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How to Edit Your Own Writing - Tips to Help You Find Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation Errors

Updated on August 14, 2013
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Mom. Homeschooler. Mystery shopper. Editor. Wife. These are a few words to describe notyouraverageal. Her life is anything but average.

Your Brain S33S What It Wants To

Editing the writing of other people can be difficult, but editing your own work can be almost impossible. Many times, as we read our own work, our brains fill in what we wanted it to say instead of reading what the sentence actually says. Finding ways to actually check your work can be tricky.

Although no one can be perfect all the time, here are a few tips to help you as you edit.

A Little Distance Goes a Long Way

Get Some Space

Don’t try to edit your writing right after you just wrote it. If you do, you will remember what it was you were trying to say, and you will read that, instead of what is actually on the page.

Instead, go on to something else. Possibly write something else or read a book for a while. Go do the dishes. Do anything to take your mind off what you just wrote. Then, later, go back and read your writing again. You’ll be amazed at how many mistakes you find.

Technology is Your Friend

Use a Program with a Spell Check and Grammar Check

While programs, such as Microsoft Word, are not perfect, they will catch a lot of mistakes. Word puts red lines under misspelled words and. Green lines will indicate fragmented sentences or grammar errors. After you have written what you are working on, go back and check for those lines.

Backward is the New Forward

Read Last Word to First Word

For misspellings, read each sentence from last word to first. If you read sentences in the right order, your brain will read what you wanted it to say. However, if you read the sentence backward, your brain will focus on each individual word.

Say It Loud and Proud

Read Your Writing Aloud

If you focus on what you are reading and not on what you wanted it to say, this will work. Reading each word aloud will cause you to catch homophone mistakes and other grammatical errors. Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently, such as too, two and to. Your mind will catch these easier when you read your writings aloud.

Don't Be Ashamed to Ask for Help

Even editors and English teachers don’t know all the rules. If you are unsure about a certain spelling or the punctuation that should be used or noun and verb agreement, look it up! There are bunches of grammar websites out there to guide you. There is no shame in researching. It’s better to double check than to write it wrong.

Revisit Your Works

If you are publishing your writings, go back a month later and re-read the information. Even following all these steps, mistakes still happen. A sure-fire way to catch even more mistakes is to go back much later and check. At that point, edit the piece and publish it again. It’s never too late to fix a grammar, punctuation or spelling issue.

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