Introduction: How to Edit Your Own Writing

Even if you are not a professional editor, someone is going to ask you to edit and review a document at some point of your career. It may be a friend of yours who admires your writing skills and is asking for help on making their work better; or it may be your boss who is asking you to finish his report. The editing task is challenging, and you may be uncertain about the necessary changes. On top of everything, the writer may end up being unsatisfied with the choices you made.

The best editors from Help.Plagtracker are paid good money for their job, and there is a reason behind that – good editing takes a lot of practice and finesse. However, you can be a good editor if you follow our tips that will make this task easier.

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Step 1: Measure Twice Before You Cut

Before you do any changes to the piece you are editing, you have to make sure they are necessary. Most professional editors read the manuscript before they start doing the actual work of editing. This helps the editor to identify what the writer is trying to say and keep his tone and voice in its original form. You have to know everything about the subject matter before you start making the necessary changes.

Before you start editing, it is recommended to ask the writer what he expects from the editing work. Some writers will just want you to make sure that everything is spelled right, but others want the editors to expand the information and make sure that it’s correct.

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Step 2: Detect the Homonyms

The most common error during writing comes in the form of homonyms. Most writers check their own work to correct the typos, but these words simply fall through the cracks and get unnoticed through the editing process. Your job as an editor is to detect them and correct them.

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Step 3: Do Your Research and Don’t Guess

During the editing process, you might encounter some information that doesn’t fit and seems wrong. If that’s the case, you need more research in order to make the right corrections. It would be embarrassing for the writer to leave wrong information in the piece, so your job as an editor extends beyond simple grammar, spelling and style corrections.

You may figure out the way to correct such errors from the context of the writing, but you have to be sure before you make changes and you must never take guesses. The best way to solve such situation is to make notes in the document and ask the writer how you should fix the issue.

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Step 4: Be Careful With Style Corrections

Style corrections may be needed sometimes during the editing process. However, you have to be careful at this point and make sure to consult the proper style guide. You can ask the writer if there is a preferred style guide, and you can make the corrections according to your own preference if there isn’t, but make sure to keep them consistent.

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Step 5: Make Only Necessary Changes and Forget About Your Own Preferences

Your main job as an editor is to clean up the messy writing and make sure that the information is correct, but you have to maintain the original meaning of the sentences and the big picture. If a writer asked you to proofread and edit a piece he is very proud of, it would be offensive if you returned it in an unrecognizable format.

As an editor, you need to know what to change, but you also need to know what should be left alone. You won’t like every piece of writing you will need to edit, but the writer’s voice and tone have to be considered at all times. All changes you make in the document have to be defensible. If the writer asks you why you made a certain change, you cannot say ‘I preferred that way’.

Editing is never easy, but it is a useful task that helps everyone in the end. You will do your job and get acknowledged for it, the writer will deliver a better piece and the readers will be more satisfied with the material that is served to them.

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