A large portion of the work I do involves editing other people’s writing. Through editing work for various clients over the years, I have noticed many common mistakes that writers at all organizations make. Whether it’s a book project or a marketing brochure, the same mistakes occur.
A quick proofread of the initial draft is all most clients need to correct these common errors (and possibly reduce editing time and cost). So to help clients improve their first drafts, I’m sharing the three most common writing mistakes and how to easily look for and correct those errors:
Spelling errors. This may sound like the most obvious mistake—even too obvious—but I see spelling errors all the time. Run a spell check of your document before submitting it to an editor. Because spell check isn’t 100 percent accurate, I also recommend quickly scanning the document to catch any glaring spelling errors that spell check doesn’t catch.
Too many spaces. Most editorial styles usually require one or two spaces between sentences, but I often see two or more spaces between sentences or even extra spaces at the beginning of paragraphs. These extra spaces can easily creep in, but it’s simple to remove them, too. Just do a Find and Replace in a Microsoft Word document. In the Edit menu, select Find, then Advanced Find and Replace. Insert spaces into the Find field, and then put the correct number of spaces in the Replace field.
Comma placement. AP style omits the comma before the word “and,” while Chicago Manual of Style retains the comma before “and” in a series. If you know your organization’s style, you can do a Find and Replace for , and if you want to remove it, or a space and the word and ( and) to find instances where it may need to be added.
Of course, any editor (including me!) is happy to correct these mistakes for you—and also help you perfect your copy to best speak to your target audience.
Image credit: digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(Reposted from Dana’s Creative Services.)
ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH
Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services.