5 tips on how to proofread your work perfectly
After a decade of proofreading and editing, I have learned certain tricks along the way that you can use to perfect your content. By training yourself on how to analyse a final draft, you will produce more accurate and polished writing.
Content is important, however, it can be undermined when it is sloppy and full of trivial mistakes. After working hard to put your ideas onto paper, it is worth the extra effort to rectify careless errors and allow the reader's full focus to be on the content. By smoothing out a final draft and paying attention to detail, it could be the difference of a grade and will inevitably make a better impression.
Often, people don't spend much time proofreading at all as they are relieved to have the hard part done: reaching the word count. Unfortunately, if you stop there, there's a high chance that mistakes will be missed. It’s highly beneficial to allocate sufficient time to review your work and use a systematic approach to spotting mistakes.
Here are my main tips for polishing your prose:
1. Read your work aloud
As you read your work aloud, your mistakes become more apparent as you hear the written word. After you have scanned over your document multiple times, your eyes can continue to skim over and ignore the same typos.
Instead of noticing the grammatical errors, you will read what you intended to say, rather than what you have written. I cannot stress this tip enough as it's a simple and effective way to notice mistakes immediately.
2. Print your work out
Yes, I am aware this is not the most environmentally-friendly option but for something very important, it is worthwhile to print out your work. The mistakes become easier to spot and other elements such as spacing and indentation are far more visible.
Then, review your work with a red pen and gain a more visual perception of the paragraph sizes and therefore, the overall structure.
3. Take a break before proofreading
One of the main reasons that errors are made is because you are exhausted from writing and you repeatedly overlook the same mistakes. Take a break after writing and tackle your work again as the editor rather than the writer.
It's always good to go away from your computer for a short while before reading back over your work and approaching it with fresh eyes.
4. Read your text backwards
This technique is useful, but it depends on the length of the text you are proofreading. It is an extremely tedious method for large word counts but is useful for shorter pieces of writing such as emails, CVs or applications.
If you read your sentences backwards, it will force you to slow down and read each word consciously. I find this is the best way to flag homophones (when two words have the same meaning or spelling, e.g. 'allowed' and 'aloud'). Try it and see!
5. Use Grammarly.com
Grammarly.com is a tool that I find excellent to fastidiously analyse my writing. By signing up to Grammarly.com, it can be inbuilt into your computer and will alert you if incorrect grammar is used. If you download the app, you can then add it to Microsoft Word and the feedback will appear on the right-hand side of your document.
Hope these tips help improve your writing and happy proofreading!