The Proofreading Process
Following a consistent proofreading process will help you to spot errors that might otherwise get missed.
The brain can often play tricks on us; we sometimes see what we want to see or what we expect to see as opposed to what is actually on the screen. The tips below help us to avoid being tricked!
- Use the spelling and grammar checker on your word processing software (e.g. MS Word). Be alert for homophones and accept that the auto-correct may not be perfect and this is only the first step in the process.
- Use a checklist of common errors. e.g. double words, misspelling, homophones, capitalization, commas, periods, semi-colons, quotations, etc.
- Read your writing aloud. Listen for things that do not sound correct, natural, or clear. You can also use online text-to-speech services (e.g. text2speech.org) to listen to what has been written.
- Read your writing backwards to spot spelling mistakes and to find overused words.
- Don't try and spot all mistakes at the same time. Take several passes through the page looking for specific types of error each time.
- Print the document and read it the old-fashioned way. We read differently depending on the media so doing this may avoid our brain auto-correcting based on what it is expecting to see.
- Get someone, other than the author, to do the proofreading. You could even try and barter for the service. e.g. "I'll proofread yours, if you proofread mine."