Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide for Better Writing

Online Proofreading Guide. Photo Credit – Flickr: tonxA proofreading guide is like a dessert menu.

It presents the third course to your creation meal that involved writing as a first course and editing as a second course.

Since proofreading is the last step you take before publishing, it’s obviously an important one—you want to ensure perfection.

It’s heartbreaking to find an error in a final document that has already been released for the world to see.

But before proofreading is the most appropriate revision procedure, there are important steps that you can take during the writing process to make sure your message is strong and direct.

Unlike the first edition of my proofreading guide, which only explained proofreading techniques, the second edition of Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide also establishes methods to keep your thoughts clear and organized while you write and edit. [Read more…]

The Differences Between Copy Editing, Proofreading, and Reading

Copy Editing, Proofreading. Photo Credit – Flickr: Terry FreedmanThe differences between copy editing, proofreading, and reading are commonly considered subtle.

For instance, if I happened to mention in conversation that I’m a “freelance proofreader and copy editor,” it may seem that I’m referring to the same occupation.

In contrast, if I said that I’m a “neuroscientist and farmer,” it would appear that I have two separate careers.

It is clear that neuroscience and farming are different practices that require distinct educational prerequisites, skills, and expertise.

The technical differences between copy editing and proofreading are too boring to explain, and I’ve created Revision Fairy proofreading services so that you can invest in producing a quality product without having to pinpoint the exact type of help you need before I review your work.

If you know you need to specifically hire a copy editor or proofreader, you may already know the differences between copy editing and proofreading.

If you don’t know the differences between the two activities, and aren’t seriously interested in hiring a professional proofreader, you may regard both copy editing and proofreading as just reading and making some corrections. [Read more…]

Help Support 826LA, a Non-Profit Writing & Tutoring Center for Students

Help Support 826LAWhy would I be happy if you haven’t bought How to Overcome Heartbreak Without Projectile Vomiting yet?

Because June is the perfect time to get a copy for only $5!

Half of all June book sales will benefit 826LA, a non-profit writing and tutoring center for students ages 6 to 18.

After-school tutoring, creative writing workshops, and field trips are some of the on-site activities 826LA offers that are all free to the communities they serve. There are two Los Angeles locations: Mar Vista and Echo Park.

I’ve volunteered with 826LA since 2011, so when I prepared to release How to Overcome Heartbreak Without Projectile Vomiting: A Guide for Cynical Hopeless Romantics, I wanted a portion of the sales to go to the organization.

Since the book is digital, and you can download it instantly, you don’t have to be a local to get it or wait for anything to be sent to you in the mail.

Your quick-and-easy purchase will help support endeavors that make learning fun for students.

Plus, I hear children are our future. [Read more…]

Revision Strategies Recap 2012

Revision Strategies. Photo Credit – Flickr: remediate.thisHow often do you hope that everything will be “perfect” right away?

Are you frustrated if your expectations for a situation aren’t immediately met?

Writing is an artistic craft that requires many different forms of corrections before you produce a final product that satisfies your intentions.

You can also apply a focused revision strategy in life as a way to consistently participate in the creation of your reality.

If you don’t get something “right” on the first try, do you review your actions, evolve your outlook, and try new things—molding and shaping your existence until it’s closer to what you want it to look like?

Or do you give up your personal responsibility to make necessary improvements? Or give in when your efforts seem futile, conforming your behavior to match the external chaos?

The process of evolution is just that—a process—not a quick fix. [Read more…]

Comma Chameleon: When to Use a Comma

When to Use a Comma. Photo Credit – Flickr: duncanNothing like a little Culture Club pun to liven up an otherwise dense conversation about when to use a comma, right?

A subscriber recently wrote me this interesting question about overwhelming comma rules:

Dear Stefanie,

I write textbooks and often get pulled up for my comma usage. I was always taught that it marks a pause in the sentence but this rule doesn’t seem to work all the time.

A lot of comma usage can be down to individual taste it seems and you might be a heavy or light user. I think there may also be some US/UK differences (I am from the UK by the way).

I have consulted the Chicago Manual of Style and I see that there are endless pages on how to use commas in a variety of different situations.

