Friday, November 09, 2018

Proofreading Essentials

A key part of proofreading is taking the time to process everything you've written down.  The process can seem almost impossible, constantly battling with your eyes and brain telling you everything is fine, and nothing is wrong with what you've just written. Here are some essential proofreading tips to help you master your proofreading technique:

Apply a Checklist

Organise a list of valuable things to look out for, for example areas like agreement nouns, verbs,  pronouns, antecedents, and number style.

Check for Factual Accuracy

Go over your facts, figures, and proper names rigorously.  If you're inserting at the last minute, make sure the information is highlighted so that you remember where to put it in your document.

Verbalise Your Document

Read out loud and discover all of those pesky errors you've missed.

Use a Ruler

Use a ruler to cover the text following the line you are proofreading, moving the ruler down as you go.  This helps your eyes to focus on one line of text at a time and stops you from reading too quickly.

Check Your Format is Correct

If you have specified format to follow, make sure your document complies with the instructions you've been given.  Making sure page numbering, alignment, fonts, sizes, and headlines are all within the parameters you've been given.

Repeat Your Proofread

Go over the revisions you've made, check through the document with a fine tooth comb and not just  a quick spot-check.  You may have missed something.


Before You Proofread Take a Break

Don't proofread your document straight away, leave it a little while, otherwise you'll miss so many typos.  Proofread the day after.

Don't Trust Your Spellchecker

Read every word over and make sure you've used the right ones.  Use a thesaurus or dictionary if you're happy.

Check for the Most Missed Mistakes

Same sounding words, and words that look the same such as effect, affect, compliment and complement, are so easy to miss.  Check out my book The Writers Guide to Writing Well, for more information about how to use the correct word. 

Make a Print Out

If you find it difficult to pick mistakes up from a screen, print out a hardcopy instead.  This gives you the opportunity to go over your work somewhere that is distraction free and quiet.

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