How to: Edit and Proofread

Ian Lurie Jun 3 2016

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.


  1. Aimee Jarboe

    Aimee Jarboe

    10. Sit in front of your Twain/Vonnegut collection and weep.

    Or is that just me?

    • For me, that’s when I read other company’s ad copy.

      • Aimee Jarboe

        Aimee Jarboe

        Give me a sec, there was splash damage from that burn.

        • …And I win this thread. Woo hoo!!!!

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