You’ve crafted a letter, manuscript, or essay designed to impress someone important. You’ve read and re-read the document for mistakes only to discover that some errors were overlooked. If you’ve already sent the final draft after this discovery, you can only hope these mistakes go unnoticed by the recipient. Avoid potential embarrassment in the future by taking a few simple steps to improve your proofreading.
- Read the document backward word by word. The eyes tend to jump at the same spots when reading a document. Reading backward helps to break this habit as you are forced to read each word separately and catch spelling errors.
- Take another look at your work with fresh eyes. If you have some time after you’ve completed your final draft, walk away from it and do something else for a while. When you return refreshed, you’ll be able to look at your work with a fresh pair of eyes and a new point of view.
- Speak the words aloud. Reading aloud helps you to hear your writing differently. Circle any spot that sound awkward or contain errors so you can revise them later.
- Get rid of some of the commas. The average person tends to put commas in the wrong place or overuse them all together. Check each comma in your work and determine whether it’s needed.
- Let a friend look at your work. A fresh set of unbiased eyes can do wonders. Naturally, we tend to avoid seeing errors in our own writing, but others may be able to catch them more readily. Have your friend underline the potential errors so you can have an idea of what your recipient may notice. Be sure to make the necessary corrections.
- Use your computer’s spell checker. While computers aren’t foolproof, they can be helpful. Give attention to the possible mistakes highlighted by your computer. Use discretion when following the computer’s suggestions. It may identify accurately spelled words as mistakes if it does not recognize them.
- Pay attention to the typical errors. Refer to your earlier writings that were proofread by a professor or someone else like an editor. Be sure your new writing does not duplicate the errors found in previous works.
- select the letter of a category on which you should focus when proofreading