26 February 2014

5 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Work

Follow Donna Darthuizen

Whilst software packages are very good tools for writing, and have reasonable means of picking up on poor spelling and grammar, there is no substitute for the human eye. Common typing mistakes include the transposition of two letters, so 'from' becomes 'form' or 'art' becomes 'rat', as well as the missing off of end letters, so that your intended 'and' become 'an', or 'tor' becomes 'to'.

But the software has a spell-check!

Mistakes such as these may not be picked up by software, such as Microsoft Word, which will also not take account of the fact that capital letters may be required in the middle of a sentence, or that a word has been correctly spelled but incorrectly used. And using the in-built grammar checker may make nonsense of a sentence which does not follow strict rules of grammar, but which is still perfectly understandable by your readers.

This is why it is critical to proofread your work before putting it out there, into the public domain.

Here are 5 tips to help you produce a typo-free document.

1. Print your copy. It is far harder to read a document on screen than it is to read something printed out on a piece of paper, and it makes it much more likely that you will miss something.

2. Read your copy aloud. Doing this should mean that you pay attention to every word, and so make you aware of missing text, incorrectly spelled words or sentences that don't sound right.

3. Leave it alone for a while. Don't feel tempted to proofread a document as soon as you have finished writing it. It will be too fresh in the memory for you to be able to see mistakes clearly.

4. Read it through first. Before trying to proofread the document, read it through in its entirety to get an understanding of what it is saying.

5. Start at the bottom. An excellent way to ensure that you see your work from a different perspective is to work backwards. This means starting at the bottom of the page, proofing the last sentence, then moving on to the one above, and so on.

However, proofreading your own work, especially if it is a lengthy piece such as a novel, is not advisable. Often a writer is so familiar with his or her own work, that they cannot see the errors or inconsistencies, which a completely fresh pair of eyes will pick up on. This is why it is best to get someone else to proofread your work. Ask a family member or a friend to run through your work with a red pen or pencil, or better still, hire a proofreader to carry out a truly professional job.

Top image from Imgembed.

This is a cross-post from Ezine Articles.

Laura Dowers, Copywriter offers a comprehensive range of copywriting and secretarial services, including proofreading, copyediting and manuscript formatting. For more information, visit her website: http://ift.tt/1fqr4fJ .