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Editing and Proofreading: Part One

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*Up From Down Under*

*Column Editor - Les Stephenson*
 

Up From Down Under

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Up From Down Under Up From Down Under Up From Down Under Up From Down Under Up From D

Up From Down Under Up From Down Under

Editing and Proofreading – Before You Begin

 

Do you like the look of your completed work? Nothing is more satisfying to a writer than freshly printed pages. Hardcopy is something special - it even outshines a computer screen. The printer’s output signifies a finished product.

 

Wrong.  What you’ve produced is an interim step, an opportunity to further polish and refine. Don’t be fooled by “the illusion of perfection that the printed page presents.”*

 

Seize the opportunity for a thorough edit. Tackle the task on two levels:

 

  • Macro level. The big picture.
  • Micro level. The itty-bitty parts.

 

The term editing is sometimes used to encompass the whole process, or more specifically applied to the macro level. Proofreading is the final surface polish performed once the big things have been set in concrete.

 

Before You Begin.

 

Whether it’s to be a big picture audit or micro level nit-pick, these general tips should help:

 

  1. Distance yourself from your work. No, I don’t mean run away from it. Wait. Allow some time to pass between ‘finishing’ a draft and editing/proofreading. Hide it away in a drawer for a while. Go to a movie. Whatever suits you!
  2. Think what’s best for you: computer screen or printed page. I’ve emphasised printed page in the introduction; experts seem to agree it’s a better medium for editing.
  3. Work in a quiet place free from distractions. Send the kids out with your spouse or a grandparent. Turn off the TV. Definitely, don’t try to work with pages in one hand and the vacuum cleaner in the other.
  4. Depending on your circumstances, try to accomplish the task over a few short periods of time rather than harrowing yourself with one giant effort. Keep your mind fresh. Divide the task into regular, easy-to-mentally-digest morsels.
  5. Invite, cajole, seduce or bribe a friend to help.

 

Watch for:

Part 3. Proofreading.

 

* University of Victoria, Canada http://web.uvic.ca/wguide/Pages/ProofPresentProofing.html

 

 
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