OK – so this is my day for the soapbox. No matter what you are writing – whether it’s an email, a report or a set of minutes for your local golf club – it’s essential to revise and edit it. It’s tempting just to bash something out and click on send or print, but think first before you do that. You’ll pretty much always find a mistake (sometimes an excrutiatingly – oops, sorry – excruciatingly embarrassing one) and it can give people a bad impression of you.

So here’s a process for revising and editing your work quickly and effectively.

Leave it and go back to it
When you’ve finished writing, go and have a cup of tea (or whatever) and then go back to it. It’s amazing how much fresh perspective this can give you, especially if you’ve been angry or stressed while you’ve been writing. You’ll immediately spot what’s working and what’s not, and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle if you’ve used the wrong tone.

Look at the big picture …
Read your first draft and keep the big picture in mind while you’re doing it. Think about the overall flow, structure and logic of what you’ve written. Do you need to cut or add anything? What’s your gut reaction? If you feel too close to it to be objective, ask a friend or colleague to read it for you and give you feedback.

… then look at the detail
Now that you can see the wood for the trees, you can look at the trees. Check for typos (words that have been typed incorrectly) and misspellings – and don’t just rely on the wiggly red lines to help you. (More about that later.) Use a good dictionary to check.

Remember to check that you’ve applied plain English principles.

Make sure that you know the difference between its and it’s, their and there, practice and practise and advice and advise and look out for any greengrocer’s apostrophe’s. (If you can’t see anything wrong with this sentence, contact me now.)

Use with caution …
Use spellchecker and autocorrect with caution. They’re fine as far as they go, but they don’t differentiate between a context that makes sense and a context that doesn’t. Google ‘autocorrect fails’ and you’ll be entertained for hours.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read it and, until next time, have a good week.