Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blogs - to Edit or Not to Edit?

Should you edit your blog after publication? Sounds like a simple question - right? And yet there is much written on this topic and strong feelings abound.

On the 'no' side (more accurately stated as the "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" side) people feel that editing should only take place before you publish your blog article, that to make changes afterwards is cheating.

There are at least two trains of thought on the 'yes' side.

1. We are professionals and professionals work to perfect their products. If you spot a problem after publication, fix it - ASAP.

2. The blogging media offers editing options that weren't available in earlier eras. In the world of print media, we can't easily correct an editing error. That is not true with blogs. Mistakes are easily fixed. We should embrace the technology and fix the errors.

There is even a third point of view - an attempt at compromise. The idea here is to fix the error, but in a 'red-line' mode, meaning show both the error and the correction. This is a way of saying - I made a mistake, but recognize it and know how to fix it. I find these kinds of corrections distracting and don't recommend them.

My feelings on the matter are simple. I edit. If I review a post that I wrote six months ago and spot an error, I stop and fix that error. If someone sends me email asking "Hey Dufus, don't you know the difference between 'from' and 'form'?" I reply with a thank you for the heads up then hussel over to the blog to repair the damage. I take the same approach on my website - I edit.


  • Because I hate to see mistakes associated with my name

  • Because publishers check out blogs and websites of authors they are considering

  • Because I cringe at the site of typos and editing errors

  • Because editors and agents check out blogs and websites of authors they are considering

  • Because I hate to see mistakes associated with my name

Is it better to perfect your article before publication? Definitely. But if you do make a mistake, why wouldn't you fix it as soon as you spotted it?

Charlotte Phillips is the co-author of the Eva Baum Detective Series, 2009 President for The Final Twist Writers Group and contributor to multiple blogs. Learn more about Charlotte and her books at:

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  1. I never thought for a moment that someone would consider NOT correcting errors in their blogs. I don't understand why, especially for writers. No matter how much I go over my posts, I almost always find errors once they're up on the blog.


    I'd be interested in hearing the reasons for not fixing the mistakes.

  2. I tend to leave my personal blog as is, but if i noticed errors in Un:Bound i'd want to correct them and do. Although I am an amateur reviewer I still consider the Un:Bound site to be my professional one and give it that level of attention.

  3. "hussel over to the blog to repair the damage."

    hustle over

    "Because I cringe at the site of typos and editing errors"

    cringe at the sight


    Thanks for this post. I agree with you, and I correct any errors I find, unless I made them intentionally in a vain attempt to be funny.

  4. I go back and fix errors I see. Sometimes, I click publish, read it over, find mistakes 2 or 3 times, and go back and fix them. The only problem I see is that sometimes Google might get mixed up when the little spiders look around, especially if I've thought of a better title for the blog and changed it.

    Morgan Mandel

  5. I try to find all errors before I publish. Then once I publish, I read it again. Sometimes what I see in the writing stage is not what I see in the published stage. Which is one of the reasons I always read a clients book at least 3 times -- I see different things each time.

    I'm of the opinion to edit when it is needed or seen, even if it's after the post goes live.

  6. I say fix it as soon as you see it. I would do that in books if I could.

  7. I WANT to say edit as soon as you see it.

    But what I want - and what happens? Two entirely different worlds. I am not gifted to be a good proofreader - and I post in two places. What I find is that I fix the errors I notice at the first blog ... then copy to the second location. Unfortunately one supports CSS - and the other very old school HTML - with no wysiwyg. It is painful to edit/correct ...

    and I'm lazy.

    I guess if I ever send out a query letter, I'll have to spend a month going through my posts first. *sigh*

  8. I always wandered what the correct internet/blogging protocol was for editing previously published material. It seems like no matter how much I reread a blog post before I click on the publish button there always seems to be something that can be improved or a blatant error that I missed and I cannot resist going back and correcting the post. Once I spot the error it would be to embarrassing to leave it for others to find!

  9. I did mean it would be too embarrassing.....

  10. I type posts in a Word doc and study and edit them. Then copy to blog and study and edit more. Like Morgan I wonder about Google and how the spiders react to edits after publishing, so I just make after-pub edits asap on recent stuff and don't look backwards on the old.

  11. Not correcting errors is last century thinking. I agree with you.

    Maggie Bishop

  12. Maggie Bishop is absolutely correct, and I'm going to quote you. Well said! I correct a published post from last year if I happen to stumble on an error in it.


  13. A very timely post (I was asking myself this question just this morning) and also well-executed; the carefully placed typos and duplication drew out the main reason in my mind to correct the errors - they distract the reader. I find that I miss the entire paragraph read after an error because my mind shifts focus.

    But here's a naive question - is there an RSS notification if a post is updated? That's the only reason I can think to minimize the editing of non-content errors after the post is initially published.

  14. I fix small mistakes, like spelling, formatting and incorrect links.

    If it's a large amendment, I add a note at the bottom. More like a newspaper retraction I suppose. It makes the replies look odd if you change too much.

  15. I am so happy I read this post. I'm always spotting errors in my posts and every time I catch one after it's published, I feel like I'm slowly dying. What do I do? I correct it and pray that no one noticed it in the first place.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.