Maybe no one’s proofreading is 100 percent bulletproof. Every writer needs an editor, largely because our eyes seem to take liberties with our own writing. Sometimes we just seem to see what we think we have written, missing typos and other goofs. Still, we can refine our own proofing skills and catch plenty of errors before they go to print or go live online.
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Try these six tips for perking up your own proofreading skills.
1. Read your writing out loud.
Reading silently, we may zip too quickly over entire lines, missing errors. If we read aloud, we are forced to slow down and pay better attention. We may catch run-on sentences, fragments, misplaced words, and other mistakes this way.
2. Zoom in for proofing.
When we write a piece on our computers, we can increase our chances of locating any mistakes by increasing the size of what we have written. Using the ZOOM IN feature (usually found under the VIEW pull-down menu), we can change our whole editing perspective.
3. Go multi-media for proofreading.
Read and re-read your own work on the screen and on paper. Most of us compose on our computers. We can do a significant amount of editing right on the screen. However, printing items out allows us the opportunity to view a written piece in a different medium. We may look at it a bit differently, and we often will spot typographical errors or other issues.
4. Don’t trust spell-checkers.
Not only are they far from infallible, but computer spell-checkers will not catch homonyms. Remember elementary school? Homonyms are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. (Examples: nun and none, lone and loan, yore and your and you’re, and so on.)
This is a heightened concern for those who dictate copy audibly for auto-transcription. Like your smart phone texting feature, computer transcription programs frequently misunderstand spoken words.
Also, if you type the wrong word, but it is still a real word, your spell-checker will miss it.
5. Everyone needs another pair of eyes.
I’ve been an editor and proofreader for decades. I’ve made my living at it. Still, I rely on others to proofread my writing. You see, the human brain takes shortcuts. When we write, we tend to see what we meant to write, instead of what actually appears on the screen or page. Plus, if we have worked with the material enough, we will subconsciously skim. Thus, we may miss our misspellings and typos.
The most skilled proofreaders practice their craft frequently, which keeps their alertness to errors sharp. It’s an ability that can certainly be learned, but must be exercised often.
Adapted by this user
from public domain image