Simple tips on how to better proofread your own work by Brian Carey

Have you ever imagined whether or not you are good at proofreading your own work? Research has shown that people are not so good at proofreading their own work. In fact, some of the best writers we know never proof their own work. Their best works are proofed by other people. For a few people however, they prefer doing these themselves. This article gives you basic tips that will enable you brush up on your proofreading tips to be able to do this task all by yourself.

Using grammar and spell checkers

Every word processor comes with its own spelling and grammar checker tools or extensions that allow you to check mistakes easily. You don’t have to be a genius to figure how this works. As such, you shouldn’t ignore the small green underlining on typed work. You should also look out for the different spelling suggestions and recommendations. Alternatively, you can use spell checkers and grammar checkers. Although these don’t give 100% results, they should be enough to give away enough mistakes.

Read out loud

Reading out loud is one of the most valuable proofing techniques.  It’s the best technique you can use against awkward and omitted words. Hence, it’s the easiest way to detect the mistakes you missed when you were writing. The other advantage of reading out loud lies in the ability to detect sentence and phrasing mistakes that may arise.

Look up for ambiguous words

There are words you probably use to write that are ambiguous. They either distort meaning or mean something different. The best way to deal with such words is to look them up in the dictionary. Homophones are the most commonly mistaken words. Make sure you look them up to ensure they have been used correctly in context.

Refine the grammar

Not everyone is strong grammatically or with spelling. To be a good writer, this is something you have to deal with. Find a way to brush up on these skills. This means, if you have to go back to school or pick up the grammar handbook, then just do it. Having a handbook for instance, enables you to correct yourself when mistakes arise. This is a critical step when you want to become better and proofing your work.

Revisit your work later

In one sitting, it’s quite difficult for one to catch all the mistakes they make in their writing. Could be it’s the initial celebration that comes with completing work. According to experts, the best approach is stopping when you are done writing, then coming back to it later. The essence of this is to feel fresh. Doing this promotes your ability to detect the omissions you didn’t get the first time. It also makes the revision much easier.

Print it out

It’s quite difficult to proofread soft copy. This is because work that is printed is formatted in a way that is hard to detect errors. However, when the work is printed out on paper, real mistakes are easier to tell. You can avoid or correct them this way.

Let another read it

Other people can see mistakes we missed. Naturally, it’s because that’s not their work. In the end, you will be able to detect the mistakes you missed as a person and hence, deliver top notch work.

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Author bio: Brian works as a paper proofreader at editing service Papersconsulting.com

9 Comments

  1. cjmoseley says:

    One piece of advice I’d add is that many computers can read your text aloud (Word has especially good support for this) I find this can be invaluable for checking you are not imagining missing words or missing doubles. It works very well for me, but does make proofing quite a slow process.

  2. jerrydunne says:

    If you proof your own work, like anything else, you can become better at it. So over time, you will know the main proofing mistakes you have been making and improve on them. One thing you can do is let someone proof your work the first time so you can see where all your mistakes have been. Then the next time, if you want to self-proof, you have a guide to work from regarding your most common mistakes. Even if I had someone proof my work every time, I would recheck it myself. Proofers are only human and even the big publishers publish books now with basic spelling or typo errors.
    One little trick you can use, if you are publishing on Createspace, is to get your proof and have four or five good readers go through it and look for mistakes. You can go through it in this form, too. The change of format will show up mistakes easier.

  3. Brill tips and good comments above too. Cheers Steph- much appreciated as always!

  4. This is really encouraging to read. I especially like the note about ambiguous words. There are so many times I think I’m saying one thing, mostly because I thought a certain word meant a certain thing, and then… ah. Totally wrong. Thank you for posting this! Very good ideas!

    @cjmoseley, I hadn’t thought about having the computer read my work back to me, and I had no idea Word offered that functionality. That’s also a really good idea, even if it would take time. It would also be especially good for those tricky sections where you’re just not sure you got something right. Thanks for the thought.

    @jerrydunne, I didn’t know that about CreateSpace and the proofs. I’m pretty new to this whole thing. That’s a good idea to go back through the CreateSpace versions of your work. Thanks for the idea.

  5. Great post!

    One of the things I did after sending off my work to other readers for proofing was to leave it alone awhile, and come back to it with fresh eyes. I’ve caught things that I would have missed early on.

  6. musiclover25 says:

    Reblogged this on The Notepad and commented:
    Advice For People Who Have Trouble With Spelling

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