Proofreading Tips, Tactics & Techniques

Get Ready:

  1. 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.
  1. Use the grammar checker. Make sure you understand what it’s trying to tell you.
  1. 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.

Get Set:

  1. Run out a hard copy. Proofreading a screen is tricky at best—especially when you’re working with more than a paragraph or two.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.


  1. Read twice: first for content—does it make sense?
  1. 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.
  1. Now, once again from the top—only backwards. When the words make no sense, it’s easier to find mistakes.
  1. Pay attention to your hunches. If it doesn’t “look right,” it may not be. Check it.
  1. Read it out loud. A good way to test punctuation and tone, as well as the basics.
  1. 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 to learn more.

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