The devil is in the details, and that’s why solid copy editing is crucial for effective writing. If you’ve ever turned in a project to your boss, submitted a resume or written copy for your company’s website only to find you published an error, you may need to improve your copy editing process. Readers will overlook even the most brilliant ideas if they're distracted by grammar and punctuation errors.
While some use the term copy editing and proofreading interchangeably, they’re actually different parts of the revision process. Copy editing is the step before proofreading that improves grammar, mechanics and organization to ensure the material is readable, well-constructed and error-free. It’s the process of polishing your writing to make it as effective as possible. Proofreaders look for minor text or formatting issues and confirm the material is ready for publication.
While it's a crucial part of the editing process, copy editing can be a thankless job; nobody will know if you fixed a mistake, but they will remember if you didn’t. That’s why the FH team put together a few tips to improve your copy editing process to ensure all your materials are flawless:
- Take a break: Being absorbed in your writing can prevent you from seeing the forest for the trees, and taking a break before copy editing allows you to approach it with a fresh perspective. If you don’t give yourself distance, your mind will read what it thinks is on the page – rather than what’s actually there.
- Use text-to-speech: While verbalizing your writing is a great way to improve copy editing, having your computer do it is even better. Both Apple and Microsoft computers have a built-in text-to-speech function that will read selected text aloud. Hearing your writing allows your ears to catch mistakes in grammar, sentence structure and flow.
- Grammarly – Grammarly is an online grammar checker that catches errors Word often overlooks. While the premium version of the software is a bit expensive, the free online version checks over 100 points of grammar, contextual spelling and punctuation errors. It’s a great tool to improve both the speed and precision of your copy editing process.
- Ask a co-worker – Having a co-worker look over your work is a great way to catch mistakes. Another set of eyes can pick up on things you won’t see yourself and give fresh perspective on the work as a whole. Sending your writing around the office before you turn it in is a great way to have peace of mind when you finally press submit.
At FH, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and have staff involved in the copy editing process on countless projects. If you’re looking for help with copy editing or want to share your own tips, let us know in the comments below!