Let’s face it: Proofreading is a mundane and boring task. You’ve just spent time pouring all your efforts into a piece of important writing and now you have to go back through it and nit-pick at it for grammar and punctuation flaws.
It’s tedious and tiring, but essential nonetheless. If you find yourselves whining at the thought of proofing a piece, follow the proofreading hacks below to get unstuck:
1. Focus hard and fast
This is blindingly obvious but it must be emphasized. Turn off the TV, sign out of your Facebook account or kill any other possible distractions. You’re going to proofread and you’re going to do it fast, hard and efficiently! This takes full concentration. Nothing will make the task quicker and more pain-free than your complete focus.
2. Print it out!
George Wilson, the Editing Manager at Cambridge Proof Reading, recommends this as a great way to increase the speed at which you can scan through the text for errors. George says, “People read text on a physical piece of paper more accurately than they do on a screen. It is easy to follow the lines so you can go at a quicker pace without sacrificing quality and accuracy.”
When you proofread your own writing people tend to read it as they intended for it to be written. An added bonus of having the text physically in your hand after writing it on the screen breaks this habit by making the text appear little bit less familiar because it is in a different format.
Of course, the downside to printing and editing is that you will have to then go through the text on the screen to implement the amendments, yet the time saved overall makes it well worth it.
3. Think consistency
Make sure you’re consistent in your language. For example, write numbers the same way every time, e.g. two, three not two, 3.
Failure to be consistent is a real flag for readers that makes your writing look disjointed, unprofessional and it hurts flow and structure.
4. Know your weaknesses
The Society of Proofreaders & Editors (SfEP) recommends: Be extra vigilant for the things you know you can often have problems with. For example, if you have difficulties with definite/indefinite articles ─ a common problem for ESL writers ─ pay extra close attention to these.
The more often you proofread your writing the more you will see patterns of weaknesses. This can help you scan quicker for these problems and skip over things you know you get frequently correct.
5. Keep a sharp eye on homonyms and contractions
Homonyms are words that are either spelt identically or pronounced identically but have different meanings. For example, allowed/aloud, weak/week, toe/tow etc. These are very common causes for error in texts so keep a sharp eye on these prickly characters.
Contractions: its/it’s, their/they’re, your/you’re etc. You know the culprits. Eyes peeled for these!
6. Have a professional proofreading service on speed email
If you’ve got the budget, find a quality proofreading service that can give you fast turnarounds on texts. Many online proofreading services will do same-day delivery for shorter documents and monthly payment terms for regular clients. Simply email them the text and they will take the hassle away for you!
It’s dull. It’s tedious. Sometimes it’s outright frustrating. However, we all know how essential it is to have accurate, professional writing at work. Use these tips to your advantage and make the task as quick and pain free as possible.
Which proofreading hacks do you bring into your proofing practice? Share with us below!
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