These days, hiring a proofreader might be a luxury you just cannot afford. But even beginning writers can proofread their own writing with time and a little effort. Proofreading is one of the basic things in writing different type of papers, does not matter whether it is an essay or a diploma. It shows your level of language proficiency, which is a very important factor in evaluating your work. Even successful and well-known writers or journalists repeatedly proofread their works to make them perfect.
These five strategies below will help you catch errors in your own writing and, in time, turn you into a better writer.
Proofreading Tip #1 – Take Time Away from Your Writing
The best proofreading strategy is time away from the writing. It is impossible to catch missing or misspelled words, awkward sentences, or clunky paragraphs right away. The more time away from a piece of writing, the more errors you are likely to catch. Allow twenty-four hours between the writing and the proofreading stage for important pieces of writing like reports, essays, and proposals.
Proofreading Tip #2 – Print Your Writing Out
Waiting a day is not always an option. When pressed for time, print out the piece of writing, grab a red pen, and start crossing out and circling. The printed page allows for more fluid reading, so errors are more easily spotted on paper.
Proofreading Tip #3 – Read Your Writing Aloud and Backwards
There is no better way to catch errors than to hear them. This strategy works especially well on sentence-level errors like run-ons, fragments, and missing words. Reading aloud from the printed page works best. Start with the last sentence first. By reading your writing from the end to the beginning, you will be starting and stopping at the end of every sentence. This strategy forces you to focus on your writing one sentence and one word at a time, making it easy to spot mistakes. This is the best way to proofread short but important business emails.
Proofreading Tip #4 – How to Use Grammarcheck and Spellcheck
Although useful, neither of these tools is perfect. Spellcheck is more reliable than grammarcheck. Grammarcheck often suggests wrong alternatives to sophisticated writing, so pay careful attention at its suggestions. Grammar check does, however, do a good job of catching run-ons and fragments.
A Final Proofreading Tip
If you follow these proofreading tips, you will begin to notice that you make the same kinds of mistakes in your writing. This works to your advantage because in time you will start looking for these patterns of errors, which will make them easier to spot and fix before turning in that final draft or sending off that email.
In addition, once you have identified your patterns of errors, grab a grammar book like Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Look up the rules governing your usage errors (like mixing up you’re, your or they’re, their, there) and you are on your way to becoming a better writer.