Proofreading & Editing (Wait, don't go!)

I am well aware that proofreading and editing don't sound like the world's most fascinating blog entry topics. But they're on my mind right now as I read several pieces written by colleagues. Granted these are articles for publication, so proofreading and editing are expected; the authors know that this is part of the gig. But proofreading and editing are acquirable skills, and as you write with greater frequency, necessary ones.

You may not have signed up to become a writer, but your job certainly requires it of you: funding proposals, policies and procedures, staff evaluations, community awareness campaigns, thank you notes to donors and other supporters. All of these require solid writing skills. And good quality writing reflects well on you and on your program. Part of ensuring quality is ensuring that your work is typo free, grammatically correct, clear and concise, and effective in its purpose (be that asking for money, publicizing your services or trying to recruit new staff). So proofreading and editing are essential.

My best recommendation is to find a ruthless editor; someone you trust and who you know has your best interests in mind. Let them have a crack at your work before it goes anywhere. For me, that's my business partner Val--she's detail oriented, writes well herself, and isn't afraid to let me have it with both barrels. Look around your world and see if there isn't someone who fits that bill for you.

But it wouldn't be true to my nature if I didn't also recommend turning to the Web. There's so much good stuff out there on the topic, finding strategies and resources is a snap. One of my favorites writing sites is Grammar Girl, and she has a short entry on proofreading that provides a great introduction to crafting a method for yourself. Most of us don't have a particular system for proofreading--we simply read through it and make corrections as needed. But she points out some strategies to ensure you're proofreading effectively. I employ all of them, and she's right--they do help.

For more recommendations on proofreading and editing, you can also check out some of these sites:


Submitted by thenry on

I agree Jen. Not only is it important to be able to proofread and edit effectively, it is also important to be professional at delivering and/or receiving critiques of your written work. Having a ruthless editor (or being that editor) is critical to our professional work, however it is best to have that relationship be with someone you know and trust, that will have your best interest in mind, like Jen said. Without that relationship, the writer can be devastated by the feedback. We want to help our friends and colleagues grow, learn, and become confident writers, not make them never want to write again.

These are some wonderful resources that Jen has listed and I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of them when embarking on your next writing endeavor, whatever that may be.