Read your editing

My Copyediting and Proofreading Checklist says, “In any event, read every job twice.” The main reason is that I almost always miss things in my first read of a document.

Another reason is to scrutinize the results of my editing during the first read. I sometimes mistype things, make changes in the wrong place, or make an edit that doesn’t solve the problem I thought I was addressing.

What about the edits I make in the second pass on a document? I need to check them right after I’ve made them (a good idea even in the first pass). If I heavily edit part of a document during the second read, I need to pause and carefully reread that section.

Another problem area recently came to my attention: final changes made by me or someone else. One page of a document that should have been ready to print had a stray w. How did it get there? Maybe I made some minor change, checked it, saved it, and pressed Control + W to close the document—and, without noticing it, pressed W first instead of Control first—or maybe not; in that case, Microsoft Word should have asked whether I wanted to save the document before closing it (and maybe it did, and I just saved it with the new typo).

When a document is large, there probably won’t be time to reread the entire thing, and slipups in the final changes seem to be a particular hazard. Besides paying close attention, do you have any suggestions for quality control in this area? If so, please post a comment.

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