Many people are under the assumption that proofreading is an “innate” ability. The reality is that it is actually an acquired skill. By following these tips, you can transform yourself into the expert proofreader you’ve always dreamed of becoming!
You are the best judge of yourself. By this I mean that you can determine exactly
what your most common mistakes are. Whether it’s placing the “e” before the “I,” or
simply forgetting the semi-colon; once you familiarize yourself with your most common
mistakes, proofreading will become much easier.
Remember, proofreading is not about misspelled words only; most likely those
are caught by the application you are using like MS Word spell checker. You must look
for incorrect sentence structure, repetition, and text which does not flow well together.
Leave the document for a while, and return with new eyes. If you walk away
from your work and take a quick break, then return, you will find your outlook has
Slow down and read out loud! So many errors are caught when you read the text
slow and out loud to yourself. You realize things like: this sentence sounds strange, or I
repeated this word 5 times in the same paragraph!
Your subconscious plays tricks on you. Sometimes you read what you think
SHOULD be there, not what is ACTUALLY there. So you must acquire the skill that
overcomes the power of the subconscious. What is that skill? Simply reading what is
actually on the page!!
Never settle for one quick glance over your paper. Read it several times to be
sure that you have not missed any possible error.
Try to work with a friend or hire professional help. There is nothing like another
set of eyes to look over your work for you. After working on a document for so long, it
becomes too familiar. Having an unbiased party view your paper is never a bad idea.
Once a misspelled word, always a misspelled word. It has become faulty
information embedded in your mind. Now it’s no problem when the word is misspelled in
a way that MS Word will catch it, but the absolute worst thing is when the misspelled
version happens to be a word too! In that case, the application absolutely will not catch
that error! For example: your and you’re OR sea and see.
The one second you aren’t on your guard, paying attention, you may end up
misspelling or incorrectly structuring a sentence. Remember that your mind works faster
than your fingers. Always remember that when you proofread somebody else’s work you
are more likely to detect errors than proofreading your own work.
Professionals proofread their work over 10 times. Now, by following these
guidelines, you can too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ayat Shukairy serves as Director of operations for INVESP virtual assistants. Ms. Shukairy published several articles and writes regular blogs for INVESP.