Many people are under the assumption that proofreading is an “innate” ability. The reality is that it is actually an acquired skill. By following these tips, you can transform yourself into the expert proofreader you’ve always dreamed of becoming!
- You are the best judge of yourself. By this I mean that you can determine exactly what your most common mistakes are. Whether it’s placing the “e” before the “I,” or simply forgetting the semi-colon; once you familiarize yourself with your most common mistakes, proofreading will become much easier.
- Remember, proofreading is not about misspelled words only; most likely those are caught by the application you are using like MS Word spell checker. You must look for incorrect sentence structure, repetition, and text which does not flow well together.
- Leave the document for a while, and return with new eyes. If you walk away from your work and take a quick break, then return, you will find your outlook has changed completely!
- Slow down and read out loud! So many errors are caught when you read the text slow and out loud to yourself. You realize things like: this sentence sounds strange, or I repeated this word 5 times in the same paragraph!
- Your subconscious plays tricks on you. Sometimes you read what you think SHOULD be there, not what is ACTUALLY there. So you must acquire the skill that overcomes the power of the subconscious. What is that skill? Simply reading what is actually on the page!!
- Never settle for one quick glance over your paper. Read it several times to be sure that you have not missed any possible error.
- Try to work with a friend or hire professional help. There is nothing like another set of eyes to look over your work for you. After working on a document for so long, it becomes too familiar. Having an unbiased party view your paper is never a bad idea.
- Once a misspelled word, always a misspelled word. It has become faulty information embedded in your mind. Now it’s no problem when the word is misspelled in a way that MS Word will catch it, but the absolute worst thing is when the misspelled version happens to be a word too! In that case, the application absolutely will not catch that error! For example: your and you’re OR sea and see.
- The one second you aren’t on your guard, paying attention, you may end up misspelling or incorrectly structuring a sentence. Remember that your mind works faster than your fingers. Always remember that when you proofread somebody else’s work you are more likely to detect errors than proofreading your own work.
Professionals proofread their work over 10 times. Now, by following these guidelines, you can too!