10 Ways To Proofread Your Work
April 16, 2013
by Justine Parsons
Before I start, can I just emphasise that no one is perfect. Even in these wonderful days of spell check and grammar check – errors creep in. One of my own weaknesses is proofreading my work. When a document, email, social media update, article or web page is finished the last thing I want to do is proofread it – I need to move on to the next task. However proofreading is essential, your work is how you will be judged and if it’s full of errors, you will be judged sloppy and unprofessional.
The real key is to have someone else proof your work and that’s where working in a team has benefits. I will ask one of my contractors to proofread my work, and I proof theirs in return.
This won’t always be possible … imagine having to send out every single email, tweet or update for proofing! I think not. Here are some tips to proofread your work, try them to see which way works best for you.
10 ways to proofread your work
- Don’t forget the big picture. Before you look at your document under a microscope, take a step back. Look at the composition of your document – are the paragraphs in the correct order? Are your headers and footers correct? If using styles, make sure they are correctly applied.
- Always spell and grammar check your work and check that you have the correct dictionary selected for your audience. For example, as a New Zealand business most of the time my dictionary is set for English (Australia), however when preparing written work for my US based clients I will set the dictionary to English (US). You can also set your emails and documents to automatically spell check.
- For words and phrases that you often mistype, set them up in auto correct. For example, I often mistype ‘to the’ as ‘t othe’ and have this set up in my auto correct list.
- Proof read your work backwards. I know right! But by doing this you will see each individual word, rather than seeing the sentence and skipping words.
- Read your work out loud. This forces you to slow down and will often pick up punctuation errors such as commas and full stops.
- Print your work out and proofread the hard copy. Some people will pick up errors on a printed document that they may miss on a screen.
- Get someone else to check your work. As mentioned in the intro, this is the tried and true method that does work.
- Take a break. Often the pressure is to publish that post, send the email or upload the document. Move onto another task and come back to proofread your work. I make it a practise never to publish an article when I’ve finished typing it up. I will come back to it in an hour (or if possible, the next morning). I have yet to do this and not make a correction or improvement.
- Use checklists. Checklists encompass more than simply proofreading your work however they can be a great tool to make sure your work is all it can be. For example, when updating a contract a checklist will help you to check that all relevant information has been changed.
- Eliminate unnecessary words and sentences. Does your email or document read well with each sentence/word counting. Proof to achieve clear, concise and direct sentences.
On a lighter note, Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer
I have a spelling checker.
It came with my pea sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when I rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore a veiling checker’s Hour
spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flair,
Their are no fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a ware.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word’s fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays,
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting too pleas.
Your Turn: Do you proofread your work? What works best for you?