Editing your own creative work could sometimes seem intimidating, mainly because looking at your own work with a critical eye is not as easy as it seems. It’s not just about spelling and grammar. Editing is a skill that sometimes requires you to get rid of even your most favorite terms and terminologies. To be a great editor, you would have to detach yourself from your own script and get acquainted with the ‘backspace’ button.
Here are the three stages of manuscript writing:
Content or Substantive Edit
This is the most time-consuming part of manuscript editing. Remember, there is always a better way to present your manuscript. Start by giving yourself some time away from your script so that you can develop a fresh take on what you’ve written. The focus of your editing exercise this time should be on the structural aspect, and you would need to pay attention to what works well and what looks awry. Revisit your overall paper at least three times, pay attention to the text, data, accuracy, and overall consistency and presentation. A professional subject matter editor always takes care of the content issues to make sure your writing is ready to be submitted for publication.
Once you have dealt with the structural errors by making the necessary revisions, it’s time to copy edit your paper to ensure correct formatting, grammar, margins, font size, etc. This includes all things technical and presentation-based. Copy editing requires you to pay attention to the tone, language, phrasing, parts of the speech, undue repetitions, etc. A copy edit makes your work free of any technical errors that might be a hindrance at the acceptance stage in the publication cycle. It is indeed a skill, and good copy-editing includes eliminating any wordiness in order to improve readability. Even though copy editing does not take as much time as a content edit, you would still be required to give a good amount of your time to this.
Proofreading is the third stage in editing your manuscript. Unlike copy edit and content edit, this stage requires you to separate your text into sections, and concentrate on one section at a time. You can consider printing a hard copy if reading online is a problem. By now, you must have clearly understood the focus of the overall paper; therefore at this stage, you must examine each sentence individually for syntax, spelling, and grammar. You should recheck any dates, data, names of people, places, etc. that you have mentioned in the text to ensure accuracy.
We live in a world of technology, and a lot of things become easier with the resources available online. To support your manuscript editing skill, do not hesitate to refer to online applications or websites that might come handy to do minor language, spelling, and phrasing edits. Also, it is advisable to let peers re-read your scripts before starting the edit to incorporate third-party suggestions.