You’ve worked hard on your magazine article, blog post, website content, or an email to a potential client. Your writing process isn’t complete until you’ve completed a thorough proofreading process. Grammar errors and inconsistencies can leave you looking unprofessional. Word processors have built in spelling, grammar and punctuation checks, but those are never 100% accurate.
Editing is reviewing for content and context. Don’t get caught up with word spellings or comma placements while editing your rough drafts. Keep the two processes separate. Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process and should only be done after all editing revisions have been made.
Creating a process system that works for you will insure that you catch as many errors in the least amount of time. You probably are already using some of the tips below.
1. Run spelling and grammar check one last time. It may sound like a no brainer, but many of us go back during editing and add, delete, or replace words and sentences. Be sure to run a check one last time.
2. Print it out on paper. A simple yet effective technique - it is much easier to read and review on paper than on a computer screen.
3. Proofread for only one type of error at a time. Don’t try to identify and revise each sentence. If you try to identify and revise too many or all errors at once, you may lose focus and overlook mistakes. Instead go through your content check for just one problem. For example, scan and check for commas. Then go back and proofread for apostrophes. Then repeat again check for contractions and so on.
4. Read Out Loud. When you read silently or quickly, it’s easy to overlook errors. Reading slowly out loud can help you note differences in what you meant to write and what actually ended up with on paper. When you read silently or quickly, it’s easy to overlook errors.
5. Watch Out for Homonyms. Pay attention to words that share the same spelling or pronunciation, but have different meanings. Using the wrong there vs. their or accept vs. except would be a major faux pas.
6. Ask someone else to read over your paper and help you find sentences that aren’t clear, places where you’re being wordy, and any errors.
7. Ask Someone Else to Proofread Your Work. A set of fresh eyes without knowledge of the content may easily spot errors that you overlooked several times.
Hone your proofreading process.
Start with these tips and create your own process system. It will make it easier for you to become efficient, spot errors and enable you to focus more on your content while you’re drafting work. You’ll learn which areas you need to closer attention to.