Your job might not involve writing things from scratch, but you could well be asked to improve some existing writing. This is where the skills of copy-editing and proofreading come in.

The Chambers Dictionary is available online for free.

Perhaps a 5,000-word report needs cutting down to 3,500 words. Or a set of web pages all written by different team members needs editing to ensure a consistent tone of voice and style. Copy-editing jobs like these always include proofreading too – you don't want to be caught out by a typo on the first paige page. 

Here are five free online resources to help you edit and proofread your writing:

 1. Online dictionaries are great for checking how to spell a word, comparing the British and American spellings (advisor v adviser), or seeing whether two words are typically hyphenated or not. LexicoCollins and Chambers are all free to use.

2. Search engines like Google and Bing are handy for words that aren't in the dictionary, like industry-specific terms or brand names. Is it "Marks and Spencer" or "Marks & Spencer"? 

3. Style guides help you keep things like the format of dates and numbers consistent. If the company you're writing for doesn't have its own style guide (in addition to a tone of voice guide), then The Guardian style guide is comprehensive and free.

4. Plain English isn't everything - writing should engage and excite too – but cutting through waffle and corporate-speak will help you make an impact. The Plain English Campaign's guides offer useful advice.

5. Proofreading skills can be honed with practice. To train your typo-hunting muscles, why not try the Society for Editors and Proofreaders' one-page test? The society also offers courses if you'd like to take things to the next level.

Of course, you can always call in the professionals. If you have some text that's in need of major copy-editing and you'd like our help, we'd love to hear from you.

We don't usually take on proofreading-only projects. But there are plenty of others who offer proofreading as a standalone service. You can find one through the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

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