It’s rare to find a flawless and error-free write-up nowadays. Even top editorial staffs make mistakes and overlook typos. If you want to go in-depth with editing and learn how to improve proofreading skills, these techniques may help.
How to Improve Proofreading Skills Effectively
1. Check one problem at a time.
To improve your proofreading skills, you need to read through your text several times, focusing first on sentence structures, then spelling, then word choice, and finally, punctuation. As the adage states, “if you look for trouble, you’re bound to find it.”
2. Verify the proper names, facts, and figures.
Besides checking correct spelling and word usage, make sure all the pieces of information used in your copy are accurate, too.
3. Read your text aloud.
Many experts suggest reading the texts aloud when proofreading. In doing so, you may hear a problem (e.g., a missing word or a faulty verb ending) that you may have overlooked earlier. You may read the content by yourself or ask a colleague or friend to read it for you.
4. Record when you recite your copy.
This tip on how to improve proofreading skills reinforces tip number 3. Our brain is more responsive to hearing than reading; thus, listening to your content will make you understand and assess it better.
5. Review a hard copy.
Print out your text and review it line by line. Rereading your work in a different layout or medium may help you catch slips that you may have missed the first time around.
6. Change the elements of your piece.
If you don’t have a handy printer or don’t want to read your copy aloud, you can proofread it on-screen. However, you need to change the “in-house environment” of your copy first. Do this by:
- Changing the font style, size, and spacing of your copy; and
- Breaking down your piece into three to four lines.
7. Use a spellchecker.
Though spellcheckers may tend to apply improper auto-corrections at times, they are a big help when catching reversed letters, repeated words, and many other common errors.
8. Read your copy backwards.
Another way to improve your proofreading skills is to read the content backwards, from right to left, starting from the last word of your composition. This way, you’ll focus on the words rather than the sentences.
9. Trust your dictionary.
Your spellchecker can tell if a word is a word, not if it is the right word, unlike what dictionary does. If you’re not sure whether a cake is a desert or a dessert for example, consult the dictionary.
10. Make your own proofreading checklist.
Create a list of the most common errors and refer to your list every time you proofread.
More Tips on How to Improve Proofreading Skills:
- Check the language you are using. Depending on your need, you may set your dictionary to the most suitable proofing language such as American (U.S.) or British (U.K.) English.
- Watch out for apostrophes and contractions. Even expert editors with excellent proofreading skills often mix up you’re and your, they’re and their, it’s and its, and too and two. Thus, watch out for these when proofing your content.
- Eliminate possible distractions. Good proofreading requires focus. Thus, turn off potential distractions such as your cell phone, the television, or the radio.
- Never proofread until you have completed the editing process, otherwise, your efforts will become pointless.
- Ask for a professional help. Many companies offer professional editing and proofreading services online. Take time to review their credentials so you can find and hire the best one.
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