When proofreading your own content, you might find yourself running into some pretty common proofreading mistakes. To help you avoid those mistakes, here are the top six proofreading mistakes that you should do everything in your power to avoid making. Do this, and you will notice that your strategy for proofreading improves markedly!
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1. Listening to spellchecker
A spellcheck is a useful tool, but it should never be your primary source of proofreading. Running a spellchecker catches obvious errors, but this alone is not enough to spot things like incorrect use of words, words that are similarly spelt but differently used, and content that sounds wooden and hard to talk through. Always spellcheck first, but be ready to manually edit afterwards, too.
Hire a human editor rather than relying on a spellchecker!
2. Relying on instinct
You might have noticed that our brains can essentially parse a word together properly so long as the first and last letters are correct. This is very useful for helping us join dots in mistaken content, but it can certainly have a negative impact when it comes to proofreading.
So, with that in mind, stop relying on instinct and instead start relying on something a little bit more effective: forensic analysis focused very particularly on common errors.
3. Not changing repetition
A common proofreading mistake is to not make changes to repetitive content when you spot it. Many of us choose to use words as our safety description wording; but we might find that it actually makes our content sound robotic. When proofreading, try to spot words that you use more often than you should. Don’t leave them in there because it is correct; change it out for a synonym and you are much more likely to be happier with the results that you are capable of producing.
Content becomes far more enjoyable without continuous repetition of the same old words.
4. Ignoring homophones
You might notice that many words have a similar sound but actually have a different meaning. For example, you might accidentally type ‘by’ as opposed to ‘buy’ – and while it ‘sounds’ the same, it does not ‘mean’ the same. Keep that in mind, and you can make sure that your writing is going to be improve tenfold.
The more time that you can spend spotting and then removing homophones, the more likely it is that your content is going to become easier to read for the intended audience – and make more sense in general.
5. Ignoring inconsistent writing
When writing, you might use numerous things like figures and dates throughout the writing. Make sure you focus on getting each of these things consistent; dates should always be written in the same format, the same numbers. The same goes for things like writing layouts – do you use hyphens or dashes? Do you work with a double or a single quote mark space? These little things might not sound like much, but it helps to be consistent.
Little things like this can make a big difference to the end writing that you produce, so focus on them accordingly.
6. Shocking syntax
The last part of writing that might escape you is a failure to manage syntax properly. Many sentences can ‘make do’ but sound quite clumsy and robotic; this is poor syntax. For example, you could say something like ‘car for sale used’ when in reality it would be better to write ‘used car for sale’.
Syntax works best when you try to find the most logical and least confusing order for the words to follow another. Proofreading is all about spotting these little inconsistencies and then working around them, which is something we highly recommend you do.
When writing, then, keep the above six key proofreading errors in mind and you can easily avoid them in the future!