A Step Towards A Perfect Copy
You have now written an excellent copy. It has been through editing, and you think it is now ready to get published. But unless you proofread your copy, your work isn’t complete.
Proofreading is the final hurdle that you face before your work can make it to its desired destination.
While proofreading, you only look for visible errors in spelling, grammar punctuation, etc. You will not be concerned about the structure of the sentences or the style of writing. That should have been covered during the editing process.
Why Should You Proofread The Text Even After Editing?
Good content is truly essential. But if your copy contains numerous spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or incorrect punctuation, people will judge it.
While editing the text, your editor will not go over minuscule grammatical errors or punctuations. His primary focus will be to correct sentence structure and style. He will make sure that the focus is not shifting abruptly. He will also look at inconsistencies. However, minuscule errors might still be there.
If your document has stellar structure and style but silly surface errors, readers are going to be distracted and will focus more on your mistakes than the content you give them. Hence, it is a good practice to proofread your work before it reaches the audience.
People often tend to try to do proofreading and editing simultaneously. However, this can be disastrous. Multitasking both these crucial steps will result in you messing up at least one thing. Either you will be too focused on the spelling, grammar, and punctuation and miss the critical style inconsistencies, or you will focus entirely on the structure and miss simple errors.
The Proofreading Process
If you want to master the art of proofreading, there are a couple of key points and steps that you should acquaint yourself with.
There are some different tactics and tips that you can adopt to ease your proofreading journey.
But before we dive into those tips, let’s look at some essential things that you must address before proofreading.
- Make sure that your text has been through systematic editing. You should have already revised your paper for the style, organization, and structure of your work.
- If that is not the case, and you start focusing on these errors during proofreading, you will miss critical errors.
- Distance yourself from the text for a while before you start to proofread. Your brain needs rest too. If you begin to correct a tired mind and eyes, you will miss the small details like punctuation errors.
- We recommend you to read your text a day later, if you don’t have time constraints, to take some rest truly.
If you have addressed both these points, you can move onto proofreading. Read on to find out our tips that will make proofreading a more straightforward process for you.
Use Spell And Grammar Checkers
Tools like Grammarly
will make your life easier and will proofread your work. However, it would help if you were attentive while taking any of their suggestions.
Often, Grammarly will suggest a similar word to replace an overused word. While it might be tempting to use a wide range of vocabulary, some replacement words might not fit the context or the tone of your text. Grammarly might also glitch, sometimes giving wrong errors and suggestions. So it would help if you had a present mind while proofreading.
In addition to this, suggestions given by Grammarly may not provide a thorough explanation to help better you understand why a sentence should be looked at again. Yes, Grammarly is a handy tool to identify errors, but you need to know about those errors beforehand to correct them.
Moreover, spell checkers will not catch the usage of a valid word. For example, your spell checker on Word might not identify that you used their
instead of there.
It might be useful to keep dictionaries and grammar checking material close by to identify and understand errors pointed out by online software.
Check For One Kind Of Error At A Time
Like we mentioned before, simultaneously doing multiple tasks might result in you losing focus of small errors. Loss of attention is also true while proofreading.
We would suggest you only check for one kind of error. For example, do not try to look for both spelling mistakes and punctuation at the same time. Reading for one error at a time is especially helpful if the text at hand is too long.
Avoid Rushing Through The Process
It might be tempting to get done with proofreading as soon as possible to publish your hard-work and gain an appreciation for it. However, that appreciation won’t come if your text is shoddily put together and has small but obvious and distracting mistakes.
Quickly reading will lead you to miss errors and subconsciously read the text correctly, even though it has mistakes.
Try to read your text slowly and in an audible and clear voice. You will be able to identify and avoid awkward grammatical errors like misplaced modifiers or run-on sentences.
It is also a good idea to get a friend or family member to read the text out to you. You can focus on listening to how the text sounds. Only hearing the wordings will increase focus even more and help in identifying grammatical errors.
Read One Line At A Time
Excellent proofreading is all about maintaining focus. You should divide your texts into line to read even more constrained sections of the document. You can restrict yourself to one line by covering up the text below the line that you are reading with a sheet.
You might be asking yourself, “It’s not like I read more than a line at one time.”
That is not true. Subconsciously, you might skip to the text ahead and miss out on possible mistakes.
If you are proofreading a text digitally, separate the lines wherever there is a period.
Read The Text Backwards
Many don’t realize, but this is a very effective strategy when it comes to proofreading. By reading the text backward, you are reading online the line that you are on without taking into account the context. Hence, your focus will entirely be on the errors for which you are proofreading.
Reading backward is insanely helpful in identifying spelling errors; because you are reading the text with so much concentration, you will be able to spot a slight spelling mistake in your document. While reading backward, punctuation and grammar will probably not be making much sense, so spell check is the only thing that will take priority for you.
Check For Common Error First
It will probably save you time if you fix the common errors before you go onto more complicated ones. For example, you can first check for the spellings and usage of their, they’re, and there
You can also start by checking for errors that you know you must’ve made. For example, if you know that you miss commas or misuse them, you can first read your text for only that error.
It will help you to make a list of the most frequent errors that you make and then read your text for mistakes on a priority basis. This way, you can clump the most infrequent errors together and go over them quickly.
Seek Help If Need Be
If you write a lot or you are exhausted because of the writing process, or even generally, it is always a good idea to get a second set of eyes to go over your text. You can ask your friends, family, or coworkers to read your text. They can go over the text and point out the errors that were missed by you.
We hope you now understand what proofreading is and how you can read your essays for errors.
Remember, this is the last step before publication, so make sure your text has gone through all other heavy editings.
The essential advice for proofreading is building and maintaining focus, and the tips that we share will help you build that focus.
Using these tips to proofread your essays would ease the process for you. However, don’t expect to turn into an expert proofreader overnight. Like everything else, this process also takes time and practice to master.