To edit your own work, you need to know what to look out for. Edit for overall structure and content first, then copy-edit or sub-edit to check spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Be aware of these mistakes
- Be aware of your own common typos. Is there a word you always mis-spell or a keystroke combination you always mis-type?
- Be aware of inconsistencies in style and format in documents written over a long period of time, such as a thesis. Use a style sheet to maintain consistency.
- Be aware of work written when you are tired, stressed or rushed, and carefully check work written in these conditions.
- Be aware of changes made at the last minute. These are more likely to have mistakes as you may not have looked at this work as often as other parts of the document.
- Print your work and edit a hard copy, instead of on-screen.
- Read your work from beginning to end several times, checking different aspects each time – spelling and punctuation, then references, then formatting such as heading styles, then non-text elements such as tables and figures.
- Check it if you’re not sure. It’s easy to use your favourite search engine to check spellings, meanings or details such as dates.