Before publication, proofreading is the final and most crucial stage of the editing process. Additionally, it focuses on re-examining correct use of language, mistakes in grammar, misspellings, punctuation errors, and formats. It is the final touch needed to ensure a business document is correct, consistent, and professional. You should only proofread after you have completed all of your other editing procedures.
Whether you are writing a magazine article, a college essay, or an email to a client, ensuring that your text is free of mistakes is essential. The spell checker helps, but it is far from foolproof. That is where proofreading comes in.
Below you will find some tips and techniques to make your proofreading sessions more effective.
If you are going to spot mistakes, then you need extreme concentration. That means getting rid of distractions and potential interruptions. Find a really quiet place to work, switch off the cell phone, turn off the television or radio, avoid company, and stay away from the email.
Put it on paper/Read out loud
Printing out a copy of your writing will be helpful because people read differently on screen and on paper. When you carefully read aloud from something dimmer than the screen your eyes must have been accustomed to, it is easier to spot mistakes because of the fresh look the paper creates in your mind.
Watch out for Homonyms
Homonyms are words that share the same spelling or pronunciation but have different meanings and origins. Switching ‘accept’ with ‘except’ or ‘dyeing’ with ‘dying’ or ‘Heroin’ with ‘Heroine’ could be disastrous by meaning something completely different and out of context, so it is important to pay close attention to them.
Watch Out for Contractions and Apostrophes
People often mix ‘they’re’ with ‘their’, ‘its’ with ‘it’s’, ‘your’ with ‘you’re’. Simple mistakes like this can really hurt the credibility of your texts. Additionally, remember that the apostrophes are never used to form plurals.
Punctuation marks are often neglected in the process of focusing on the words. This is good, but without the appropriate use of spacing, capitalized words, or conventional signs that aids understanding, your writing may be read incorrectly.
Read it backward
When writing we unknowingly become blind to our own mistakes since the brain automatically “corrects” wrong words inside sentences. The text should be read backward to break this pattern, word by word.
Take some days off
It is hard to edit or proofread a paper that you have just finished writing because it is still very familiar, and you tend to skip over a lot of errors. Put the paper aside for a few hours, or days, or even weeks. Go for a run. Take a trip to the beach. Clear your head of what you have written so you can take a fresh look at the paper and see what is really on the page.
Sharing to a different reader
An entirely different reader who is reading your writing for the first time reads with completely fresh eyes and a clearer mind to take in the new content.
Proofreading for only one error at a time
Proofreading requires delicate attention. If you try to identify and revise too many errors at once, you risk losing focus and your proofreading will be less effective. It is easier to catch grammatical errors if you are not checking punctuation and spellings at the same time.
In conclusion, maximum concentration, taking some days off, sharing to a different reader, reading backward, checking punctuation, watching out for homonyms, watching out for contractions and apostrophes are the major methods that ensure smooth proofreading.