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Proofreading tips

Proofreading a printed copyOk, proofreading is boring – not many people actually enjoy the thought of reading their work over and over again to find errors. It’s a bit better proofreading someone else’s work, but most people still don’t want to do it.

However, like many things in business and in life, it is necessary.

Necessary that is if you want a professional finish to your written materials.

So here are my tips to make it as easy and painless as possible:

  • hire a proofreader! Ok, I added this point for fun as a plug (yes i can proof read and edit for you!) although it is a valid option
  • get someone else to read it for you – fresh eyes are more likely to spot errors and other issues
  • use a spell check to find the obvious typos (e.g. teh and yuo) BUT do not rely on it alone as it will not pick up the wrong word (e.g. know and now are both real words) and may not use your local or preferred spelling (e.g. color vs colour)
  • leave as much time as possible between writing/editing and proofreading (or subsequent rounds of proofreading) – a few days is ideal but overnight is a minimum. If time really is short, do something else in between so your mind has ‘forgotten’ some of the details
  • read it out loud – your tongue often trips over things your eyes would accept
  • read it backwards – that way you will read the actual words instead of the sentences so spelling errors are more obvious
  • print it rather than read it on a screen – not only is this easier on your eyes, it gives a different visual perspective and you can even read it away from your desk. I find curled up on a couch is great for editing printed documents…
  • change magnification of the text – seeing it bigger sometimes makes words stand out more

Some tips will suit you more than others, some will be more appropriate for particular documents, too. However, using a range of techniques (especially for more important documents) will help you achieve a higher quality document.

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