- Start the easy way. Use your spell checker—remember, it will “OK” any word that is correctly spelled, whether or not it’s correctly used.
- Use the grammar checker. Make sure you understand what it’s trying to tell you.
- Leave some time between inputting the material and proofreading it. Overnight is good. When possible, try to schedule proofreading when you’re fresh, and there are the fewest distractions.
- Run out a hard copy. Proofreading a screen is tricky at best—especially when you’re working with more than a paragraph or two.
- Give your eyes a break: Use a blank piece of paper just below each line you’re proofreading to make it easier for your eyes to stay focused on the correct line.
- Following along the line word-by-word with your finger can also be a help in keeping your eye focused on one word at a time.
- Read twice: first for content—does it make sense?
- If it does, read it a second time, paying no attention to content, but focusing only on the basics: misspellings; factual errors (names, numbers); punctuation; grammatical correctness. If you’re still thinking about the content, you’ll likely miss this type of error.
- Now, once again from the top—only backwards. When the words make no sense, it’s easier to find mistakes.
- Pay attention to your hunches. If it doesn’t “look right,” it may not be. Check it.
- Read it out loud. A good way to test punctuation and tone, as well as the basics.
- When possible, have someone else look at it to give you an objective point of view.
Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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