By Shelley Bowers
If you think it’s not important for your work to be accurate—we’re talking grammar, punctuation and spelling—you’d be wrong. Why? Because, you want your instructor to understand what you are saying, you want an essay that’s easy to read, and you may well lose marks for poorly written work! So, how to do achieve this? With perfect proofreading, that’s how.
So, here are the Ten Top Proofreading Tips to get you started:
1. Do it last. Don’t spend time proofreading a piece of work if you know you’ll have to re-draft it later—it’s a waste of time.
2. Leave it for a few days. Your brain is good at seeing what it wants to see. So, you need to put your work aside for a few days, then read it with fresh eyes. This way you’ll spot more errors.
3. This is not the time to think about content. When you’re proofreading, you should not be analyzing what you’ve written. Just concentrate on looking for errors.
4. Check and check again! If you’re unsure about grammar, punctuation, or spelling, you should check—it’s better than getting it wrong.
5. Proofread in peace. If you want to concentrate on the text, peace and quiet is essential.
6. Notes are good. When you spot something that needs correcting, make a note of it and continue proofreading. After a while, you’ll start to notice the mistakes you make on a regular basis, which will help you take steps to address them.
7. Read out loud. This is a great way to spot mistakes and check for flow too. Spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors often jump out at you and you’ll trip up over parts that don’t flow well.
8. Things to check separately. If you have lots of quotes, facts, references, dates, or anything else that’s unusual—check them separately.
9. Do several proofreads. You can check for different errors on different proofreads. So, start off by checking for punctuation errors, then check for spelling errors, and so on.
10. The final job is formatting. Make sure each page matches the format you have been asked for. It’s best to leave this to the end, because the positioning of the text could change if you make any alterations.
Now go and perfect your proofreading!