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How to Edit Your Own Work When Writing Online

Updated on August 26, 2011

The New Writing Era

Writing on line can be fun, exciting and easy. This is a new era for writers all over the world. No longer do writers have to wait days, weeks or months for their work to be noticed, read and edited. In the days before the Internet it was a tense time hoping somewhere along the line, fingers and toes crossed, maybe, just maybe the finished work would appear in print. Those days are long gone.

Now, especially here on HubPages it’s as easy as thinking of a topic, writing to your heart’s content and clicking on the publish button. You have produced a new article for the entire world to read and devour. Your own work, your own words in print, albeit digitally.

All too often though, there is an important step to online publishing that often seems to be overlooked. That one crucial step is editing your work before you publish it to the rest of the world. It is important to learn how to edit your own work if you are writing on HubPages or any other online article site if you want to be recognised as a serious writer. As an online writer you also need to be your own editor.

Steps to Editing Your Own Work

Let’s all work towards publishing quality content online. Check your work then check again. There are a few easy steps to follow if you want your finished piece to have that professional look and finish.

  • Use a spell and grammar checker
  • Read what you have written from start to finish
  • Correct any spelling or typing mistakes
  • Read what you have corrected from start to finish

Example 1 Use a Dictionary

Take the Editing Process Further

Starting your document in a word program such as, Microsoft Word will help identify any spelling or grammatical errors. If you struggle to see the errors on screen, then print your document from a word program and use a ruler under each line.

Reading on the Internet has brought about the increased use of skimming. This is fine when you are searching for something in particular but for your own writing you will need to give a more thorough approach to your reading. Some find it helpful to read aloud or have someone else read through the work before it is published.

Use a dictionary as much as you need to verify spelling and word meanings. If you are using Microsoft Word place the cursor over a word and right click. There is an option to look up the word in a selection of reference books.In Example 1, I have used the Encarta Dictionary (UK) version to find out the meaning of the word sea.

Example 2 Correct Use for Words that Sound Similar

They're taking their children to the shopping centre and will have some lunch when they get there.

Here are the results from your final exam. I will read them out to you and I hope that you can hear me in the back of the room.

The forensic expert was questioned on the crime site. The lawyer said he needed to cite a phrase from one of his law books, while the witness admitted his sight wasn’t the best without his glasses.

Some mornings when I look out on the ocean I can see the colours of the sky reflected in the sea below.

My scarf was so loose around my neck I was sure I would lose it with the next gust of wind.

Using a spell checker is fine for the basic spelling errors but does not take the place of proper editing. Pay attention to words with similar sounds that have different meanings and spellings.

  • their or there or they're
  • here or hear
  • site or sight or cite
  • see or sea
  • lose or loose

In Example 2, the sentences show the correct use of these words.

Publish Quality Content on HubPages and other writing sites. Check your work then check again.

First Class Writer

Maybe I should be spending less time on the invisible editing of everything I read online and more time writing my own perfect hubs. But I can’t help it. Every time I get a batch of freshly completed articles to my in box I get excited. Who has written something new? Is it a Hubber I follow religiously or another I have started to follow because I read a previous article that interested me? Am I about to click on the link and read the full story? Not always.

There are so many new Hubs that arrive every day through e-mail I do have to be a bit selective in the ones I choose to read in their entirety. The first turn off for me is the incredibly senseless mistakes in the title followed by a 'typo' in the first line of text. This is particularly annoying if it is a prolific and supposedly professional writer. Just because you've hit the number one spot as a writer, whether that be for HubPages, Squidoo or InforBarrel, it doesn't mean the writing can become less than perfect. The writing should always be first class.

Take care of your writing and your writing will take care of you.

Copyright © 2011 Karen Wilton


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    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Nice pick up Eric. How many times do you think I read and re-read that first paragraph? I wish I could say I had done it on purpose to see if anyone was paying attention but sadly it was a typo.

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 6 years ago from USA

      You have convinced me to go back and re-read all my online published works out loud. I'm sure I will find much to correct. A very informative hub! Thank you for the tips on editing. Do I dare to mention this next observation? OK, in a spirit of friendliness, here goes. In the first line of this hub you have a typo. You use two separate words "on" and "line" for "online". In the title and in the rest of your article you use the single word "online". (Ok, now you can all pick on me for all the grammar and punctuation mistakes I've probably made in this comment.)