To get to my point, I was wondering if you had a simple guide for comma usage that works and isn’t overly complicated to put into practice.

Thanks for your help. [Read more…]

Are Your Goals Stifling Your Strengths?

Discover Your Strengths. Photo Credit – Flickr: sbpoetWhen asked about persistence despite failures and unfavorable circumstances, I once heard Lady Gaga say (I’m paraphrasing):

“If I had given up, this wouldn’t be what I’m supposed to be doing.”

She knew that pop stardom was bubbling in her blood and no setback was going to keep her from achieving that goal.

Achievements aren’t always easy. They take work. Lots of hard work. Nothing new or shocking about that.

However, what you think you want can often block harmonious circumstances from entering your life. [Read more…]

What Happens When You Get What You Want?

Envy. Photo Credit – Flickr: annalise.ellenSo, someone else has got what you want.

What are you going to do about it?

Let’s pretend you’re eight years old and drawing with a green crayon. You desperately want to draw with an orange crayon, but only ten-year-old art students get to draw with orange crayons.

Your art project would be just perfect if you had that color. You can feel it. You know how great it would be.

The orange crayon is perfection in its unrealized state.

Since your teacher has always admired your drawings, you ask him if he could give you an orange crayon to complete your idea (even though it’s against the rules). [Read more…]

Permission to Be Bad, Real Bad, Michael Jackson

Photo Credit – Flickr: dBRYJ MusicWriting a rough draft is not only a necessary step, it’s the most important part of writing.

Keeping ideas in your head stifles the creative process.

You have to write your thoughts so that you can manipulate them properly.

If you try to perfect every detail in your mind, your work won’t reach the level of greatness that it can when you edit your ideas in the physical world.

Once you have a draft, you have the invaluable opportunity to review your creation and say to yourself, “That really doesn’t make sense. How can I make it better?”

But the fear of sounding bad can often make a writer freeze up.

If it doesn’t sound perfect right away, there’s no point of writing at all. You’ve failed at writing. Perfection or nothing. A pretty common insecurity, right? [Read more…]

What a Blog Without Comments Can Teach You About Managing Your Workload

Before I published content on this site, the concept of adding a “blog” to my workload was daunting.

Responding to reader comments and filtering spam is time consuming. I didn’t know if I could commit to it.

So, I created an outlet for my writing that is more like a traditional newspaper or magazine. I don’t have a comments section following my articles.

In the days of old media, you didn’t have the chance to sound off right away. If you wanted to comment on an article or feature, you had to write a Letter to the Editor.

And only a few select letters were published in the next edition.

What part of this process appeals to me? [Read more…]

5 Shortcuts for Proofreading Documents in Record Time

Proofreading Documents. Photo Credit – Flickr: jayneanddIn the past, I’ve provoked some outraged responses when I’ve written tips about proofreading your own documents.

Variations of “You simply can’t find your own writing mistakes! You need someone else to proofread your work for you!” have echoed through blog comments when I’ve addressed this apparently taboo topic.

I understand the sentiment, but I think that the benefits of working with a freelance copy editor or proofreader are obvious.

When a writer can also proofread like a professional proofreader, she is in a unique position to create a product that communicates her exact intentions. [Read more…]

12 Editing Solutions When Your Writing Isn’t Good Enough

Editing Solutions. Photo Credit – Flickr: Sharon DrummondDoubt.

If you’re a writer, the d-word plagues you daily.

Is your writing good enough? Is your writing ever going to be good enough?

Writing confidently is more than just feeling good about the thoughts that exit your brain and form neatly arranged words in a document.

To remove doubt, old-fashioned TLC has to be an integral part of your artistic lifestyle.

Here are 12 editing solutions that help you care for yourself and your writing. [Read more…]

Freelance Confessions: Confronting the Unsolicited Copy Editor

Freelance Copy Editor. Photo Credit – Flickr: doobybrainI cringe—CRINGE!—at the thought of something that I used to do.

It’s something that you may have done at some point, too.

When you first start working as a freelance copy editor, you want to make it known whenever possible that you excel at spotting writing mistakes.

