A Guide to Proofreading
Posted by The ginger Team | October 25th 2011
Proofreading is an essential part of the writing process, no matter what type of document you are writing. Mistakes can include anything from misunderstanding English grammar, to spelling errors, usage of wrong words, and simply typos – but either way such mistakes reflect on the writer, and can be easily avoided by proofreading.
Once you are writing a text, you become very familiar with it. So familiar that your eye might easily skip over m1stak3s that you would otherwise recognize immediately. The most important tip for successful proofreading is to make yourself, or someone else, be able to read the text from a fresh point of view.
Here are some proofreading tips that will help you do so:
- Get some distance from the text.
If you have the time, let it go for a couple of days and then return to it fresh. If you’re on a tight schedule, try to walk around for a few minutes, have coffee, look at something else. Then begin the proofreading process with new energy and a clear mind.
- Print your texts.
you’d be surprised at how reading that same text you’ve been working on on paper, instead of on the screen, will show you obvious mistakes you have missed.
- Read aloud.
Reading your text aloud will help you detect sentences that sound clunky, have erroneous English grammar or spelling, or are out of place.
- Slow down.
Reading your texts slowly can help the mistakes pop right out, and is a key step of proofreading. Read your sentences word by word and try to see if every word is spelled correctly.
- Try reading your text backwards.
If you’re having a hard time with the slowness, try reading your text backwards, sentence after sentence. This will make you see the text not as a whole, but as a new piece built from small elements. Make sure each element is correct.
- Use an automatic English grammar/spelling checker.
It’s important to use one that is context based so that it will detect mistakes on a sentence level, and not only word by word.
- Let a friend go over it.
Sometimes, even after all these steps, there might still be some mistakes you will not be able to detect. Find a friend that has good English grammar and spelling skills, and have them go over your text. A friend might also be able to provide thoughts about the overall content and structure.
- Improve your language skills.
In the long run, it is best to practice such topics as English grammar and spelling. Work on your vocabulary. Take a look at your texts and see if you have recurring errors. Focus on those topics to learn and improve your English grammar, which will result in fewer mistakes to begin with.