Copyediting Tips: Make it Fun, Not Just a Process


Speakers, trainers, and authors, when it comes to editing and proofreading, there are many factors to consider. As writers, our main goal is to make sure our message is communicated clearly and effectively. The purpose of the writing project should be known from the beginning. But what happens when bad grammar and minor errors get in the way? Our message gets lost and mistakes distract our readers. To guard against common typos and keep your audience engaged, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Always write in active voice

The active and passive voice can be used in any type of writing. However, the active voice is the clearest. As you review your writing, pay attention to the use of verbs; Is the subject of the award “performing” the action or is it “receiving” the action? Keep your subject at the beginning of the sentence instead of the end to alleviate this problem and maintain a consistent level of writing:

1. Passive voice: I bought those shoes.

2. Active voice: I bought those shoes.

interview yourself

Now is your chance to be the investigative reporter lurking within you! (Is it just my fantasy?) After you’ve checked for grammar and misspellings, read your writing again and focus on your overall message. Ask yourself questions like these:

1. Did I provide enough detail to prove my purpose?

2. Do I sound credible? Have I included enough research or factual information to prove my points?

3. Is there additional information that I can remove?

4. Did I contradict my own ideas?

Read your writing out loud

If you read your writing silently, it’s very easy to ignore grammatical errors. Because we know our intentions and what we are trying to say, it is easy for us to ignore these errors. Once we slow down and read what we wrote out loud, we find those errors that could be distracting to the audience. We can listen for missing words, mechanical problems, redundancies, etc. You don’t have to read your project to anyone else, just yourself.

Check redundancies

Have you ever found yourself repeating words or ideas in your writing? This happens to all of us! As you read your first draft, highlight words that repeat themselves or sentences that are similar to each other. You may find that you can combine your ideas into a sentence and use a thesaurus to change your choice of words. (The thesaurus is my best friend!)

Read backwards

This probably sounds like weird advice, but it’s very useful when trying to catch misspellings. By reading backwards, you can isolate your language and how it is used. You will notice individual words instead of your key ideas. Note that this won’t help if you’re looking for gaps in the content.

These are just some of my tips and tricks to help you through the editing process. Try some or all to see what works best for you! Just remember the most important rule of thumb: state your purpose clearly to help your audience understand your writing, and remember to have fun.