Needless to say, this slavish devotion to typographical accuracy is why we’re so good at spotting mistakes that other people miss.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to be quite so enamored with editorial excellence to proofread your own writing. To help out, we’ve prepared six quick tips for proofreading that anyone can use.
6 Tips for Proofreading
Proofreading Tip #1 – Plan for Your Proofreading!
The biggest mistake people make when proofreading is not allowing enough time. Spotting errors in your work requires patience and care, so you need to make sure you set aside time to go back over everything before the deadline for your paper.
Proofreading Tip #2 – Vary Your Reading Style
Proofreading demands slow and careful reading. The best way to do this is often to print out your work and read it on paper rather than on a computer screen, which gives you “fresh eyes” and helps make errors stand out.
Alternatives include reading out loud, reading backwards (i.e., starting at the end of your paper) and even reading upside down!
Proofreading Tip #3 – Use Computers Wisely…
Although printing your work out can aid proofreading, your computer also has a few tricks up its plastic sleeves.
Spellcheckers, for example, can be invaluable. The “Find” function in Microsoft Word is a great time saver if you spot a repeated error, too, as it lets you quickly check for additional instances of the same kind.
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Proofreading Tip #4 – …But Look Out for Homonyms!
The downside of computer spellcheckers is that they’ll miss erroneous homophones: i.e., words that sound the same as other words, so aren’t spelling mistakes, but are still not the word you intended.
Computers can also struggle with acronyms and proper nouns, so be especially careful to double check these.
Proofreading Tip #5 – Check Your References
Referencing is often where errors creep into otherwise excellent academic papers, so make sure that you check your citations before submitting.
The best way to do this is to compare your citations against a style guide provided by your college. Using a citation generator can help too.
Proofreading Tip #6 – Stay Fresh!
The last of our quick tips for proofreading is to stay fresh! Since concentration is vital to effective proofreading, it’s important to take a break now and then.
It can even be worth taking a day away from your paper before you start proofreading. The first step to good proofreading, then, is sometimes to do something else entirely!