6 Solid Tips For Self-Proofing and Editing Success
We all know you should at least find a good proof-reader. Love them, send them flowers, buy them coffee and cake, but most importantly pay them to proof your post before you hit publish, riddled with grammatical errors your spell-check didn’t catch.
We all know, a lot of the time we don’t do that. Well…I don’t. I’m guilty of hitting ‘publish’ and then finding errors; lucky they’re quick and easy to fix in an online platform. Print media isn’t quite so forgiving.
I think first of all we need to tackle the issue of:
If you don’t know how or when to use a hyphen, the results can be, well, kinda embarrassing. Kansas paper the Pratt Tribute found out the hard way with this pearler of a headline:
“Students get first hand job experience”.
Say what now?
The headline was photographed, shared on twitter and sparked a grammarian’s gout of fussing and feuding over the placement of that Horrendous Hyphen.
Should it be ‘first hand’, ‘first-hand’, or — compound it! — should it be ‘firsthand’?
Importantly, is it ‘hand job’, ‘hand-job’, or ‘handjob’??? AND…
What’s The Hyphen’s Job?
According to Grammarly, the rules are:
A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark that’s used to join words or parts of words. It’s not interchangeable with other types of dashes.
[Hi, its’ me. Dashes are longer and have different uses, like sep-ar-a-ting syll-a-bles, or a narrative function I’m quite fond of — because it emulates speech so well. Back to Grammarly for the rest]
Use a hyphen in a compound modifier when the modifier comes before the word it’s modifying.
If you’re not sure whether a compound word has a hyphen or not, check your preferred dictionary.
According to Jennifer Zeven, the rules are:
I know words like ‘something’ and ‘tomorrow’, began as ‘some-thing’ and ‘to-morrow’, but personally I’m cautious about conjoining words.
So, although it’s clearly ‘hand-job’ (pfft, grammatical Philistines) — a good rule of thumb for Horrendous Hyphens is to pick one option and be consistent. So if you see I’m ignoring Grammarly, that’s why.
A good proof-reader is worth investing in, but let’s just go with the idea that many of us proof and edit our own work. Here are some tips on how to do it AND get good results.
6 Solid Tips For Those Who Won’t Pay The Proofer
1. Wait 24 Hours Before Proofing and Editing
2. Change Fonts
3. Proof-Reading and Editing Are Not The Same Thing
4. Read It Out
5. Repeat Steps 1 – 4
6. Don’t Be Drunk
Hemingway Didn’t Practice What He Preached
“Write drunk, edit sober” said a man who wasn’t Hemingway.
Jeff Goins goes on to say in an article which busts the myth of Hemingway being on the whiskey at work like Donald Draper –“If he did say it, he certainly didn’t practice what he preached”.
Oh. Ok. Why did a little part of me just die inside?
I guess the lazy, lush tendencies inside me shriveled up a little when I read Hemingway didn’t write drunk. That hard work and solid routine (plus talent) were the secrets to Hemingway’s success; that brilliance is more than a few drinks away. But really, hangovers are bad enough without looking at your own words and thinking ‘WTF?’.
For us mortal writers, the fearless freelancers, the sturdy start-ups, the storytellers — we know we should hire a proof-reader. But for one reason or another, we don’t always practice what we preach. So if you find yourself in a proof-readerless bind, give my 6 Solid Tips On Self Proofing And Editing With Success a crack.
Blogging and opinion pieces are my superpowers, but if you do want more actual fresh eyes on your work, I’m a cracking good proof-reader and an even better editor.