    • Mary R. Schutter profile image

      Mary R. Schutter 6 years ago

      I found your Hub after I had published mine on the same topic. It amazes me that we writers are so often 'on the same page' when it comes to writing. Editing one's own work is critical. I wish more Hubbers, and writers in general, understood that. Thank you for an enjoyable and informative piece.

    • CJamesIII profile image

      CJamesIII 7 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      You are right, writing should always be first class!

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      My pleasure Abdi, glad I can help in some small way.

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Abdinasir Aden 7 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks Karand for your encouragement and spirit you give me every time I meet with you at hub pages.

      Peace and Love :)


    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Abdi your writing is getting better all the time! Thank you for your lovely comment and I hope you are able to learn something from this. There are many good articles on how to write better English on HubPages that will help you as well.

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Abdinasir Aden 7 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Hey Karanda! You made it this hub and it is one of those hubs that I give more attention. There is lots of information for editing hubs or kind of writing before you let your audiences to see and I really enjoyed reading it. It is not enough for me to read one time so I will bookmark it as my future reference. Thanks for the great advice.

      Best wishes.


    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Academic with ESL readers in mind? That certainly is a challenge Howard S. Now I am really looking forward to reading your Hub on the topic to see what advice you have to offer.

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      Yessss! In my work, I am supposed to copy edit with ESL readers in mind, but my material is generally academic news. That's quite a challenge. To give the topic another twist, my article will be "How to Copy Edit in a Foreign Language."

      Most of my tips would more accurately be termed proofreading, but for most folks that conjures the wrong idea in the context of foreign language.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you Howard S. I'll look for your Hub in April. One of the main reasons I wrote this was for those with English as a second language, hence its simplicity. The other reason was because I was tired of reading 'how to edit' articles that were full of errors.

      Good point about the change in formatting. It can make a big difference seeing the print in a narrow column.

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      Good link for a hub I'll publish in April. You obviously have a good following in order to attract this many comments in two weeks. No earthshaking ideas--just good solid advice. And no errors--doesn't it bug you to read how-to-edit articles filled with errors?

      Be careful with the online spelling checkers. Apart from homophones and custom words added, they are not infallible. The one in Microsoft Word has been known to accept misspelled words occasionally.

      To avoid that glassy-eyed hypnotic effect of the fifth edit, narrow the column width drastically or print it out. Any change in formatting helps.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Fastfreta thank you so much for the lovely compliments, vote and bookmark. I am so glad you found this useful. The beauty about being a member of HubPages is the potential to improve as a writer. I, too am learning new skills every day.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

      This is a very interesting, and educational hub. I'm almost afraid to become your follower, after reading this hub. However, because I'm not a true professional writer, hubbers like yourself can only help me improve. I like reading this so much I'm going to bookmark it and come back again. I will be back, Karanda. Voted Up/useful!

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Barbergirl28 wasn't that a lovely backlink from What is Q? As writers we also need to be prolific readers and I agree wholeheartedly, there is nothing worse than an article full of typos, spelling and grammatical errors. As you say, the odd typo can be overlooked, we're only human and don't have the external eye of an editor. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Hey Rebecca E. I'm sure some of those 200 Hubs will be fine, no-one minds the odd typo. Hope my editing Hubs help for the finer pointers though. Lots of luck.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 7 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      That is some great advice! I am so glad that I followed the link for WhatisQ over here. I know it irritates me to no end when I see several typos in a writer's work. I know mine is not perfect but it seems my eyes will draw to the mistake. Although the occasional typo isn't the end of the world, I think all new hubbers (and maybe some older ones as well) should read this before they start posting. Too many times have I come across an article that was hardly understandable because of the lack of proper writing skills.

      Great hub... voted up!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      Karanda- It is so ture, I've got about 200 or so hubs to fix up, so here's to your editing hubs.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Congratulations Rebecca E. The comment was perfect. Taking a few extra moments to edit a written piece can elevate the standard to first class writing. I wish you well with your writing.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      I am bookmarking this, for very real reasons. This is a super help! (I am trying to avoid typos on this comment!)

