Your professor or boss might have asked you to proofread your work before submitting it. Although you weren’t for it at the time, you probably asked yourself many questions:
- What is proofreading?
- What proofreading process should I use?
- Why should I bother?
Proofreading involves fact-checking and making in-depth adjustments. It’s also important to note that proofreading is not editing. Submitting your work without proofreading is a recipe for failure.
You will end up failing to persuade your readers or client. Since proofreading determines your success or failure, it is important to understand what it is and how to do it effectively. Let’s get started!
What is proofreading?
Proofreading can be defined as the process of reviewing your final draft to ensure that your piece of writing is accurate and consistent in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and format.
Among the things that cloud people’s understanding is what proofreading is because this word is used differently in every field.
For instance, in the publishing profession, proofreading is defined and done differently from someone who is in college. In the publishing industry, the writer will proofread his or her piece of writing before it is printed or published.
The writer or proofreader compares the printed manuscript versions which include all page numbers, headers, and footers that will be included in the final copy to ensure that no errors have been introduced by the printing or formatting processes.
Isn’t proofreading all about fixing spelling errors?
The word proofreading is defined separately from the role it plays in the publication world. What the majority of people refer to is the process of checking for spelling, grammatical, and formatting errors.
Proofreading should be the last step that the writer takes before publishing a document online or handing it over to the professor.
The kinds of errors that proofreading fixes
By the time a document is being proofread, it should be edited already. This means that content should be valuable, organized, and written well in a simplified manner.
Editing is the process of removing errors and ensuring that the document makes sense from the beginning to the end.
Proofreading is all about finding both small and large errors that were introduced or missed during the editing process.
Proofreaders should ensure that the final draft is free from spelling and grammatical errors such as improper punctuation, incorrect word choices and incorrect spelling as well as typographical and formatting errors. They also ensure that the document adheres to the laid out rules and regulations.
Different from traditional proofreaders, document proofreaders have no set limitations on the number of revisions they can make on a document. This is because there are no high proofreading costs associated with making changes.
If proofreaders discover that the entire document requires more changes or adjustments, they might send it back to the editor to do another check. Although proofreading is not as extensive as the editing process, it plays an important role especially in enhancing the quality of the piece of writing.
No reader will sacrifice his or her time to read something full of errors and typos. Publishing such a piece of writing will not only confuse readers but also make you look unprofessional.
So, how do you proofread your piece of writing effectively so that you can impress and persuade your readers to take some kind of action? Keep reading!
Proven tips to proofread effectively
Here are seven tips on how to ensure your proofreading process is effective and successful.
1. Concentrate on the piece of writing
If you want to spot all the major and minor mistakes in your piece of writing, you’ll have to concentrate.
To concentrate, you’ll have to get rid of distractions in your environment. This means switching off the television, putting your phone away, informing your loved ones about your plans early enough to avoid being interrupted and switching off notifications from social media platforms and email.
Distractions are big time wasters. Do not think for a moment that you can control your urges.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. By eliminating all kinds of distractions you’ll do yourself and your readers service.
2. Put it on paper
You are going to read and understand things differently on screen and paper. Therefore, you should print out a copy of your piece of writing.
When you read it aloud, you’ll easily catch errors that your eye missed on screen.
3. Proofread for one type of error
The truth is you cannot spot different kinds of errors at a go. Your mind works best when it is focused on a particular area or problem.
A good example is when you want to buy a specific car or house. Have you ever noticed how they start popping up everywhere?
They were always there but you didn’t see them because you weren’t looking for them. Therefore, if you are looking for a particular problem, say wrong punctuation, you’ll easily see and correct them.
4. Take a break
After writing for several hours, do not start editing and proofreading immediately.
Your eyes and minds are either tired or attuned to what you were writing about. It will be very difficult for you to spot and correct errors unless they are very huge.
The best thing you can do is take a break and proofread it later.
5. Proofread when you’re most alert
When are you most alert? In the morning, mid-morning or evening? As we said earlier, you have to be focused on your work to spot errors.
Therefore, you have to proofread when you’re most alert. The majority of people do it very early in the morning before the city or neighborhood wakes up. Figure out when you’re most alert and dedicate that time to proofread your piece.
6. Go through your paper several times
You’ll not spot errors by going through your piece one or two times. You have to read it more than three times to understand it inside out.
If you can’t read your piece more than once, how do you expect your readers to read it severally? Reading several times will help you focus and publish a great piece in the end.
7. Have someone check it for you
After checking everything in your piece of writing, it is important to get a friend to proofread it for you.
When he or she returns it to you, you’ll be amazed at the number of mistakes you missed. A second person will be in a better position to evaluate whether everything in your piece of writing makes sense.
Remember, proofreading is not just about finding errors and fixing them. It involves polishing your sentences from the beginning to the end to ensure that your message is smooth, clear, and interesting. Never submit or publish your piece of writing without proofreading.
This guest blog article was written by Michael Gorman, a highly-skilled freelance writer and proofreader from the United Kingdom. Please contact him via Facebook or follow him on Twitter @MichaelGorman88.