Six sure-fire ways to improve your written work

Six sure-fire ways to improve your written work

1. Read your work aloud. This may seem strange at first, but it works. It also helps shut out the distractions your brain loves, so you can focus on the job.

2. Make like a Chameleon. Change the look of your work to help your brain tune back in. Change the way your work appears on the screen (font, colour) or print out a hard copy. Or cover the text below with paper to stop your brain racing on.

3. Bottoms up. Read your work backwards, sentence by sentence. You’re tricking your brain so it doesn’t see what it wants or expects to see. It’s also a great way to slow down your proof-reading.

4. Does the language PASS? Is it Positive—it says what happened not what did not, Active-voice, Specific—contains powerful verbs, avoids wordiness, Simple—clear explanations, better verbs, free from jargon and clichés.

5. Forget the content. Proofread it purely for common mistakes. Do a complete run-through for just one type of issue each time: spelling, grammar, punctuation, links, facts, dates, calculations, numbers, quotes, sources. Then take a separate run-through to make sure each statement makes sense and there are no assumptions.

6. Hold your horses. Spend time away from the piece before proofing each time. Step away from your work after you’ve finished revising, before you start re-reading it. Even if it’s just 15-minute-walk, the break will refresh your brain and bring fresh eyes to your work.

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