General tips for revising, editing, and proofreading
- Build in time for revision in your planning!
- Leave your work to rest for a couple of days before you start revising or editing. This way, you take some distance from it, which makes it easier to spot mistakes4, 8. It is also easier to delete text when you have taken some distance from it8.
- Work together with a peer and give feedback on each other’s work. This will benefit you both as it is easier to spot and correct mistakes in someone else’s text8.
- Try to read your text from your audience’s point of view4.
- Read your text out loud to spot unclear sentences15. Additionally, reading out loud will slow you down a bit, which prevents you from missing errors/mistakes.
It is easy to lose track of changes you or others make to your text in the revision phase. To retain an overview, it can be extremely useful to use editing tools such as the track changes function in MS Word. For a step-by-step manual on how to use track-changes in MS Word, see this website.
- Always use track changes and comments when you are revising and do not manually highlight/strikeout/underline/change text colour to indicate changes. Track changes and comments are easily searchable; manual changes, however, are not. You might miss manual changes when editing since you are familiar with the document and have read over it many times, making them invisible to you.
- Use the comment function for suggestions and explanations.
- Clean up your track changes and comments periodically, for example after each round of editing.
- Use Hide or Reveal Markup in MS Word to spot errors such as multiple spaces, missing or excess periods and commas in a heavily edited document.
- Track changes and reference management tools do not always go well together. Therefore, temporarily turn off track-changes when you are adding or changing references. Alternatively, you add the final references after you have finished editing.
- Use track-changes when making improvements on text written by someone else. This way, the original text is traceable as well as who made the suggestions.
- Use comments to explain why you made certain suggestions and to provide information to your co-authors.
- Appoint someone to accept all changes that are left after a round of editing. Often, people are reluctant to make ‘final’ changes. However, if the track changes are still there after a while, everyone should agree with them, and it should be okay to accept them.
- Make sure everyone is using a similar software. Although track changes in MS Word work well between MS Word versions for Mac and Windows, they do not with other software such as Google Docs. You can for example all use the browser version of MS Word in online MS Office.