Few companies can afford to provide professional editors to assist policy and procedure writers with their various published policy or procedure writers. So what does it mean if we can’t afford the publishers? Simple, we have to edit our own work and I am the first to say that editing yourself is not easy. I cannot edit my own work and this effect is often reflected in my books. I contract publishers but they don’t capture everything either. I think I have never read a book in which there are not at least one or more errors in judgment.
Then what do you do? Again, this is a simple answer. Do it yourself but be careful. There are several stages in a writing process through which I will only give you advice on how to edit your own work.
- Don’t edit right away. Set the draft aside for at least 24 hours and then read it over.
- Perform your editing in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.
- Make multiple passes through your document, spelling in one pass, grammar in the second, and general structure in the third.
- Print a copy of the draft and read the printed version; it is much easier to detect errors in print.
- Keep a stylesheet handy for consistency throughout this document and others.
- The most important thing is to buy the book, Edit yourself, from Amazon.com and you’ll be amazed at what you can catch.
- Lastly, ask a friend, spouse, or co-worker to review your work. If you developed your draft using a team, have at least one team member review your final draft. It always amazes me what other people get.
And finally, I admit that some of my policies and procedures and even my books have errors, but it is rare when I don’t see a book or magazine article without errors. Certainly very rare. Nobody is perfect. But the reader should pay attention to the content and not to the grammar or style of your draft. Keep this in mind and do the best you can when editing your own stuff.