On a very basic level, the ability to find and correct errors is the skill set that you need to monetize; you have to show others that you have the eagle eye that they need to fix their copy. [Read more…]

Learn 15 Common Grammar Mistakes in Less Than 5 Minutes

Common Grammar Mistakes. Photo Credit – Flickr: Mary Lee HahnThe Internet is oodles and oodles full of special sauce.

Today’s flavor? Grammar.

If you don’t internalize a grammar lesson, it’s not going to prevent you from making the same error again in the future. The tip must be easy to comprehend and practical.

I love concise guides that actually make a difference the next time that you sit down to write. [Read more…]

Online Writing Help 101: Business Email Etiquette

Online Writing Help. Photo Credit – Flickr: Ann DouglasIn my last post, I discussed an ineffective way to engage a service provider when you’re looking online for writing help.

To complement my report on what you shouldn’t do, it’s appropriate to outline a refresher on business email etiquette—what you should do.

When you visit my website, the Proofreading Service Menu lists the following pricing structure: [Read more…]

If You Don’t Like What I Charge, Get Lost

Photo Credit – Flickr: allaboutgeorgeA wise woman once said:

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. And they’re, like, it’s better than yours. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.”

Yes, I’m talking about the 2003 pop hit, “Milkshake,” by Kelis—the song that was once my ringtone on my old NOKIA flip phone.

Still with me?

I often discuss my proofreading services as a business. Though this may seem obvious, there’s something about the Internet that gives people the impression that what you offer is less valuable than, say, if I offered in-person writing and proofreading services.

I recently got an email that exemplifies what online business owners tend to experience. [Read more…]

Why Revision Fairy?

Proofreading Services. Photo Credit – Flickr: campraI offer online proofreading services, but I’m not actually a proofreader.

I’m not actually a copy editor, either.

My creative work with words varies.

Sometimes, I proofread.

Sometimes, I copy edit.

Sometimes, I do both.

Sometimes, I rewrite rough drafts.

Sometimes, I write original content.

The thing is: writers don’t always know what they need.

That’s why I created Revision Fairy. [Read more…]

Need to Hire a Small Business Writer? Start Here.

Small Business Writer. Photo Credit – Flickr: Artois BibliothèquesIf you need to hire a small business writer, there are a number of prerequisites that you should figure out before you approach candidates.

It’s not all about the writer’s qualifications.

Communication is key when forming a new business relationship.

Once you establish guidelines for your writer, it’s also easier to find the perfect person for the job.

Here’s a 20-point checklist to review as you search for a small business writer. [Read more…]

Introducing Free Proofreading Services: Get a Sample Today!

Free Proofreading Services. Photo Credit – Flickr: ElectraSteph

UPDATED APRIL 25, 2012 —

Free samples are no longer available. Please refer to my Proofreading Service Menu for standard prices.

I don’t offer free proofreading services.

Proofreading is not a hobby for me. It’s not a complimentary service that I help you with in my spare time.

Proofreading is what I do.

But a free proofreading sample?

That’s a different story.

It’s my business to help you with your business. [Read more…]

Should Your Blog Post Writing Style Stir Up Trouble?

Blog Post Writing. Photo Credit – Flickr: Martin CathraeLast week, I wrote a guest blog post for ProBlogger.

How to Write a Blog Post Like a Troublemaker with a Heart of Gold is the second article that I’ve written for the site.

Many thanks to Georgina and Darren for the opportunity!

If you haven’t read it yet, check out an excerpt below: [Read more…]

Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide for Better Writing

Online Proofreading Guide. Photo Credit – Flickr: tonx

The Second Edition of Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide for Better Writing is now available.

Click here to download the new 2013 version.

Writing, editing, and proofreading are interconnected activities in the web of transcribed communication.

You can overcome creative standstills if you look at editing and proofreading as a safety net.

Feel free to write absurd, nonsensical musings and tangents. Don’t worry—it can all be fixed later.

However, many writers feel overwhelmed when they have to resolve rough drafts.

It’s a pain to review text that already makes sense to you.

