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We’ve all been there. It’s one of those days when things are missing, delayed, or disorganized. Still, the deadline looms, and you must send a professional-sounding email or actually finish that blog post. What do you do?
I’d usually suggest you let it rest a few days before doing a final edit. If you have the time, I still recommend doing that. But let’s face it–life happens. A lot. And sometimes, you don’t have that kind of time. If you find yourself wedged somewhere between the rock and the clock, here’s how to survive…without presenting something messy enough to ruin your credibility!
7 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing in a Hurry
#1: Revise, THEN Edit
When you’re disorganized and rushed, it’s too easy to revise AND proofread at the same time. Quick tip: Don’t. Just don’t. If you must revise what you’ve written, start by doing that. Next, go through the entire piece (or at least what you just revised) again, starting at the beginning.
#2: Run Spellcheck/Use an Editing Tool
“Spellcheck doesn’t catch every error, so don’t rely on it.” That’s true, in part, because it’s a tool dealing with the ever-changing flow of language. But don’t let that stop you from using it when you’re in a pinch. Run a complete spellcheck, or use an editing tool like Hemingway Editor or Grammarly.
#3: Read Out Loud
Before you hit Send or Publish, read through your final draft from start to finish…OUT LOUD. And read every. Single. Word. Reading out loud brings words off the paper, letting you catch awkward-sounding phrases, common misspellings, or tiny omissions.
#4: Edit Backwards
I discovered this tip online, and it’s great for quick edits! The point? Mix up your editing to catch mistakes that have been there so long, you don’t even notice them anymore. How? Start from the LAST paragraph of your work and edit backwards, until you’ve reached the beginning.
#5: Change Font Size
It’s amazing how much we read by sight, especially if you work with a lot of web content. The human brain puts letters and even short words into sentences that don’t actually contain them! That’s why it’s so easy to miss mistakes in your own writing. You know what it’s supposed to say, so you read those words, instead of what’s actually written. To remedy this, change the font size or page zoom, so the sentences appear in a different arraignment on the page.
#6: Check Details Again
A missing comma probably won’t ruin your career, but a mistake in the details? That just complicates already-tense situations. If you’re short on editing time, focus your efforts on important details. Ensure you’ve correctly spelled names and email addresses. Check the numbers in dates, discounts, and phone numbers. Also, make sure all links work and direct properly–you can’t be too careful!
#7: Don’t Worry Too Much
I won’t lie: Allowing enough time to edit is VERY important. But if worse-case happens and you don’t have time to edit as thoroughly as you’d like, don’t worry too much. After all, a little proofreading is better than none at all! You’ll catch the biggest errors. And if you already have a good grasp of grammar and writing, you likely didn’t make many mistakes in the first place. Besides, for blog and social media posts, you can always go back and do another edit later, if you feel it’s necessary. Otherwise, rest assured that you’ve done your best.