While it is the content of your writing that will draw readers to your work, it is the quality of your writing that will keep them coming back. In order to gain success as a writer, you must ensure that every piece that you publish is accurate in terms of grammar, spelling, formatting and style. These five tips will help you to become a more effective proofreader and thereby avoid missing errors that can harm your reputation and muddle your ideas.
- Read it aloud. Reading written text aloud exposes missing words, punctuation and awkward syntax. It also gives the proofreader an opportunity to discover gaps in logic and structure. Your ear will catch mistakes that your eyes missed. If you are proofreading a particularly lengthy piece, consider reading the final sections first, as this is where most mistakes will occur.
- Do not do it all at once. Proofread multiple times for specific issues. Go through once for punctuation, once for spelling, etc. This improves focus and the likelihood that errors will be caught. Make a list of common error trends and proofread for each one singularly. It is also important not to force the process all at once. If you are proofreading your own work, it is a good idea to put time between when you completed the work and when you begin to proofread it. If you are proofreading someone else’s work, it is still beneficial to put it down for some time and recharge your brain.
- Read it backwards. Reading from the last sentence to the first enables the brain to focus on individual words instead of the flow of a piece. Often when reading from beginning to end, proofreaders fill in missing bits without realizing it. Print the document and read it with a screen to help you focus on the individual sentence you are proofreading.
- Watch out. Check homonyms, apostrophes and contractions carefully. Mistakes of these types can harm the overall impact of the text, so you may wish to proofread for each category separately. Be sure to proofread footnotes, endnotes and any other text that varies from the standard print, especially italicized words.
- Check the numbers. It is important to go through and check that all of the numbers contained in the work are in fact the figures you meant to use. Also check that page numbers are correct and that the numbering of any lists contained in the work is correct. For example, if an author states that they will address five issues in a chapter, be sure that there are five issues contained in the chapter.
Randall Davidson is a co-founder of ProofreadingServices.Us, an innovative San Francisco-based proofreading service. Randall’s commitment to helping both individuals and businesses present themselves in a professional, accurate and articulate manner led him to create his successful proofreading company. Founded with the knowledge that even the brightest individuals often miss glaring mistakes when proofreading their own work, ProofreadingServices.Us provides affordable academic, business and book proofreading services that help writers ensure that their work is flawless.