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10 Tips For Becoming A Top-Notch Proofreader

Ask someone to proofread your writing

by Jennifer on August 31, 2011

This is a guest post by Randall Davidson of ProofreadingServices.Us

Errors in written work distract the reader from your message and damage your credibility. Small errors are easy to make and can be very difficult to detect without following some proofreading tips.

Here are 10 proofreading tips to help you produce a clean document:

1. Create A Tranquil Environment
Unlike writing, proofreading requires peaceful surroundings for full concentration. Turn off the TV and music, and eliminate as many distractions as possible.

2. Take A break Between Writing and Proofreading
Proofreading requires fresh eyes, and studying a computer screen for hours at a time is tiring. Perform an unrelated task, or take a walk. Your rested eyes will examine your work more efficiently.

3. Make A List of Frequent Errors, and Focus on Them
If, for example, you frequently use “their” when you mean “they’re,” use the search function on your computer to seek out these words. Make sure you have used them correctly.

4. Print Out Your Work
Print in a different font. The change will make it easier for you to locate errors.

5. Read Your Work Aloud
Reading aloud will force you to focus on each word, making it harder for your brain to fill in what it expects to see rather than what actually appears on the page.

6. Read Your Work Backward
Again, your brain will consider each word individually. Reading backward will also force you to study each punctuation mark.

7. Do Not Try to Tackle Everything At Once
Concentrate on spelling errors on one pass, and then turn your attention to punctuation. Check numbers for accuracy on a separate read-through.

8. Examine Your Work From Top to Bottom
Do not neglect titles and subheadings. Sometimes errors in these areas are the most difficult to spot because we assume they will be error-free, so we ignore them.

9. Ask Someone Else to Check Your Work
Wording that seems clear to you may confuse a reader who is unfamiliar with the document. Another pair of fresh eyes will also help pick out errors.

10. Put Your Computer to Work
Add correctly spelled words to the dictionary, including proper nouns you frequently use. Adding these words will reduce the number of red lines in the document, helping you to identify real errors. Run a regular spell-check when you are finished.

Get in the habit of using these proofreading tips to polish your writing, and award your voice the authority it deserves.

How do you make sure your writing is error-free?

About the Author: Randall Davidson is the lead project manager at ProofreadingServices.Us, a proofreading company that offers dissertation proofreading. Randall enjoys discussing proofreading tips and best practices with other individuals.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tori Bailey September 1, 2011 at 2:21 am

Thanks for this informative piece. It is so frustrating to think you have corrected your work, to later go back and find errors.

2 Judy Harper September 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Gained a few tips here. Thanks! I have a problem with “was.”

3 Lauren @ Pure Text September 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Another tip I’d like to add is to sign up for at least one grammar newsletter. That way you can find errors in your work that you didn’t even know were errors before.

However, if you need something that is very important proofread, it’s best to hire a professional. Someone with a trained eye who has never seen the work before really is your best asset.

4 Andrew Toynbee June 20, 2012 at 4:03 am

Reading backwards and changing the font is something that I’d never considered – I’ll put that idea to work immediately. Thanks for the tips!

5 Karen June 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Interesting proofreading tips! I always read my articles out loud, I can simply point out what’s wrong when I hear my voice.

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