Grammar Editing Tip |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Editing Tip

Let’s visit the terms editing, proofreading, and formatting.

  • Focus on editing first, checking the content for cohesiveness, clarity, paragraph structure, and overall structure.
  • When you’re satisfied with the content, focus on proofreading, looking for consistency in formatting, margins, text styles, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Finally, focus on formatting, ensuring consistency in the document’s appearance.
  • Within each stage of review, plan on multiple levels of review.
  • Don’t look for everything at once; pick a task. Make a list of what you know are your weaknesses. Focus on each of those areas, one at a time.
  • Read out loud, slowly, and listen to how the words sound together.
  • Have someone else read your document. After rereading your own work several times, it is embedded in your mind. Your brain goes on autopilot causing your eyes to just skim over what it’s seeing yet again.

A few more pointers:

  • Start at the very top of the document; don’t overlook a single element. Some of the most common mistakes are in headings, addresses, salutations, etc.
  • Work in a quiet place where you’ll have no distractions or interruptions. Trying to “pick up where you left off” after an interruption can set you back as you try to regain your focus.

By Linda Meehan, Editor,

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2 responses to “Editing Tip”

  1. Melanie Steyn says:

    I am editing the biography of a South African activist who was a leader in the 1940s. He and his comrades always spoke of trades unions (the veterans of the struggle still do), but I only know the term trade union. Should I stick to their usage? One of the problems is that apostrophes become a headache. Is it possible, in various sentences, to need trade’s union, trades’ unions, trade union’s and/or trades unions’? It’s a minefield, and any advice and guidance will be gratefully received.

    • The term “trade union” or “labor union” is commonly used in the U.S., while “trades union” is used in Commonwealth countries. If the author uses the term “trades unions,” we recommend keeping that spelling. You may well need an apostrophe depending on the context, e.g., The trades union’s efforts [a singular union, if such a term is used] OR trades unions’ efforts [more than one union] led to better working conditions.

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