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Be Your Own Copy Editor: Tips and Tricks for Polishing Your Writing

Let’s face it — copy editing your own work is never ideal. It usually takes a team of sharp minds and sharper eyes to produce content that’s clear, concise and above all, CORRECT. But, hey, we’ve all been there. Whether you’ve hit up against a tight deadline, or your company’s copy team consists of “me, myself and I,” you can still be your own editor — thanks to a few tricks of the trade from our Pittsburgh content marketing crew.

  • Spellcheck is your friend … sometimes. Did you check all those red squiggles under your words? How about the blue ones? Running your work through grammar and spellcheck is a great first step, but don’t rely on it to check for everything. You could end up with an embarrassing miss steak you wouldn’t wish on your worst enema. (See what we did there?)
  • Make yourself an editing “cheat sheet.” At Ideality, we create unique copy edit checklists for each client to keep track of frequently used names, phrases, odd spellings or capitalizations and style preferences. Referring to the copy edit checklist ensures we get it right each time and achieve a consistent style, tone and voice. Create your own list to make double checking tricky items easier. Your future self will thank you!
  • Read your words out loud. And then read them again. Errant commas, changes in voice, omitted words, double words… the same errors you might gloss over when reading to yourself often stand out when spoken aloud.
  • Make those mistakes stand out on screen.  Change up your formatting, at least temporarily. Bump up the font size or change the font altogether. Reduce the margins so you are looking at a skinny column of text instead of one spanning the screen. Sometimes a change in how the words are displayed can help you see what is actually written — not what you meant to write.
  • Put it away for a bit. Seriously. Yes, you’re on deadline. But stepping away for a few minutes, whether to spend time on a different project or just to stretch your legs, may be just what you need to bring fresh eyes and a fresh perspective to your work.

You made it — whew! With your copy editing complete, we’ve got just one more tip for the next assignment. Call Ideality! Being your own editor isn’t easy. So let our team of writing wizards and editing experts tackle your toughest projects.

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