Writing is a long and complicated process. After you have toiled over your work, writing and rewriting over a long period of time, you always have to edit it. For many people, this is where the going gets rough. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation can get very technical. It’s enough to make your head spin. Microsoft Word never catches every error and rereading your own work can really make you cringe. Once you start rereading, you want to start changing. Sometimes, you can unintentionally end up with a completely different story. No matter what way you look at it, self-editing is a giant pain in the ass. It’s also a very necessary one. But have no fear, there are resources that make the task of self-editing less complicated. Here are a few resources to make self-editing your next work easier to manage:
- Have any online dictionary, thesaurus, and/or style guide you may need ready. Sometimes you will come across a sentence that may be grammatically correct, but just doesn’t set the tone you are looking for. Or it may not be formatted in the right style. Having a dictionary, thesaurus, and/or style guide ready will keep you from having to hunt for the right resource later. Most dictionaries and reference guides have become available online, making it easier to get your hands on the information you need.
- Use Grammarly to catch more mistakes when they happen. Grammarly is a spelling, grammar, and punctuation checker that you can add to your internet browser as an extension. It catches more mistakes than Word does. You can copy and paste your text into the Grammarly editor and get it corrected on the spot. Grammarly also helps catch mistakes in anything you write online. From Facebook to emails, Grammarly will correct it as you write it. (https://app.grammarly.com/)
- If you are writing about something wordy or technical, you may need to turn it into plain language. Many of us encounter wording that we don’t understand in everyday life. From legal documents to scientific studies, technical language can throw us all for a loop. Changing technical jargon to plain wording will help your readers better understand what you are trying to say. (http://www.plainlanguagenetwork.org/Examples/samples.html)
- If you use references, make sure they are cited right with ReferenceChecker. ReferenceChecker is a free, downloadable software that you can use to double check any and all references you write. ReferenceChecker checks a number of different styles as well as displays links to corrections for your references. (http://www.goodcitations.com/)
- Use a checklist to keep you on track. Without a clear idea of what needs to be done with editing, it is easy to get sidetracked. Keep a checklist nearby and follow it to keep you focused. Checklists also serve as a reminder for common mistakes to look for in your writing. (http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/Editing%20Checklist.pdf)
There are plenty of resources out there to get you through the editing process. Use these resources as a guide when you start editing your work. They may even lead you to more resources that fit your writing better. Editing becomes simpler with practice. All you have to do is persevere. Hopefully, these resources will make your next editing venture a little easier to handle.