11th February 2023
Why Proofreading Is Important
Any type of writing can benefit from proofreading. In this article, we’ll explain what proofreading can help you achieve with your work and why it’s so important.
What Is Proofreading?
Proofreading is a type of editing. It’s the process of reviewing a piece of writing for errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting. It takes place after the writing process is complete, and it’s the last type of editing you’ll do before publication.
While earlier stages of editing might make more significant changes to the structure and content of a document, proofreading focuses on catching surface-level errors that the writer has made or that previous edits have introduced.
What Is the History of Proofreading?
Proofreading gets its name from traditional printing presses, where “galley proofs” were mockups of a printed manuscript to test how the published document would look. These “proofs” were then checked for mistakes before being used in the expensive process of printing.
Historically, proofreading was done on paper using symbols called proofing marks. While proofing marks are still in use, these days, most modern proofreading is carried out on a computer using word processing software, such as Microsoft Word.
Why Is Proofreading Important?
Proofreading is crucial to ensuring that a piece of writing is clear, accurate, and easy to understand. These qualities are essential for any document that’s going to be published or shared in some way, from novels to dissertations.
Proofreading helps written work appear professional, reliable, and credible, which is especially important in the case of academic and business writing. It can also help maintain the “suspension of disbelief” in works of fiction.
In addition, proofreading saves time and money by catching mistakes before they’re published, submitted, or widely distributed.
What Impact Can Errors Have?
Even the smallest mistake can have a major impact on a piece of writing. In some cases, an error in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or formatting can cause confusion and lead to misinterpretation of what the author intended to say. A missing comma, for example, can completely change the meaning of a sentence:
“I’d really like to eat, grandpa.”
And the same is true of typos that confuse similar words:
We are now seeking new staff to join our team.
Errors in a text can also:
● Distract readers from the point being made
● Detract from the credibility of the work
● Make the work difficult to read and understand
● Negatively impact an author’s reputation
This can lead to significant consequences, such as poor grades, rejection from publishers, or missed career opportunities.
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● Proofreading is an essential step in the writing process that helps to ensure written work is clear, accurate, and easy to understand.
● It’s particularly important for academic and professional writing, as errors can detract from the credibility of the work.
● Errors can have serious consequences for an author and damage their professional reputation.
● Proofreading can prevent confusion and save time by catching errors before they’re published.
Whether you choose to proofread your own work or use a professional, proofreading is essential to producing a good quality piece of writing.
1. What are the most common errors found during proofreading?
Some errors appear more often than others.
10 of the most common proofreading errors are:
- Incorrect apostrophe usage
- Missing commas
- Comma splices
- Sentence fragments
- Dangling and misplaced modifiers
- Confusing homophones, such as their/there/they’re, its/it’s, and to/too/two
- Faulty subject–verb agreement
- Misused sayings and idioms
- Inconsistent formatting
- General spelling errors
When proofreading your work, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these types of mistakes.
2. How can I proofread a large document efficiently?
It’s difficult to stay focused when looking through a long document, especially if you’ve already read it multiple times.
To help stay on track when proofreading large documents, try:
- Following a proofreading checklist
- Choosing one type of error to focus on at a time (e.g. first checking the entire document for spelling errors, then grammatical errors, and so on)
- Splitting the document into smaller, more manageable chunks
- Taking frequent breaks to rest your eyes (and your brain!)
3. How do I find a professional proofreader?
If you want a second pair of eyes on your writing, a professional proofreader can help.
Here at Proofed, we have a team of over 750 expert proofreaders ready to clean up your writing.
Whether you’re writing an academic paper, job application, or novel manuscript, our proofreaders can help make sure your work is at its best. Try us out today with a free trial.
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