Editing takes effort and even with the best effort I labor through some articles and books. Maintaining focus takes practice and keeping focus after reading through a manuscript a handful of times takes some tricks. Here are my best practices to improve your editing.
1. Full Page Mode
To maintain focus through a long project especially I prefer to move to full page mode. First the aesthetics of the white space provides a ripe atmosphere for creative work. Second it removes distractions. Email is closed. The background is covered. There’s no quick temptation to check social media. Full page funnels the gaze to the writing at hand.
2. Change Zoom
In close connection to moving to full page mode, I also prefer to adjust the zoom. On a first read through I will zoom to 150%-175%—that keeps me from slipping into reader mode. Ever had that happen? You’re editing and you find yourself three to five pages down stream and realize you were reading as a reader, not as an editor. At 150%-175% you only get a paragraph or two at a time. It keeps you laser focused. On subsequent reads, I zoom out usually to 100%-125%. This also keeps my eyes and brain fresh on later reads.
3. Change Font
I prefer to start with a serif font like Droid Serif and switch to a sans serif like Helvetica Neue. Switching fonts will place the paragraphs and sentences on different parts of the page and will ensure your eyes don’t adjust to your project. The trick is to keep your eyes and brain guessing.
4. Read Aloud
If you feel like your inner editor is bored, distracted, or turned zombie, read your text aloud. Sometimes you can read something on the page over and over again and it seems right, but one time reading aloud you know something is off. It will also prevent your eyes from moving over familiar text. Saying the words aloud registers all sorts of red flags in your editorial lizard brain.
These friends are my four easy steps for better editing. What’s most important is finding tricks and best practices that work for you. I hope at least one of these helps you.