How to Be Your Own Best Copy Editor

It's ridiculously easy to do; you thought you did a good, quick sweeping of your latest post, and once it went live, realized (or someone pointed out to you) that there was some kind of formatting, typo, or general error in the feature – oops! A ton of us self-edit our posts, or worse- rely on spell check to do the job, and without having a second set of eyes to take a gander, errors can easily occur.  I get so frustrated with myself when I miss something, be it major or minor, but luckily there are some extra steps that can be taken to cut down on the mistakes and learn how to be a better copy editor to your own writing.

Here are some recommendations from the blogging community on making sure everything is looking and reading just perfect, prior to publication.

Ashley Robison of {Putting the} Ash in Fashion says:

“I'm always inclined to run away from a blog fast when I see REALLY BAD grammar or spelling.  I love writing, but don't always love editing my work.  In a pinch, I try to at least follow these few guidelines for myself;”

  • Master a few basic spelling and definition differences: your vs. you're, their vs. there vs. they're, its vs. it's.  We ALL occasionally make these mistakes– but when you make them repeatedly, you're losing your credibility as a writer.
  • Make sure your tenses are consistent. If you're writing a post in present voice, stick to it. If you're writing in the past, stay there.
  • When in doubt, trust your intuition over spell check.  There have been many times it suggests a grammar or spelling change that just didn't sit right with me. So I refer to someone else: a dictionary, a trusted friend, or a great writing handbook.


Amy Chandra of Midtown Girl shares:

“I preview my posts before hitting the publish button (I use WordPress as my blogging platform). I occasionally add a ‘totes' or an ‘adorbs' in my posts for a lighthearted touch, but I always double check to make sure my grammar is correct.  One of my go-to sites for proper use of the English language is Grammar Girl's “Quick & Dirty Tips,” which explains common errors in English grammar. It's like having an extra set of editing eyes at your fingertips.”


Rachel Adler of Beauty High advises:

“Since most people who work online have to self-edit, the best advice I can give is to slow down and take a minute to read over your post. You can't always rely on spell check to catch your errors, and in this world of trying to be the first to publish, most of the time taking a deep breath after you write and doing a nice skim of your post can save you from making a silly mistake.”


What other tips would you recommend in improving self-editing skills?



About the Author:

Julia DiNardo blog at Fashion Pulse Daily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

25 Responses

  1. Kristina Fe

    I ALWAYS have a second person look over my post before its published.

    This is a great article,
    I agree that it’s important to have correct spelling and grammar. The easier it is to read the better (:

  2. Lexi

    This is super embarrassing, but when I made my round up of my best posts of 2012, one of the title images I made had a spelling mistake in it that I didn’t catch until I was trying to post the image to Facebook.

    The worst part is I didn’t save it as a Photoshop image so I had to go back and re-do the entire image to correct the mistake. Thankfully no one noticed (or at least no one called me out on it!)

    Maybe sure to double and triple check text on your images too, not just your content!

  3. The Neon Factor

    Great tips, something that I always do is type it all out, read over it, then step away. I usually save it then come back in an hour or so and re-read it one last time before publishing.

  4. Nasreen

    One thing that helps not only in a blog post but in assignments, homework etc, is reading ALOUD. When I do that I realize something just doesnt sound right, you notice mistakes more easily. Also, if you’ve been writing the post for awhile it’s easy to read over mistakes, so come back to the post in a few minutes 🙂

  5. Kristen @ A Modern Mrs.

    Honestly, I’ve found taking a short break between finishing a post and hitting the publish button to be a great thing! I have a few distracting moments to run an errand, browse the internet, complete a chore, etc., and during that time a re-phrase comes to mind… or a format change… or my inner Thesaurus comes into play and I come up with a great alternative to a descriptive word I wasn’t so happy with! I’ll finish a post, proofread, then take a break, and when I come back to make a few changes, the post is golden!

    • Julia Dinardo

      Great idea Kristen; taking a little break certainly can give that sometimes much-needed few minutes to reflect and rethink things a bit!

  6. Becky |

    I totally agree with Ash’s point – I know it sounds trivial but I can’t bear bad grammar, it’s so lazy! I know we all make mistakes but if a blogger can’t be bothered to run a simple spellcheck before clicking publish, it doesn’t bode well for the amount of thought and effort they put into their posts. My ultimate bugbear is “a lot” written as “alot”!

