Efficient proofreading

10 Strategies for Efficient Proofreading and Editing

Document production consumes an enormous amount of a lawyer’s time regardless of the practice area. Up up to 40% of a lawyer’s time is dedicated to drafting efficient proofreading and editing documents. After the documents are completed, editing and proofreading may take many hours and often, mistakes are able to slip through the cracks.

A lesser amount of time spending on revising and reworking documents results in greater time to do high-value important work. Here are 10 ways that will make editing and proofreading the legal documentation you have.

1. Let Your Document Sit

It’s hard to take a break from the work you’re doing if it’s “in the zone.” However, if you’ve worked at the same thing for days or even weeks, you’ll find it difficult to spot errors. If time allows, take a break from your time to take a step back. Breaks can help you gain an enlightened view.

If you’re under a time deadline, letting the document rest for a few minutes can aid. If you do have time to make, put it aside for a night. Once you are back at your task, you’ll look at it with a fresh eye and with renewed focus.

2. Look for a Quiet Place to Work

Concentration is essential. That means that you should sit in a peaceful area in order to avoid distractions. Background noise can make it hard to concentrate–especially if you’re working from home with kids or if a partner or colleague is having a conversation in the same room.

Choose a peaceful spot away from the phone, and also without connection for the web. Connecting to the internet helps you avoid the temptation of checking for emails and also avoids distractions that distract your attention.

3. Review Your Draft in Stages

Each editing and proofreading job one at a time. Begin with structural editing, checking your text’s clarity and the flow of your message. This is the point where you are free to make major adjustments by incorporating, changing and deleting portions of text.

Next, you’ll need to do the editing of lines, in which you concentrate on reviewing each paragraph to express your message effectively. Take it step-by-step to check the spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, word choices, and more. If you attempt to find and correct too many things in one go, you could risk being distracted as well as your analysis will become not as effective.

After you have edited your line After line editing, you are able to move on to copy editing. The process involves enhancing your sentence to ensure proper syntax and grammar. Last but not least, the proofreading process, in which you look for any remaining mistakes, such as spelling mistakes or incorrect punctuation.

4. Read Your Text Aloud

Speaking your work in front of a mirror is an essential stage in editing. It forces the reader to speak every word, and to listen to the way words sound. It helps you spot the absence of words, sentences that are too long as well as unnatural shifts. Listening to your text read out loud helps to identify when things don’t seem right, even if the grammar is right. This allows you to make changes. Try letting Microsoft Word read your text aloud to you. (The automated voice makes your text feel unnatural and will allow you to detect any errors.)

The benefit of reading aloud to your child is greater when compared to reading quietly as when you read quietly you are more likely to miss mistakes or fill in the words or even make a conscious effort to correct mistakes.

5. Make sure you take regular breaks from editing

It’s difficult to stay focused in a task that requires attention for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Plan breaks when your focus decreases. Being too focused on your work makes it more difficult for the brain to recognize mistakes.

Removing yourself from the project can aid in being more objective and less emotional with your work. This way, you’ll be able to determine what you can enhance.

6. Track Your Editing Progress

You could cut down on time and stop re-evaluating the text you’ve previously reviewed by using a blank page of paper for the text you’ve not yet reviewed. It keeps your eyes from shifting and your mind to stay focused. Circle edited punctuation marks that have been confirmed, or mark the pages you’ve checked to show your progress, and prevent making the same mistake. In addition to helping you keep track of your progress, engaging with text can keep the editor engaged while editing.

7. Change Your Text Formatting

It’s tough to see the errors when staring at your document in a bright screen. If you’re staring at the exact same file, using the same font, at the same spot, within the same setting and in the same context, your brain begins to connect these familiar thoughts that prevent you from seeing errors. In order to see any errors, one must take a fresh view. Make things different. If your article is focused on the substance of your article, consider altering the spacing, size and color of your text to ensure you feel it is like something else.

8. Review Headings Separately

Instead of reading the document as they appear on the page, consider approaching the document in a different way. Check out subheadings and headings separate from the body text. If you only review the headings will help you spot the inconsistencies or errors that you may have missed. Additionally, reviewing both captions and headings separately assures that you are checking both types of texts. (Some of the biggest errors that are found in legal documents can be hidden in captions and headings.)

9. Try Backwards Editing

The idea of editing backwards may seem odd, but it’s actually a great technique to look at your documents in a fresh way. The way to do it is Reread every paragraph one at the time by reverse order beginning with the final paragraph.

If you make edits starting at the bottom of the document, you’re removing each part from context. The editing out of order can make it much easier to find gaps in transitions, or information that isn’t there. Also, it forces you to concentrate at specific phrases and words rather than being caught up with writing your work. It’s possible to spot more mistakes by looking for clarity, not content.

10. Find & Replace Repetitive Words

Do not be afraid to press CTRL + F to continuously go through your text to find common mistakes and inconsistent sentences. Utilizing the search feature highlights specific sections of your writing so that you are able to quickly spot the repetition of or recurring words. The search function will also let you know the words you’ve written and phrases in an inconsistent manner. When you’ve seen the highlighted, it is possible to substitute words for diversity or substitute inconsistencies by naming them the same way–with only two clicks.

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