Proofreading your writing is the final step that should be completed, which checks for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Proofreading doesn’t mean just reading your paper, it means examining the words, sentences and paragraphs themselves to make sure they follow the proofreading rules.
– Before proofreading you need to remind yourself who the target audience is, consider the audiences point of view, understanding level and possible questions.
– Taking a break between writing your paper and proofreading it is helpful, walk away and come back later to proofread; you’ll be amazed at what pops out.
– Read your work out loud, this will help you catch errors that you may not pick up on when reading it in your head.
– Make sure there are no distractions, proofreading requires great concentration. So turn off your phone, radio or TV. Other people in the room may also be a distraction, so just take yourself away from all of this while you proofread.
– If you are unsure whether some grammar, spelling or punctuation is correct then look it up on the internet. There are plenty of websites which can help you with this.
– You might want to consider asking someone else to read the document as well as yourself. What might make perfect sense to you may not make sense to someone else.
– Don’t be afraid to cut bits out of what you have written, get rid of words and phrases that don’t add to the meaning. If you cannot justify a point, statement, sentence or word, eliminate it.
– Watch out for homonyms, these are words that are pronounced or spelt the same, but mean entirely different things. For example, mixing up the words “accept” and “except” can completely alter the meaning of a sentence.
– Read it backwards and read each word separately and carefully. According to research, it doesn’t matter what order the letters are in a word, the only important thing is that the first and last letter are in the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.
Unfortunately one round of proofreading is not enough; you need to repeat the process to ensure you haven’t missed anything!
If you want to learn more about how to Proofread, then take a look at our Proofreading Course.