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June 25, 2012 / diannegray

Neat editing trick

It can be really difficult to proof your own work. You’ve looked at it too many times and as your eyes move over the words your brain fills in the gaps because you’ve already got the story in your head. It can be so frustrating when you’ve read a piece several times and someone says ‘you’re missing the word it on page 3’, or ‘you’ve got her said instead of he said on page 156’. I’ve read the thing ten bloody times! How could I have missed these?

But it is very easy to miss these mistakes and over the years I’ve learned a neat trick when I’m proofing electronic copies of my work.

I ‘select all’, choose a font that I’m not familiar with and enlarge the font size. It’s amazing what you see because your eyes aren’t used to the font and you have to read every word. It works for me every time  – and I’m hoping there are no mistakes in this piece 🙂

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20 Comments

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  1. Joe Pineda / Jun 25 2012 5:55 pm

    I’ll definitely have to try it. I always miss those infuriating little details.

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  2. Daphne Shadows / Jul 4 2012 9:04 pm

    I normally edit with the hard copy – too much time on the computer and my eyes threaten to boycott. But maybe I could keep to revisions on hard copy and try this with just straight editing. Sounds like it would work, thanks!

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    • diannegray / Jul 4 2012 9:36 pm

      Hi Daphne – you’re right, it’s a lot easier to edit hard copy (yes, the eyes do get a hammering if they’re fixed on the screen for too long) so printing the story in a different font is a great idea. My biggest misses of small words like ‘and’ and ‘is’ are usually at the end of a row and when I change font the missng words are easier to pick up. I’ve been working in comms for a lot of years where I proof and edit other people’s work – but when it’s my own work and I’ve looked at it a gazillion times it seems so much harder to pick up mistakes;)

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      • Daphne Shadows / Jul 4 2012 9:49 pm

        Yes, instead of your brain reading what’s in front of you, it reads what you remember writing. Drives me nuts! My usual issue is mixing small words up, like meaning “from” but writing (and missing in the edits that I wrote) “form”.

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      • diannegray / Jul 5 2012 8:11 am

        Exactly right – and the problem with form and from is your spell checker won’t pick it up!

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  3. avwalters / Jul 7 2012 4:31 pm

    I do the dame thing with my blog, I don’t see the mistakes in the post-box, but when it goes up–there they are!

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    • diannegray / Jul 7 2012 9:06 pm

      That’s frustrating. I usually makes the most mistakes in my replies and then I can’t figure out how to take it back or edit it

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  4. Sharon McGill / Jul 8 2012 2:46 am

    This is a handy trick. I realized it after I formatted my novel into an e-version for my beta readers and then reviewed it on a previewer (I don’t have an e-reader myself). I discovered I’d dropped whole words–even after several re-reads of a printed draft. I pride myself on my proofing skills, so it was quite a shocker!

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    • diannegray / Jul 8 2012 2:51 am

      Totally agree, Sharon. It’s amazing what you find when you’re reading with a different line of sight!

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  5. leighkgb02 / Jul 8 2012 6:14 pm

    Oh, thank the good Lord! Thank you, thank you, THANK you. You just saved me days and months of frustrated suffering in the near future!

    Leigh.

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    • diannegray / Jul 8 2012 10:41 pm

      Thanks Leigh – let me know if you need any other tips or shortcuts 🙂

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      • leighkgb02 / Jul 9 2012 6:26 pm

        For sure, for sure! (And again, thank you! Haha, 🙂 )

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  6. Russel Ray Photos / Jul 10 2012 5:25 am

    That was one of the first tricks I learned when I started my desktop publishing business back in 1978.

    Two other tricks:

    1 – Print the article, put it away in a dark closet, cabinet, or drawer, leave it for 24 hours, and then get it out to proofread. Errors will jump off the page at you screaming, “Here I am! Here I am!”

    2 – Make the article the last thing you work on one day and the very first thing you work on the next day. I finish my work and then turn the computer off so that I don’t have the urge to just look at it one more time. The next morning, before shower/shave/breakfast/newspaper/etc., I proof my work from last night. Again, errors jump off the page.

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    • diannegray / Jul 10 2012 8:09 am

      Thanks, Ray! It’s great to get know all these tricks!

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  7. Tim J / Jul 14 2012 12:56 pm

    This trick sounds brilliant. I’ve not tried it, but I can see that it would work—everything will look unfamiliar again so you’ll notice things instead of skipping over them.

    I think it’s more of a proofreading trick than an editing trick though: for me the choice of font has quite a big effect on the feel of a piece of writing, and I think changing from a different font might actually make me change the way I phrase things. (Not sure about this, but I think it could happen.)

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    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 7:59 pm

      Thanks Tim – and you’re right – it is proofreading! 🙂

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  8. Sydney (The Young Novelist) / Jul 14 2012 11:35 pm

    I’m definitely doing this when I’m done writing my novel. This is a great piece of advice:)

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    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 11:53 pm

      Hi Sydney – glad I can be of some help!

      Good luck with ‘Running from the Sight’

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  9. awspettifer / Jul 20 2012 1:43 am

    “You’ve looked at it too many times and as your eyes move over the words your brain fills in the gaps because you’ve already got the story in your head.” I had just said this same quote almost word for word to my girl friend when I tried to get her to read my story. Lucky I am just starting out with the story so there is not much to prof yet, but I still have a lot more to prof before I publish. Even then I still never believe it is truly finished.

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    • diannegray / Jul 20 2012 7:04 am

      Hey Aaron – you’ve just bought up a really important point that I want to blog about sometime – when does the story end! Sometimes when I finish writing a book I go over it and over it and then realise there’s got to be a time when I stop looking at it and editing it!
      Best of luck with your story:) You’re lucky you’ve got your girlfriend there to read it and check for edits – that’s a big plus!

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