A few years ago, there was a joke among fanfiction writers. I don’t have any screenshots and have since stopped using Tumblr, but the joke was essentially about how you only find mistakes after hitting “publish” on a story.
There’s a reason for this, and it isn’t last-second panic about searching for mistakes. Because the font typed in is oftentimes different from the font published in, it makes for a different visual. In simpler terms: it’s fresher to the eyes, so it’s easier to find mistakes.
The lesson here can be used for editing of all kinds, and it’s rather simple: change what you’re looking at.
By changing the font or printing the piece, you’re creating a change of pace and providing a fresh look. Of course, another solution is to come back to the piece later, but that doesn’t always work.
My preferred method used to be changing the font, but after working at a writing center as a tutor where we always work on paper pieces, I’ve begun using the print method as well. There’s something nice about it, even if I struggled at the start.
However, they both have their pros and cons. When I work on a computer, it’s quicker to change mistakes as I find them, and I don’t feel bad about using paper. The downside is that my eyes often felt strained, since I spend a lot of time in front of a screen.
When I work on paper, I find it easier to see the overall “look” of the document and find places where I repeated or left out an idea. The downside to this is the lack of a find feature, which I compensate for by searching for words or phrases after I’ve done my initial edit.
Whichever method you prefer, make sure you’re comfortable yet flexible. I used to only edit my essays on paper but kept my creative works on the computer, but now I’m beginning to lean towards switching them. Don’t confine yourself to a single method simply because it has “always worked.” It is essential to try new things, especially when it comes to something that many people find boring.
I recommend an amusing font or one that is drastically different from the original. The former is just for fun; the latter is likely to work better.
What other editing tips do you use or know about? What’s your favorite font to use for editing? (Mine is Comic Sans.)
As an end note, there’s always the freelance editor route. If you’re interested, might I suggest looking at the staff? We all have our own specific talents.