Self Editing Tips

This article will help you when editing your own work. Most of these tips are equally relevant when peer editing.

  • Before you start editing ask yourself when, where, why, and how the document will be used.
  • Even if you prefer editing online, take a printout of the document when you are doing the final edit. You may miss certain things as you edit online.
  • Editing requires extreme focus and concentration. So perform edits when you are not pressed of time or have no deadlines to attend to. The best time to edit any document is when you start your working day in the morning. You are back to work after a break and it helps you see the matter with a fresh mind and perspective.
  • Edit in small doses. The longer you edit without a break, the less effective you will become. Divide big projects into sections you can edit completely without tiring your mind.
  • Don’t try to find everything at once. Skim for some things (such as fonts, spacing, missing illustrations). Then, go back to check out some other thing. That is, do a few rounds of edits, each focusing on a particular type.
  • If the document is too complex, read the draft several times. First, read the content to check the user level and general organization of the information at. Later look again for other problems such as clarity of language and other intricate details.
  • Add to your checklist any common errors you know you make and anything you feel needs to be checked or verified for that particular document.
  • Use a style sheet and a checklist as you edit. Keep them handy and refer to them when required.
  • Don’t overlook the obvious. Pay attention to the document title, document number, version number, and chapter or section titles, page numbering, and so on.
  • If you have used materials from another document or chapter, check that any required changes (such as the product name) have been made.
  • Check the line breaks and page breaks. Transitions to the next line or to the next page are common problem areas.
  • Look for symbols that come in pairs—parentheses, brackets, and quotation marks.
  • Double or triple-check equations. Check calculations.
  • Avoid language-edits at the same time as you perform substantive editing. It slows you down and will also distract you.

Spare some time to write a summary of your thoughts, observations, impressions, criticisms, or feelings about the draft. Categorize your comments according to the type of problem or error.