  7. India

    I always check my posts again just after they go live, then again the day after to catch any typos/grammatical that may have slid their way in.

  8. Alli

    I think a fresh pair of eyes is the way to go. It seems I can always zero in on another blogger’s mistakes and skip right over my own. So I read each post three times and then, my sweet hubby reads it once before I publish it.

    I actually wrote about this subject last week. I entitled it “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” It’s all about typos and grammatical errors. 🙂

  9. Daniel

    I’m guilty of not always staying in the past when starting a post in the past! However, I do check back on my posts a day or two after they’ve been published to ensure I’ve cleared up an initial mistakes and I’d advise others to do the same. It really does help!

  10. Maria @CrashingRed

    English is my second language. So it’s quite difficult for me to be perfect all the time. I get my BF to check for me. But often he can’t. The easiest way to avoid mistakes is to write less (haha wish i could just write nothing like AtlanticPacific does). Also using short sentences and words that you know how to spell helps.

  11. Shayna

    This is such great advice! It is so important to get the grammar correct in posts – I am guilt of closing a blog I am reading for the first time after the first or second grammatical error I come across.
    For me, it helps to write my posts way before I actually post them. Just for practice, I end up writing about 3 or 4 blog posts and maybe 1 or 2 will actually make it up on my blog. This way, I can make sure it is absolutely perfect before going up! 🙂


  12. Joshua

    I always read my posts several times before publishing and I make an effort to write my content in a word processing program at least a few days in advance so that I can take some time away and re-read it with fresh eyes, which is always helpful. I naturally write elaborately constructed sentences, rife with flourish (which is great for research papers, but not so much for blog content), so I always have a second person read it through to make sure I am staying on message while being as clear and concise as possible.

    Inevitably, a mistake will slip by now and again so I find it helpful to check back on my posts at the end of every week to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Lastly, I check my posts on all of the browsers I can to makes sure that my formatting looks good across different platforms so that my readers can all have the same experience.

  13. Jason Darrell

    Two things that I find incredibly helpful are planning ahead and an editorial diary.
    Whilst it can be sometimes impossible with a breaking story, if you’re writing a how-to or reference article, write it at least two days before it’s due to be published.

    There are editorial calendars available as plug-ins for WordPress, but an Excel template is just as handy, especially one that you can migrate into your GMail calendar.

    This practise allows two things:-
    1. By planning your blog posts ahead, you can ensure you have a broad sweep of all of the categories/keywords your blog is targeting
    2. But most importantly, from an editorial point of view, you give your time work to settle. When you return to an article after a good night’s kip (let’s face it, if blogging is incidental to your marketing plan, most marketers leave it until the last minute), the errors will appear in ten foot high letters.

    Furthermore, the sense of achievement in seeing a full editorial calendar is a boon to pushing yourself harder, raising your blogging goals and making you feel more at ease with the art.

    And you do away with that Dementor who haunts you when you know you’ve got to publish an article in two hours and the page before you has 20 autosaves, but not one word of content. That in itself is worth the effort of planning your blogging week.

  14. Andrew

    Great post! I have been guilty of some grammar mishaps, and will definitely take some time looking at Grammar Girl’s “Quick & Dirty Tips”.

  15. Loulou

    Great post and I honestly don’t mean to be a smart alec, but I think you made a mistake in this piece. Your last sentence, before going to Ashley’s advice, should include the word ‘perfectly’ rather than ‘perfect’.

    Feel free to correct it and delete my comment if you want, but this goes to show that being your own copy editor is really hard! I think we all have to be understanding of this before we click away from someone’s post because of errors, unless the error is repeated, or there are several in one post.

    • Julia Dinardo

      Hi Loulou,

      Yes, I see what you mean; the first few times I read it I thought “perfect” was “perfect” but since you pointed it out, “perfectly” seems to fit in even better! See; even in a post about being your own copy editor, there are still things that can be caught and changed! 😉

  16. Alyssa

    This was a great post!

    One thing that I find bloggers often overlook is the full spelling and formatting of designer names. Double check how designers or name brands spell (and format – sometimes lower case letters are used to stylize) their names. I know it sounds like a no-brainer but I have completely dropped blogs who don’t take the time to correctly spell a designer name.

  17. Musank

    I agree with taking a step back to preview the post and speed-read before publishing the post. I also like to re-read published posts one hour, one day, or one week later and sometimes still find things I can fix on the posts 🙂