After you are completely satisfied with the content of your writing, read the document over very carefully. Follow these simple proofreading tips to find typos and errors.
- Never proofread when you are tired. Leaving the document overnight is best. Or wait at least a few hours. If you have little time, wait ten minutes and then maybe go into a different room to proofread. These tips might help you bring a fresher set of eyes to the proofreading experience.
- Know how many readings it takes you to find all of the errors. One reading is never enough. I suggest two or three readings. If you can get another person to proofread, that is ideal. Two sets of eyes catch more problems. If you find very few errors, then you have probably read too fast. Assume that there are typos, as virtually every document will have some. Your mindset is very important. If you assume that there are no errors, you probably won’t find any.
- If possible, read out loud instead of silently. Also, as you read, move your finger slowly across the page to track each word. Following these two tips will slow you down and make it more difficult for your eyes to trick you into reading something that is not there. (We’ve all had the experience of having left out a word from a sentence, but when we read it, our brain-eye coordination tricks us and we read the sentence as if it had the missing word.)
- Never proofread on the computer screen. Always print your document and read the hard copy.
- Have good lighting and a typing stand to bring your document closer to your eyes. Using Arial and size 14 font makes the document bigger and darker. This facilitates smoother reading.
- Keep brushing up on grammar and punctuation so that you will know the common pitfalls in writing. This will guide you in what errors to look for. If you are using a particular format style (ex., APA), you might make a “cheat sheet” of the most prominent rules and keep that close to you when you proofread.
- A proofreader wears a different cap than the writer. Don’t try to revise your content when you are in the proofreading stage. The goal of the final proofreading is just to catch mechanical errors.
- If your writing project is important and you can afford professional editing, hire an editor to review the document for you.
- When you are all done, put the document through Spell Check and Grammar Check. Spell Check will not catch typos that are actually words, but it will find some errors. Warning: Grammar Check is only correct about 60% or 70% of the time; in some cases it’s just completely wrong. However, it’s still worth using, especially if you are a native speaker. Putting the document through these final checks is the last step in the proofreading process.