Whether you are writing a magazine article, a college essay or an email to a client, getting your text free of mistakes is essential. The spell checker helps, but it is far from foolproof. That is where proofreading comes in. Below you will find 8 tips and techniques to make your proofreading sessions more effective.
1. Concentration is Key
If you’re going to spot mistakes, then you need to concentrate. That means getting rid of distractions and potential interruptions. Switch off the cell phone, turn off the television or radio and stay away from the email.
2. Put It On Paper
People read differently on screen and on paper, so print out a copy of your writing. If you read aloud, your ear might catch errors that your eye may have missed.
3. Watch Out for Homonyms
Homonyms are words that share the same spelling or pronunciation, but have different meanings. Switching accept with except or complement withcompliment could be disastrous, so pay attention to them.
4. Watch Out for Contractions and Apostrophes
People often mix their and they’re, its and it’s, your and you’re and so on. If there is something that can hurt the credibility of your text, it is a similar mistake. Also, remember that the apostrophe is never used to form plurals.
5. Check the Punctuation
Focusing on the words is good, but do not neglect the punctuation. Pay attention to capitalized words, missing or extra commas, periods used incorrectly and so on.
6. Read it Backwards
When writing we usually become blind to our own mistakes since the brain automatically “corrects” wrong words inside sentences. In order to break this pattern you can read the text backwards, word by word.
7. Check the Numbers
Stating that the value of an acquisition was $10,000 instead of $100,000 is definitely not the same thing. What about the population of China, is it 1,2 million or 1,2 billion? Make sure your numbers are correct.
8. Get Someone Else to Proofread It
After checking all the previous points, do not forget to get a friend to proofread it for you. You will be amazed at the mistakes you’ve missed. A second person will also be in a better position to evaluate whether the sentences make sense or not.