Friday, December 28, 2018

8 Simple Proofreading Tips

It's essential in any field of writing, whether you're a student writing a college essay, or writing a blog post or article, your own eyes are the best spell checker you'll ever need.  You can't always rely on your laptop or computer  to catch every mistake.  Here are 8 tips to help you get the most out of  proofreading.

1. Concentration is crucial

When you're looking for mistakes it's vital not be distracted.  This is why concentration is key, which means closing yourself off from any surrounding distractions, and potential ones such as social media, emails, TV, radio and any devices such as your mobilephone or tablet.

2. Write it down

You read paper differently to reading a screen, so try printing out a copy of your document and  reading it out loud to yourself, you'll find your ear will catch the mistakes your eyes have missed.

3. Look out for homonyms

Words that have different meaning's, but share the same spelling or pronunciation are called homonyms.  If you decide to change complement with compliment your article could turn into a catastrophe.  There's no harm in using a dictionary or thesaurus.

Check out my book The Writers Guide to Writing Well to learn more about homonyms.

4. Look out for apostrophes and contractions

It's easy to mix up they're, their and there.  These small mistakes can often harm the validity of your writing.  Keep in mind that apostrophes are never used to shape plurals.

5. Review your punctuation

There's nothing wrong with focusing on words but don't forget the punctuation.  Take notice of capitalised words, extra or missing commas, full stops used incorrectly etc.

6. Study it backwards

Our brain usually becomes blind to our own mistakes and automatically "corrects" words inside sentences.  Try breaking this pattern by reading the text backwards.

7. Investigate the numbers 

When using numbers in your document make sure the value of an acquisition is correct, e.g.:

$10,000 instead of $100,000

8. Let your friends or family proofread your document

There's no harm in asking someone you know to run their eyes over your work.  Fresh eyes can pick up mistakes you might that may have been missed.  An extra set of eyes can work out whether the sentence makes sense or not.