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Excellent comment DzyMsLizzy and at first glance I can't see any obvious typos so you can breathe a sigh of relief. I'll have to pop over to your Hubs and see what I can learn from you. It seems the more I write, the more there is to learn. Thank you for the vote up.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Absolutely! I have written a couple of hubs along these lines myself. It is so distracting to come across these kinds of errors when reading; it brings the flow of the message to a jarring halt.

      It is also true, as you point out, that spell checker is NOT equal to 'word checker.' You do have to watch out for those tricky homophones!

      Reading out loud and/or having a different set of eyes are also helpful tips.

      And lest anyone think that your first commenter, Pierre Savoie was pointing out a mere misspelling, "reigned" is also a legitimate word: a king reigns over his kingdom. ;-)

      Great hub! Voted up!

      (And if I should have made and missed any typos (horrors!) in my comment...I apologize--I'm having a problem with some sticking keys that don't always obey.)

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      You are so right about reading out loud Carolapple. Even the best spell and grammar checker won't spot those words that have more than one spelling.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Katiem2 it is difficult trying to balance creativity with correctness, especially when the topic is one we feel passionate about. The beauty of writing on this site is we can always go back and edit a Hub later!

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the rate up, bookmark and useful @toknowinfo. I'm so pleased you found the information practical and I do hope it will help someone out there improve their writing.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Gigi, I feel as if I have been proofed by one of the best. I do get nervous every time I put out an article on how to improve your writing in case I've made errors myself. Thank you for your support.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for reading b.Malin. It's good to have someone else close by to edit your work for you. I am so glad your husband is happy to help.

    • carolapple profile image

      carolapple 7 years ago from Suffolk Virginia

      Thanks for a great and needed hub. I edit documents in my day job and I can definitely say that the hardest document to edit is my own. I find reading it aloud to be the most sure-fire way to identify not only grammatical errors but awkward wording. If you can find someone else to act as free proofreader, a family member perhaps, that is also helpful.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Boy oh boy do I ever need this. I write and become blind to my own errors. I often feel I'm creative without the ability to write grammatically correct.

      Whew thanks for the helpful guidelines and tips on how to edit your own work when writing online!

      Much Needed and Appreciated! :) Katie

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Thanks for all the great tips. Your advice is practical and well put together. Bookmarked and rated up and useful.

    • profile image

      Gigi Thibodeau 7 years ago

      Amen, sister! :) I love this hub, and I agree with you completely. I taught writing to college students for many years, so I am a stickler for proofreading and for style. You offer great advice here. Thanks.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 7 years ago

      Wonderful, simple information to instill in our minds...I use my Husband to double check my work, and I do use spell check, such a useful tool. thanks once again for a timely Hub, Karanda.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Eiddwen, always good to see your name in the comments list. I wrote this one especially for those writers who struggle because English is their second language. I'm glad you found it useful too.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Hi Karanda,

      A great hub which I am bookmarking.Thanks for sharing and I also give this one useful/up.

      Take care


    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Adam @What is Q please think twice before deleting your work. You have a rather unique writing style enjoyed by many. Just keep editing and minding your grammar (note spelling). Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Excellent examples of homophones Pierre. You obviously know a thing or two about writing as well as drawing. Thanks for your comment.

    • What Is Q profile image

      Adam 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Hey, great advice, Karanda. I write all my hubs on Microsoft Works word processor, so if I make a mistake in spelling, it's immediately corrected. I just have to mind my grammer. It's not as easy for some people as it is for others. I read my stuff so much that I'm sick of it. lol. But I'm my own worst critic, so editing my work is the best thing for me. I just have to ignore the desire to delete it all.

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 7 years ago from Canada

      Very good. The words which sound the same but differ in meaning are called "homophones". Because school standards are slipping, I see many such errors going mainstream even in the newspapers. Here are some more:

      --affect and effect: To affect something is to influence. To effect (verb) is to cause or bring about.

      --"pour" over a book. The expression is "pore over a book". (To study closely or intently for a period of time)

      --sometimes you read that a politician "reigned in" a subordinate. It should be "reined in" as in the reins of a horse.


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