As a Ghostwriter and Article Expert, I’m always looking for efficient, quick and creative tips for proofreading. Unfortunately, for proofreaders and ghostwriters alike, there just is not an exact or perfect science to the madness. It is an art in itself.
Through practice and repetition is how a proofreader can become a great proofreader. Many times in our writings it’s very easy to get confused on certain aspects. It’s typical to mean one thing but say or write another. It’s hard to keep it all perfect, but with a bit of guidance, you can certainly get there.
Furthermore, being able to write and edit with efficiency and correct structure is a virtue that all writers should continually work on and perfect. If you want to become a better and more proficient proofreader, read through these tips and practice, practice, practice!
Concentration is critical, especially when you’re reading through an article, paper, or email to perfect it down to the smallest of details. If you are doing the proofreading for someone else or for yourself, you need to work in an environment that allows you to concentrate; otherwise you’ll end up with an erroneous paper.
2. Take a break
Taking some time out to stop, rest your eyes and then come back to the work you are working on might be beneficial. Resting allows you to pick up on things you may have missed the first or second time. Let’s face it; sometimes you just need a break.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
To avoid becoming overwhelmed or missing out on key errors, it’s important to break up the paper you’re working on into sections and only focus on certain problems one at a time. You may find it beneficial to break up the paper in chunks and focus on problems with sentence structure, then move on to choice of words, spelling and end it with punctuation. You may also want to look out for the following, of course, one at a time:
– Homonyms: Homonyms are the words that share the same pronunciation or spelling. Words such as “except” and “accept” and “compliment” and “complement.”
– Apostrophes and Contractions: These include words such as “there”, “their” and “they’re,” or “two”, “to” and “too.” A key to apostrophes is remembering that they are never used to formulate plurals. Just possessives.
4. Facts, Names and Numbers = Check: Not only should you focus on spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors but you should also make sure you have your facts correct. Double checking numbers, statistics, and formal, full names are all very important. If you are wrong, made a mistake, or typed in an extra zero where you shouldn’t, this could hurt your credibility in the future.
5. Printed Copy: Having a copy of whatever you’re working on in a printed format, can seriously impact your ability to pick up on erroneous material. Being able to go over it line-by-line and being able to write on the paper, can help tremendously. Nice little changes like proofreading on a screen to paper can help you catch mistakes that you may have missed previously.
6. Proofread Verbally: Not only do print copies come in handy, but also reading your material out loud can be beneficial. Some problems that you don’t pick up on visually may be picked up on verbally.
7. Dictionary: If you’re not quite sure about specific wording or if it’s correct, a dictionary still comes in handy, even in this highly technical era. Equally as important, if you’re looking to expand your vocabulary, a Thesaurus is a great idea.
8. Start from the end: Another strategy that may help you pick up on errors that you’ve missed previously is starting from the end of your article, newsletter, or book and working backwards. It’s another way to proofread and focus more on words rather than full sentence structures.
9. Ask for a second opinion: Asking someone else to proofread the writing that you’re working on can be very helpful. Another person can give a fresh outlook and pick up on things that you may have missed. This person can be a proofreader, but they don’t have to be. Anyone who knows how to read will be able to find errors, if there are any.
10. Make a Proofreading list: Much like this list I’ve written for your benefit, you can use your own skills and habits and develop your own list that you can check off as you proofread. This is to make sure you don’t miss any specific areas. You can also take note of things that you regularly miss so that you catch it next time.
Now that you’ve got a handy proofreading list, start working to improve your habits. Hopefully, you’ll find at least one of these suggestions helpful in your proofing efforts. What is something you do when conducting your proofreading efforts? Do share, and we’ll add them to this list.