The key to proofreading is to detach yourself from the piece – to look at it from a different perspective. The reason for this is that the brain likes to fill in the blanks for us and sets us up to miss mistakes that are right in front of us. When we proofread a piece that is familiar to us, the brain knows what’s coming next and it becomes easier for us to miss typos and other errors.
Follow these steps to help ensure a flawless piece:
- Get a Fresh Pair of Eyes – Ask someone else to look at the piece for you. A fresh pair of eyes tend to pick up more mistakes.
- Read it Out Loud – Read it out loud to yourself or to someone else – either way you will catch some mistakes you might miss by just looking at it on paper.
- Print It and Read It Backward – Proofreading on a computer screen doesn’t do it. Print out the work, grab a pen and put it to use! Read the words just as they are written, then start at the last word and read it backwards. This is a great way to trick your brain – it can’t anticipate the next word – and you are more likely to catch mistakes.
- Don’t Put All Your Trust in Spellcheck – Spellcheck is dependable for most spelling and grammar errors, but remember that it cannot recognize context, or words that may be specialized for your piece. Spellcheck is only a tool to help you – it has its limits.
- Put it Aside for Awhile – Take a break, especially right after writing. Maybe work on something else to help distance yourself and your brain from the work. When you pick it back up to proofread, you will be ready to look at it anew.
This post courtesy of Jane Moylan