Editing takes time. Unless you write or edit for a living, you might not have time to give your content the full edit it deserves. However, proofreading your content is so, so important. And while there are ways to edit your content quicker, people often make mistakes when attempting to edit quickly.
Avoid these six mistakes to produce better content:
1) Relying on Apps to Do Your Editing for You
Yes, these tools are helpful; I use them myself. However, apps and tools are far from perfect.
Use editing apps to identify opportunities to improve your content, but don’t accept their recommendations as gospel or assume they catch everything. You could run your piece through an editing app to get started, review its recommendations, go back to your content and make any changes, and then run it through the editing app once more to see what you might have missed.
Here are some of my favorite editing apps:
- Grammarly: Identifies passive voice, repetitive or excess words, incorrect words, missing punctuation, etc.
- Hemingway App: Identifies passive voice, complex phrases, adverbs, hard-to-read sentences, etc. It also tells you the reading level required to read your content.
- Copyscape: Not technically an editing app, but it allows you to check your work for any potential plagiarism.
2) Not Taking Time Between Writing and Editing
You should never edit your own work directly after writing. If you edit immediately after writing, you will likely miss a few mistakes.
You might overlook that you used the wrong word or left out an article (a, an, the) or you might not realize that some of your sentences are incomplete or difficult to understand.
3) Not Having Another Person Read Over Your Content
When you read your own content, you are likely to think it sounds fine because you read it in your head, where the thought originated. It happens to me all the time; something sounds great in my head, but is unclear when I write it out. Or I miss a grammatical mistake or missed word because I know how the sentence is supposed to read. When another person reads your content, they’ll likely catch that missing word.
If you can’t have another person read over your content, take a break, come back, and read your content aloud. It will help you check if any of your sentences are too long (if you’re pausing often or out of breath by the end, it’s likely too long) or sound awkward.
4) Trying to Do Too Much at One Time
The quicker you work, the greater the risk of making mistakes. Avoid doing too much at once.
I see planning a big writing assignment the same way I see packing for a big trip. It’s best to start early and take your time.
If you don’t have a week to write your content, consider doing it over a day or two. Just break up the tasks to give your mind a rest. After all, you can’t be successful writing and proofreading your content if you’re burned out. Don’t feel like you have to sit at your desk until it’s done.
If you find yourself reading the same sentence two or three times, take a break. I take a lap around my office building every few hours to center myself. Consider taking your dog for a walk around the block. Only have a minute or two? Put your laundry in the dryer or go check the mail.
5) Only Reading Your Content Once
This is a big mistake, especially if you changed anything during editing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed a word or two during editing and failed to realize it changed the entire meaning of the sentence. Had I not read it once more, a misleading or confusing sentence would have slipped through.
If you made edits to your content, take a break and read it at least once more to proofread your edits.
6) Not Editing the Right Things
Some people, in their haste to edit quickly, edit the “wrong” things. Arguably, the most important things to check for during editing are the following:
- Grammar: Using there instead of their might hurt your credibility. Make sure you didn’t mix up words, check your subject-verb agreement, and check your punctuation.
- Facts: Incorrect information is an automatic knock to your credibility. I recommend doing one edit for grammar and one for facts.
- Organization: This is where having an outline helps. Make sure your content flows logically. Is the most important information at the top? Do your transitions work? Did you anticipate relevant follow-up questions?
- Message: What’s your message? Does your content clearly communicate it? If not, consider reorganizing or rewriting parts of your content.
Consider the changes you are making. Do they improve the writing? If changing a word adds clarity, change it. If the change is meaningless, don’t waste your time mulling it over.
You can edit quickly, but don’t sacrifice quality in your quest to save time.
For help with writing and editing your content, give us a call: 888-521-3880.