Top 10 Tips for Editing Documents

  1. Practice Stop/Start – Once you’ve written your document, stop, and start something else. Later come back to the document and read it with “fresh eyes.”
  2. Read what you’ve written slowly and aloud.
  3. When reading, use a blank sheet of paper to cover the content not yet proofed, so you’re just focusing on the line you’re reading.
  4. Edit for Structure and Content first – Do the “big picture” editing before the proofreading for grammar, spelling, punctuation etc.
  5. Edit for Style – appropriate tone, use of gender, sentence structures, passive voice, prepositions, conjunctions, etc.
  6. Shorten your sentences by cutting long ones in two. Keep your paragraphs short.
  7. Check clarity, anything that might be unclear to the reader. Check accuracy.
  8. Reduce the use of adverbs and adjectives; use stronger words. Examples: Use “great” rather than “really good.” Use “she sprinted” rather than “she ran quickly.”
  9. Avoid “empty words” – “in order to, start to, that, there is/are, due to the fact that,” etc.
  10. Avoid unnecessary gerunds (ing). Say “she ran toward” rather than “she was running toward.”

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