A good proofreader is worth their weight in gold. Someone who can look over a text with an objective eye picking out any issues before publication whether they are grammatical inaccuracies, spelling errors, or other mistakes can help a writer of any quality to take their writing to the next level.
Of course you could hire a more affordable online proofreading company or proofreading service to carry out the work, but what if you want to undertake the proofreading yourself? If you are seriously considering doing your own proofreading, or proofreading for someone else, then the following tips will give you the best possible start.
5 Tips for Better Proofreading
General Revision: Before you really begin to proofread, editing line by line, it is important that the text be read over thoroughly, so that any larger issues can be identified and resolved such as structural issues, organization, paragraph use etc. This can be carried out by the proofreader or the author, but it must be done before line by line proofing is carried out; if this process is undertaken after line editing then material which you have corrected for mistakes might be removed altogether, leaving the entire endeavor counterproductive.
Spell-check and search function: Every word-processor comes with a spell-check function. Use this after doing your general revision in order to quickly pick up as many typos as possible. Then correct them one by one. Bear in mind that this is not a prefect process and that the computer will not pick up on correctly spelled yet inappropriately used words (through and threw for example) or grammatical errors. It will, however, save you some time. Also, use the search function to search for common words such as its and its to catch any misuse of punctuation.
Do not Proofread at the Computer: There is a reason that professional proofreaders edit first with a pencil and paper – its simply a quicker and more effective way to outline your edits. A computer screen is essentially a wall of text and editing in this manner can be a little overwhelming. After general revision and spell-check, print out the text and remove yourself from the computer screen. Paper proofreading might seem old fashioned, but its stayed around for a reason – it works!
The Ruler Technique: You might have come across this technique when learning to read out loud, it simply involves taking a ruler or a piece of paper and covering up either the lines below the sentence you are reading, or the words in front of where you are in the text. This helps you to avoid skipping ahead or over mistakes.
Identify Common Mistakes: Whether it is your own text or anothers, after just a few paragraphs you will start to notice which mistakes the writer is most often making. Write a list of those mistakes and then be prepared for them throughout the text. This saves on time and primes you to seek out the most glaring errors.
These are just a few tips to help you get started. There is a wealth of information out there about proofreading, so if you are serious about it then it is well worth doing some research. In the end though, a decent proofreader only becomes a great one with practice! Failing that, hiring an online proofreading service could be a more affordable way to take your work to the next level.