My new free ebook, Revision Fairy Tales: Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide for Better Writing, covers low-stress ways to revise and correct your work. Ensure concepts that you take for granted also make sense to your audience.

You improve your writing skills when you proofread strategically.

After reading the ebook, you won’t look at proofreading the same way again.

The 30-page PDF is Edition I of a new series. [Read more…]

Hate Proofreading? 5 Fun Ways to Revise Like a Professional Proofreader

Professional Proofreader. Photo Credit – Flickr: cellar_door_filmsWriting always begins with an idea, even if it’s significantly underdeveloped.

If you transcribe words that communicate your concept, and dedicate time to making that message clear and dynamic, you eventually produce your final draft.

Writing is a mystery that you solve along the way.

Proofreading is generally considered the opposite of that.

The belief that proofreading is a science isn’t terribly helpful for writers. Many writers become writers (not scientists) because they like to be artistic and creative rather than technical.

There are special skills that you need to be a professional proofreader, but every writer can approach proofreading as an engaging activity that completes the writing process. [Read more…]

What’s the Connection Between Document Proofreading and Online Marketing?

Document Proofreading. Photo Credit – Flickr: krossbowContrary to the seemingly mundane activity of document proofreading, online marketing is a glamorous buzzword for both online and offline businesses.

Once you transcend the notion of shady Internet scams and vicious trolls, the idea of marketing a legitimate business online sounds exciting.

There are no paper cuts, awkward telephone conversations, or heavy objects to lift on the Web.

Whether you’re a small business looking for Facebook fans and Twitter followers, or a blogger developing an online writing portfolio, the Internet is a desirable place to appeal to customers.

But can you really market your product or service to an audience online and actually get new clients and customers?

The answer is yes, but you have an extremely limited time to solidify your reputation.

While an offline business may get more than one chance to make an impression, a quick page view may be all that you get in the online world. [Read more…]

Professional Proofreading Help: 21 Writing Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again

21 Writing Mistakes You'll Never Make AgainOnce upon a time, I decided to write an ebook. It was almost a year since I began my adventures as a freelance proofreader, and I wanted to create a product that would help my clients.

I spent the summer writing Revision Fairy Tales: 21 Writing Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again, and I released it on September 15, 2009—two years ago today!

If you want to improve your writing skills and learn how to stop making the same writing mistakes over and over again, help me celebrate the book’s two-year anniversary by downloading a copy.

I call the content “anti-grammar” because I think standard language rules are boring, confusing, and difficult to remember. Revision Fairy Tales contains straightforward, practical tips that help you write correctly without memorizing any grammar rules. [Read more…]

9 Blog and Website Proofreading Tips to Retain Online Visitors with Simple Writing

Blog and Website Proofreading Tips. Photo Credit – Flickr: Joyce-RhiannonDo you proofread your blog and website content from the point of view of a reader?

Readers can quickly go elsewhere online for information, so you have to know exactly what your audience wants and cater to their interests.

Online visitors aren’t looking to read a book. They’re not even looking to read an entire Wikipedia entry.

They scan your writing for what they need. If your writing is too complicated or too vague, they leave your blog or website.

Simplify your online content while copy editing and proofreading to find the perfect balance that satisfies the reader.

Here are nine blog and website proofreading tips that help make online visitors realize that you have the information that they seek. [Read more…]

Power Proofreading: The #1 Writing Tip When You Don’t Have Time to Proofread

Power Proofreading. Photo Credit – Flickr: purplemattfishThe writing process is an artistic balance of raw text and meticulous proofreading, copy editing, and revising. Your initial thoughts need to be crafted into clear language that your target audience understands.

Since school starts back up this month, I decided to dedicate each Thursday in September to copy editing and proofreading tips for specific writing situations.

Here’s the first installment of my Proofreading 101 series.

People like instant gratification and the accelerated versions of activities: power napping, power workouts, power lunches, etc. It’s only natural that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need a power proofreading.

Sometimes you know that your writing is not up to par, but the clock is ticking and you need a complete draft fast. For example, you need to dramatically improve your copy within the hour, and you don’t have time to hire a freelance proofreader. [Read more…]