How to Edit – A Guide to Sound More Intelligent Than You Actually Are (and to Learn the Art of Writing Shorter Titles)

I’ve always hated group projects.

Oh it’s all good when I’m the only one who wanted to do the project (or the only one who was capable). Ever wondered how dictatorship felt? I simple had to sit on my throne (read: the table) and imperiously demand stuff to be done and watch, thrilled, as the commoners scuttled off to do my bidding (while I cackled).

When everyone has a mind though, and are prepared to use it (vehemently), there is usually yelling, fighting and throwing people out of windows. Not specifically in that order. One reason I legitimately have to hate group projects is because the editing job almost always falls on me. Mistakes can be excused to an extent because meeting someone with English as their mother tongue in our state is like meeting a wood nymph. But, as I said, to an extent.

Take these two geniuses, for example—

“You are my angle.”

& “Exercise is good for body. As a maater of fact, it helps the body goodly.”

And I go—

So as you’ve read in the title, this post is to rectify a major headache of mine because I’m going to rule the world someday anyway, might as well start making me be pleased with you.


  • One major rule of editing is to get distance from the writing. Don’t try and proofread your writing when you have just completed it. You would already be mentally drained and since what you’ve written would still be fresh in your mind, you would accidentally start skipping some mistakes and read the sentences which have a mistakes in them without those. The very best thing to avoid this is to hand the editing business to someone competent and hope with fingers crossed that they don’t trash it.


  • If you are someone who prefers reading printed material but can write only on paper (like me), don’t procrastinate and type it up. There’s a good chance there will be a lot of mistakes if you had been writing without thinking (so as not to stifle creativity. That’s me, hello). I mostly do this type of proofreading and edit about five time—once after writing the thing on paper, once before typing it up on the computer, once when Word shows me those squiggly red lines, once after printing it out and a last one or two times when friends (very grimly) ask, “What the hell have you written? Where’d you hit your head?”
NOOOOOOOOOOO!! Credit: Onidenki (DeviantArt)
Credit: Onidenki (DeviantArt)


  • If you are short on time, you can change the text style and format of the writing. If the writing seems new or odd to you, your brain will focus more on that specific thing and pick out mistakes more easily. If you  are short   of time, you can change  the    text style   and formet of   the    If the    writing  seems new or   odd   to  you, you’re     brain will focus more on that     specific thing  and and   pick out   mistakes more   easily. Also, don’t give up on a sentence because it seems too obvious or too hard. Did you did you not make out the mistakes in the sentences above?


  • If it’s a long document, don’t proofread all at once. If you are someone who honestly goes, “Yay! More mistakes to correct!” [You’re nerdier(er) than nerds, buddy] then I assume the length of the document won’t matter. Otherwise though, you will be trying to read the thing and mostly be going, “That’s a word. That’s okay. Oh, another word that’s okay. Oh my, that’s a daymn fiiine word.” My point is, proofread in chunks and there will be fewer mistakes.


  • Last point, but not the least. Are you ready for this? How to learn the art of writing shorter titles/articles/stories? Edit out what is unnecessary. Writing romantic prose but don’t want to bore your readers? Nobody wants to know to know the hundred ways she bites her ruby lips, darl, so delete more than half of that. Have to stay within a given word limit? Cut out the superfluous words, or replace lots of words with a single word. Too long a sentence? Break it up. Too long a title? Again, edit out what is unnecessary. For instance, I could have simply written, ‘How to Edit’ rather than the one you see now, but blog readers are tough customers. You need to reel them in. In the end, you have to know what works and what doesn’t and keep in mind where you’ll be publishing your article.

So there’s that. A way to sound more intelligent than you actually are. The written word is always more beautiful when the poem you sent your crush does not make them feel they are getting hit on by a fifth grader.

Though if you do write like a fifth grader, the only thing I can tell you is to find a good language/grammar teacher or to request me to have you legally killed by my beta bush monsters.



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