Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Proofreading can be a challenging task, particularly if you have been very close to a document - sometimes we are so focused on the longer spellings and grammar, we miss the minor errors.
Here are some top tips for proofreading success!
1. Print It Out
Reading on screen can be tiresome for our eyes, so in order to read something thoroughly we recommend to always print it out AND read it out loud. You'd be surprised how an error might arise or how you might rethink a phrase when it is read aloud.
2. Grab the Dictionary/Log on to Dictionary.com
While 'Spell Check' is a super resource, it can often miss errors, or it may confuse words that have similar spellings - fractious/factious, compliment/complement, effected/affected and only the writer really knows which was the intended word. Keep this in mind when carrying out your manual spelling checks.
3. Possessive Apostrophes and More!
The misuse of 'there' and 'their' is a very common error, despite the writer clearly knowing the difference. Working quickly and, again, perhaps focusing on other items, can lead to this common mistake. There are a few other words which this can happen with, so keep a look out.
4. Perfectly Punctuated
People's punctuation styles vary - however, it's important to keep your style consistent. Remember, the simple comma can make a world of difference to the meaning of a sentence. Many of us learned about .... 'Eats Shoots and Leaves' - 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves'? Also, don't forget to capitalize your words correctly - days of the week are in capitals, but seasons are not, there are a few others that can catch us out. Also, don't forget the golden rule of numbering, using words up to 10 and numerals thereafter.
5. Check your Facts/Reference Sources
If you are giving specific facts, it is important to check they are correct and also, to reference your sources.
6. Read it Backwards
Yes, it takes a lot of effort, but our mind is so focused on doing it correctly we read the words more carefully! So, give it a try.
7. Another Set of Eyes
And, finally, the golden rule...get someone else to help you give it a final check - someone who has not seen it before, someone who has a keen eye for detail and strong grammatical knowledge.
Thanks for reading and we hope our tips will spark some inspiration on your next proofreading task.
My Secretary is a provider of typing, audio transcription and content creation services in Dublin, Ireland.