How to: Edit and Proofread

Ian Lurie

Editing and proofreading are a pain in the tuchus. I want to get someone else to read my work. But face it: Most of the time I’ve waited until the last minute. Everyone around me is busy. I have one hour to get this report/blog post/whatever out the door.

Here’s my real-world editing routine, taught to me by a great writer back in 19muttermutter:

  1. Read the document one paragraph at a time, starting at the end. By doing that, I separate them and force myself to read each one. It ensures I don’t skim over words and phrases I’ve already read lots of times.
  2. Read the document one sentence at a time, starting at the end.
  3. Read the document one word at a time, starting at the end.
  4. Run the document through Hemingway.
  5. Run the document through Grammarly.
  6. Read it forwards.
  7. Verify links. I sometimes use Check My Links, but it’s pretty distracting. Clicking each link works, too.
  8. Bow three times to the statues of E. B. White and William Strunk, Jr.
  9. Click publish and hope for the best.

It’s not perfect, but it catches some of the real groaners.

Apply at your own risk.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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