10 Tips for Proofreading
One of the most tedious tasks we will have to face, throughout schooling to our working life, is proofreading. Business owners will know that for every step you want to take there often requires pages of words to be written and read through first. Whether you’re writing a design brief for your website and branding or drafting an email marketing campaign, spelling and grammar are key!
How often do you proofread a document multiple times and still have someone pick out a typo? More than once right? We know the frustration! So we’ve put together a quick guide to proofreading like a pro with our 10 top tips.
1. Speak the same language as your program
Before you begin writing any document, make sure you and your program are speaking the same language! We all know how annoying it is when Microsoft Word constantly flags words like ‘flavour’ and ‘colour’ because it is set to American spelling. We can often just ignore it but this means we are less likely to take notice when the spell-checker is flagging a genuine spelling mistake.
2. Call in the cavalry
If you tend to draft work outside of programs that have this built-in you can download spelling and grammar checking software like Grammarly. This works in most places online. However, you can’t always trust these third-party softwares to pick up on everything. Unfortunately, manual proofreading is still a necessity!
3. Take a break
When you’ve spent hours working on a document (which, let’s face it, is most of the time) it’s always a good idea to take a break from it before you proofread. This gives our memories a chance to forget the words, meaning, and flow to help us look at the document with fresh eyes.
4. Choose your moment
When you do come back to it, make sure it’s the prime time for the most effective proofread. The majority of us are not at our most alert after a full day of work. There are, however, times of the day when we are at our most alert. This might be first thing in the morning as you sit down at your workstation with your morning coffee. This is the time to proofread!
Before you start, eliminate all distractions. This could be external, like the radio or the morning news, which will subconsciously be taking some of our attention away from spotting those really well-hidden mistakes. These distractions can also be on the document itself. Our eyes find it hard to focus on too much information at once. Highlighting each line on digital documents or using a ruler to separate them on hard copies can help to focus on one line at a time.
6. Know yourself
When someone does send you back your brief and highlights a typo, make a mental note of the specific typo. Did you spell it wrong? Did you write ‘the’ twice? By remembering the mistake specifically you will start to notice if that same mistake pops up a lot. That way you can first scan for that particular error and correct it before someone else does!
Then read your document line-by-line back to front. This way you’re more likely to pick up on other errors. This is because our brains often ‘fill in the blanks’ when we are following the meaning of a paragraph rather than looking at it word-for-word. Making it easier to overlook small mistakes.
8. Talk it out
Following this, you should read back through it, from top to bottom, loud and proud! Reading aloud helps us to understand better how others will read through the voice in their heads. This way we can notice sentences that just don’t make sense or could be worded in a more readable way.
9. Phone a friend
Then send it to a friend. Get someone else who isn’t your client, designer, potential customer, or boss to read it first, and hopefully, they will pick up on anything you haven’t.
10. Once more won’t hurt
It can never hurt to check over it one more time. Even just skimming through a document that has been proofread five times can be the final confirmation you need before sending it off.
We hope these tips will help with your future proofreading. Although it may not become less tedious of a task, it can be the check that keeps your reputation intact. After all, we prefer working smarter, not harder too!