Let’s face it, proofreading is a skill that some people have a knack for and others dread. While everyone has their own approach, here are five tricks that may help you become a better proofreader.
Take a Nap
Well maybe not a nap, but take a break after you are done writing. By giving your mind some rest, you’ll be able to come back and proof your work with fresh eyes.
Print it Out
Looking at a computer screen for an extended period of time can strain your eyes. Print your work and you may—like I usually do—find some typos.
Speak your Words
Maybe you didn’t see any missing words or commas, but hearing what you wrote may uncover unseen errors.
No, don’t read each word backwards, read the sentences in reverse order, starting with the last line of your document. This trick helps because your brain knows what it meant to write, but maybe that’s not what was written.
Call on a Friend
Or a coworker. After you are satisfied with your work, it’s always a good idea to have someone else take a look at it. New eyes may spot things that you missed.
Are there other grammar questions that you’d like us to explore further? Let us know in the comments!
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Proofreading, the action of editing your writing carefully to find any grammatical or spelling errors, is an important step for everyone to take—especially in public relations and writing.
As public relations and marketing professionals, we are tasked with using our knowledge about words and grammar to ensure that client press releases, brochures, newsletters, social media posts, website text and other content are free of errors and typos.
The way we create content has evolved throughout the years, and it’s made society hungry for information right away. Content is distributed much quicker these days via blogs, social media and websites. That increases the risk of simple, yet crucial mistakes that could impact your credibility as a business or professional. Just last month, the Texas Longhorns college football team released a media guide with a URL typo — Texas was misspelled— at the bottom of every page. Similarly, the Colorado Rockies baseball team misspelled the last name of one of its players on 15,000 promotional shirts, resulting in an apology on social media and the need to manufacture additional shirts for replacement.
Here are some tips to help you effectively proof your writing:
- Concentrate—The industry is quick-paced, and if you’re working on multiple projects at one time, chances are you’re going to lose focus and you won’t catch all of the mistakes in the copy you are editing. Read all of the content (including headlines, standard boiler plates, etc.) slowly and pay attention to grammar.
- Step away for a while—After spending hours writing content, you’re so familiar with it that even if there is a mistake, you won’t notice it because your mind tends to fill in the blanks. If you’re writing in the evening, go to bed and give the copy a fresh look in the morning. You’re more likely to find an error once you’ve had a chance to think about something else.
- Have someone else read it—If you’re on a tight deadline and don’t have time for a breather, ask a co-worker to proofread your content. Even if you do have time to go over your writing a few times, consider asking someone else to look it over. A fresh set of eyes might catch something you missed.
- Print it out—Nothing beats the classic “red pen” method. Printing out a hard copy of your work allows you to review it in a different format. Read it carefully and mark any mistakes in red or brightly-colored ink so that you don’t miss any corrections when you’re fixing them on the digital copy.
Do you have any proofreading tips? Share them with us in the comments!