When you use double crochet, don't chain 3. I got this tip from a professional designer. Instead just chain 2. It will come out much straighter. Be sure that you are counting the stitches on each row as you go.
To straighten out a piece you've already finished, I just use a sc edge. I hope this helps.
I saw a pattern once that said, in order to make the edges straight, you have to skip the first stitch, and count the turning chain as part of the stitch for the row. I tried it and it did make the edges straighter.
both the other suggestions will make the side edges of your work straighter. Another mistake that many crocheters make is that they either do not work into the last stitch or they work two stitches into the last stitch. Counting stitches each row is a wonderful idea, it is very easy to miss a stitch without realizing you have done so. A knitting row/stitch counter will help you to keep track, when you are working very long rows, and is useful for other crochet purposes.
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