Tuesday, August 23

Five steps to better proofreading

Have you ever read your book or short story after it was published and cringed at the number of errors that made it through the proofreading process?

Matthew Stibbe from Bad Language tells us five secrets of better proofreading:
1. Create a checklist. Organize your proofreading efforts by writing down all the areas you will need to cover. A checklist can cover things such as grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation. Simply check off each item on the list once you have completed it.
2. Do a preliminary read. Rather than diving right into the document, briefly read over it once before starting your actual proofreading. Make a note of what stands out and come back to it when you start. It will help guide your efforts so you know where to focus your energies when you proofread.
3. Work smart. Tackle each problem one at a time. If you try to fix everything at once, you will miss errors. Focusing on a specific area such as spelling or punctuation can actually speed up the process and enhance your proofreading skills because you will be able to pinpoint specific mistakes faster.
4. Allow for breaks. When you are working with longer documents, it helps to divide the time spent on proofreading into small time blocks. Attempting to carry out the proofreading process nonstop can deplete your energy and make it much harder to get the job done. Allow yourself time to take a break every 15 to 30 minutes. Working in short bursts can help you stay focused long enough to get through your document.
5. Perform a final check. Quick proofreading the first time through does not mark the end of the editing process. It is important to read it through a final time after you have finished the bulk of the proofreading. This is simply an insurance policy to ensure you catch any stray errors you might have missed the first time.

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