensure the document covers the content accurately, follows the structure and the paragraphs explaining one idea at a time. The text should flow to communicate ideas clearly and in an appropriate tone. The following, sum up what makes one a good editor or proofreader:
- Does not rely on spelling and grammar checkers.
- Has a handbook and a dictionary.
- Ensures accuracy of content in a text.
- Leaves the work to rest before revising.