Tuesday, August 3, 2010

10 Quick Tips for Proofreading Your Writing

Proofreading is neglected by many writers. If you value the opinion of your readers, then proofreading is a small price to pay for the success you enjoy because of them.

Knowing What to Look for

Before anything else, proofreading can only be made possible if you know what to look for. This means having a considerable grasp of all the intricacies of proper grammar and punctuation as well as solid knowledge on spelling. If you fail in any of these counts, you need to work on them because they can make a huge difference in the quality of your writing.

Appropriate Environment

Proofreading is a job that requires great concentration.  Find an environment suitable for the job. Get rid of all possible sources of distraction.

On Paper

It's easier to overlook errors when you are proofreading with your computer.  Print your writing on paper whenever possible. It might be more costly this way, but the income you generate from well-proofread writing can easily offset the expense?

The Right Mindset

The best way to proofread your writing is to have clear expectations of finding errors. If you think of your work as flawless, you’re more likely to overlook errors. A positive outlook even if it means finding errors in this case always helps in getting a positive outcome.


Resist the temptation to read in the pace that you’re used to. Instead, read slowly and read it out loud if possible. Reading will help you find errors in the style and cohesion of your writing.

When you’re done reading from the start, try reading it backwards. The brain tries to correct any spotted error in the content, making you read what you think you see instead of what you’re actually seeing. By reading backwards, you prevent your brain from correcting on auto-mode and view your work for what it really is.


Proofreading includes correcting the look of your writing. Pay attention to wrong spacing and margins, irregular font styling, and improperly capitalized words. Indeed, pay greater attention to words in uppercase as it's more difficult to see errors in that format.


Proofreading includes making sure that everything about your writing is consistent. Uniformity, after all, makes writing more attractive. If you use a certain name for reference, be sure to use that name at all times rather than confuse your readers with various synonyms sprinkled across your text.

Grammar and Spell Check

The options for these mechanisms provided by your processor are not always right. And no, this doesn't mean that you’re smarter, but they’re probably not configured correctly. In any case, don't rely on them to do your work for you.


Proofreading is not a one-time process. You need to do it over and over and at properly spaced intervals to make sure your writing is error-free.

Another Point of the View

Last, but not the least, have someone else preferably one with the necessary knowledge and experience proofread your work. Although I recommend using a professional, if you know other writers, you can strike a deal and proofread each other's work.

A fresh pair of eyes, not to mention unbiased as well, can help find the last few errors in your writing.


  1. The consistency tip is a great one - and something that I haven't seen suggested for editing before. I always enjoy reading books and articles that have a consistent flow to them, making them easier to understand and allowing me to become more involved with the characters or the facts. Thank you for taking the time to write these tips.

  2. I would add one more thing. Listen to the words.
    Use a reader program, it doesn't have to be a great voice, but hearing the pace and words will often bring me attention to something I would have glossed over when reading from paper.

    I use NaturalReader - free and kind of robotty voice, but I can run the program and keep the word document open to make changes as they come up.

  3. Some excellent advice. I have to agree that it is much easier to edit on paper than on the screen. Why this might be the cast I still haven't figured out but it is true.


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