7. Change Your Text Formatting
It's hard to notice errors when you’re staring at your draft from a bright computer screen. When you’re looking at the same document, in the same font, in the same location, in the same context, your mind starts to merge those familiar experiences, which prevents you from catching mistakes. To see the errors, you need a new perspective. Change things up. If your review is focused on substance, try changing the size, spacing, color, or style of the text so it feels different.
8. Review Headings Separately
Rather than reading your document exactly as it appears on the page, try approaching it another way. Review headings and subheadings separately from the body text. By reviewing headings alone, you draw attention to inconsistencies and errors you might otherwise miss. Plus, reviewing headings and body text separately ensures you check both types of text. (Some of the most embarrassing errors in legal documents are hiding in plain sight in headings and captions.)
9. Try Backwards Editing
Backwards editing may sound strange but it’s a useful technique for seeing your documents with fresh eyes. Here’s how it works: Review one paragraph at a time in reverse order, starting with the last paragraph.
When you edit from the end of your document, you’re taking each section out of context. Editing out of order makes it easier to notice missing transitions or missing information. It also makes you focus on individual words and phrases rather than getting caught up in the flow of your draft. You might catch more errors this way because you’re editing for clarity instead of substance.
10. Find & Replace Repetitive Words
Don’t be afraid to hit CTRL + F to systematically search through your document for common errors and inconsistencies. Using the search function will automatically highlight sections of your text so you can efficiently spot repetitive words and phrases. It will also show you if you’ve written words and phrases inconsistently. Once you see the highlighting, you can choose to replace words to add variety, or replace inconsistent words and phrases with consistent ones—with just a few clicks.
BONUS! Improve and Accelerate Your Results With Technology
Using the right tools makes any job easier. That’s where WordRake comes in. Every word not conveying meaning detracts from every word trying to convey meaning, so when you remove the unnecessary words, you capture your reader more effectively.
In one click, WordRake analyzes your document or email, suggesting edits for clarity and brevity, right in Microsoft Word or Outlook. WordRake uses the familiar in-line, track-changes style, and you choose which edits to keep. With WordRake’s help, writing can be more persuasive and more effective, quickly.
WordRake is the ideal editing solution for legal professionals, business people, and anybody that writes as part of their career. Get your free 7-day trial today.
About the Author
Ivy B. Grey is the Chief Strategy & Growth Officer for WordRake. Prior to joining the team, she practiced bankruptcy law for ten years. In 2020, Ivy was recognized as an Influential Woman in Legal Tech by ILTA. She has also been recognized as a Fastcase 50 Honoree and included in the Women of Legal Tech list by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. Follow Ivy on Twitter @IvyBGrey or connect with her on LinkedIn.