Tips From the Experts: How to Improve Your Editing Skills
  • 4-minute read
  • 4th April 2023

Tips From the Experts: How to Improve Your Editing Skills

Are you a junior editor looking to improve your skills? Or perhaps you’re interested in a career as a proofreader and want to learn more about what it entails. We asked our highest-performing editors what advice they have for aspiring editors like you and here’s what they came up with. These experts have edited over 1 million words for Proofed, so they know a thing or two!

Don’t let feedback discourage you

Don’t get discouraged by neutral or negative feedback. Take note of the reviewer’s feedback and learn from it! – Sarah C

Take each piece of feedback, do some research on it to expand your knowledge of the error you made and make sure to take that knowledge into your next document. All feedback is an amazing opportunity to learn! – Hannah VdW

Don’t get discouraged! The various dialects and style guides might feel overwhelming at first, but with practice, navigating them and spotting frequent grammatical, punctuation, etc. errors become a lot easier. Second nature, really. – Dóra G

Don’t be discouraged by negative feedback. Learn from it and look forward to your next document. – Leslie H.

Learn from your mistakes. Always read your feedback. – Rowena R–C.

Don’t be discouraged! People take varying amounts of time to improve their editing skills, and even experienced editors go through phases when they just don’t perform as well as before. Be patient, it will pass! – Mel L

Receive, accept and absorb all feedback. With patience and persistence, you’ll improve! – Diane D.


"Start slow. You'll become a faster reader as you get into your own rhythm and learn what best works for you." – Lynne J.

Slow and steady

Don’t worry about your proofreading or editing speed. You’ll naturally get faster as you gain experience. – Dan T.

Don’t worry about editing speed at first (as long as you’re meeting deadlines). And use a checklist when you proofread! – Emily N.

Take your time, read as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. – Erin B.

If you find that you are slow, like I did, don’t get discouraged by the amount of time it takes to complete your work. It took me much longer than I wanted to get up to speed and feeling confident with the time spent per project. – Adra A

Start slow. You’ll become a faster reader as you get into your own rhythm and learn what best works for you. – Lynne J.

Always make sure at the start that the stated deadline represents a feasible turnaround for you. Never rush. – Anonymous

Check and check again

The key is in the details. It’s important to parse each sentence, identifying the subject, verbs, prepositions, adverbs, and adjectives to see whether they’re helping the writer convey their message or whether changes to any of them can improve the text. – Anonymous

Use whatever resources you need to. If you have a team, pick their brains. Remember to check your style guide. Bookmark commonly used pages for ease of reference. Search for answers online when you aren’t sure about something. Nobody knows everything, so it’s okay to check. – Carol W.

Always refer to the style guide multiple times and use it as a final checklist before you submit a document. – Louise M. 

Always take a break between read throughs – coming back for a second or third look with fresh eyes makes all the difference – Lucy L.

Stay open-minded!

Be open to the experience, don’t get frustrated, and be kind to yourself. – Debbie N.

Stay curious. Stay open to learning. Find ways to learn from others. – Robert H.

Never stop learning (or re-learning, as there’s a lot to remember). Chances are good you’ll keep discovering things you’ve been doing wrong for years, but it’s never too late to learn how do them right. – Jordan B.

Stay curious – language is an ever-evolving art! – Jenny E.


Have a go at uncommon document formats, such as PDFs. This will give you more opportunities!

Don't be afraid to challenge yourself

Don’t be afraid to take on documents that scare you, whether because the word count is slightly higher than you’re accustomed to or because it’s the first time you’ve tackled OSCOLA referencing. Pushing out of your comfort zone is a great way to grow as an editor and expand your knowledge base, and you’ll probably surprise yourself with how well you handle these unfamiliar types of document. – Anonymous

Have a go at uncommon document formats, such as PDFs, and master them rather than just sticking to word documents. This will give you more opportunities! – Cathy P.

Remember that you're helping people express themselves

While proofreading can seem impersonal at times because all you see are words on a computer screen, the service you are providing is actually incredibly personal because you are helping someone express themself more clearly. – Darcy C.

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