Let’s face it – we are our own worst proofreaders.
As writers, I think we can all agree that we should never, ever try to proofread our own novels or works of non-fiction. But what do we do about our Blogs, our tweets, and our posts to Facebook? There simply isn’t time to get someone else to proofread these for us, yet it’s important that we maintain our professionalism. In those situations we have no choice but to proofread our own material. So here are a few tips to help ensure you catch all your errors.
Tips for Effective Proofreading
1. Your first line of defense is to use the spelling and grammar checkers that come standard in most word processing packages. While they won’t catch their when you meant they’re, or its when you meant it’s – they’ll still catch 80% or more of your obvious goofs.
2. Read your work slowly, out loud. Does it sound correct when you speak it? Reading out loud helps keep your brain from automatically saying what you meant even though that isn’t what is on the page. This often happens if you’re reading to yourself.
3. Read your work backward. Reading backward is much harder to do and makes you concentrate on each word rather than the thought you had when writing the word.
4. If you still find your mind wandering back to what you meant to type rather than what you actually did type, take a pencil and tap on each word as you read it. Again, this will focus you on the word rather than the thought.
5. Have your computer read to you. If your technology is less than 2 years old it’s likely that you have a program that will allow your computer to read your written word. Having someone else read to you, particularly a computer generated voice, can point out errors that will make you cringe like fingernails on a chalkboard.
6. I sometimes find it difficult to proof my work on the screen. Especially if it’s a long piece. In that case, I always print it out first. There’s just something about having words on a physical piece of paper that makes it easier for me to find my mistakes.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If you’ve got a tip that works for you, please comment below and share it with my readers.