Proofreading is a must, no matter what you’re writing. Whether it’s an email to a friend, resume, or research paper, you want to make sure content is clear and readable. That means errors should be at the bare minimum; in fact, if it’s realistic to strive for perfection, then that’s what you should aim for.
Turning in such high-level work could require multiple proofreading passes on your end, plus several passes by your editor. You might even need to enlist the help of editing software like Grammarly and ProWritingAid to turn in near-perfect work.
Still, these tools have their limitations and are certainly no substitutes for excellent proofreading. To get to that level, you must internalize the three tips for proofreading many writers and editors swear by. Read on to learn more about these three prime rules.
Prime Rules of Proofreading
There is never a replacement for a fine set of proofreading skills. While today’s best tools can make the editing process easier, they’re never quite able to address context as well as human editors. That means there’s no replacing human eyes and judgment, particularly when that specific human applies the following rules:
Hard vs. Soft Copy Technique
Sometimes, nothing beats proofreading a hard copy. These days, we’re so used to writing on soft copies, we don’t realize that these platforms can make it harder to spot mistakes.
When you print a hard copy of your work in another format, you might be able to spot a couple more mistakes overlooked during the first few passes of proofreading.
If printing a hard copy is too much trouble, you may want to try proofreading your work’s different soft-copy formats. It’s easier to spot certain errors when you’re given a different look at content. You can use the soft end of a tool or your fingertips to spotlight these errors on your screen.
If you’re worried this still can’t bring your work up to par, you may want to enlist the help of online editing apps. You can count on the best editing software to help you produce near-perfect content.
Read by Section
Sometimes, reading a piece in its entirety can blind you to its errors. There are just too many blocks of texts on display that you can’t entirely focus on the section you’re reading.
Reading by section, which is more commonly called the “hide-and-seek” technique, is an effective way to counter this distraction. It involves covering the parts of your work you’re not evaluating currently.
If you’re reading the first paragraph, you might want to conceal the rest of the content with your hand or a piece of opaque paper. You can even go the extra mile and do only three or four words per analysis.
As you go over these sections, try to make a mental note of all the possible errors. Keep an eye out for spelling, grammar, and syntax mistakes, as well as poor word choices and repetition. Once you’re done checking for these errors in a set of words, move on to the next.
As you proceed to the other sections, check if they match the structure of the ones before them. If there’s cohesion between the parts, then carry on.
It’s so easy to overlook mistakes if you proofread the entire content in one go. You want some of your proofreading passes to be done part by part to reduce the chances of missing certain errors.
There’s something that reading aloud does that reading with your eyes never could. That’s why regardless of which methods above you use, you want to utter those sentences out loud to get a feel of how they sound.
Do they sound a bit awkward? Perhaps you want to change a few words here and there to remedy that. Whether one reads his or her work aloud or asks someone else to read it for them, the method is bound to improve correction efficiency.
You can also spot spelling and grammar hiccups by reading content backward. This puts the focus on individual words instead of entire sentences, which can help spot errors overlooked during the first few proofreading passes.
The Importance of Proofreading
Mistakes are rarely tolerated in any field of work. They convey carelessness and incompetence, which hardly convinces audiences or potential customers to give your work a second go.
Content littered with spelling, grammatical, and punctuation mistakes do nothing to encourage a positive reaction. You will never be taken seriously if this is the kind of content you present. What’s worse is that it could even shine a bad light on the name of the company you represent.
These days, there are proofreading toolkits online that can help create fool-proof content. Combine the app you’re most suited to with your skill in following proofreading’s prime rules, and you’re almost certain to come up with impressive, readable content.