Editing and proofreading are skills that can be acquired
They are helpful tools when you are writing for business, academia or for personal use.
Computerised tools help to get your document to publishing standard although there are some things you need to be aware of.
The basic tools of producing a high standard document are perfect grammar, punctuation and spelling – there are no substitutes.
The rules for professional editing and proofreading are no different to editing hard copy.
Why Spell and Grammar Check Will Fail You
People do notice poor writing skills. It is not sufficient to rely on computerised spell check and grammar programs for your online proofreading and editing support.
One of the difficulties with relying on spell check is that some words sound the same but have different meanings, e.g. their/there, advice/advice. It does help to set your spell checker to your preferred spelling e.g. UK English, US English, Australian English.
The computer’s grammar resources are equally inadequate as they comment on active and passive voice, complex sentences and repeated words without consideration for context, meaning or required tone and sometimes, they change a sentence to pure nonsense.
There are however, considerable advantages to editing and proofreading online.
Online Editing Resources
Track changes and comments are most useful tools for editing and proofreading online. The system needs to be switched on and switched off when no longer needed and the editor may insert, delete or make comment without disrupting the whole document. The corrected text can be read and the changes can be accepted individually or as a whole.
Global corrections identified through good editing and proofreading can be changed throughout the document by the Find and Replace mechanism. This means that if you identified that ‘copy editing and proofreading’ should be ‘editing and proofreading’, you can change this throughout the document with a few clicks of the mouse.
Typography makes online editing and proofreading so much easier and in the control of the professional proofreader and editor. Typefaces, font sizes and spacing are just some of the advantages of using online proofreading and editing resources.
No online proofreading and copyediting would be complete without checking spacing. Spacing is perhaps the most difficult when editing online. Get used to working with the paragraph marks and other formatting marks turned on. This will assist with consistency and visual presentation. Good online editing will identify inaccuracies in the document and each space has to be painstakingly reviewed.
Good formatting can showcase a document beyond its potential and is normally associated with online proofreading. Online editing using formatting tools gives the editor or writer the opportunity to present the document consistently and professionally.
Cutting and Pasting
Online editing allows text to be manipulated easily by selecting and cutting script, and then pasting in the appropriate position. This is far superior to hardcopy editing where the editor marks the document and another person makes the changes on the document.
Methods of Citation
Finally, the referencing systems and bibliographies. Electronic functions make these tasks easier.
Online Proofreading: A word of advice.
Always print out a document for final proofreading, just to be sure. The eyes do play tricks.