Our brains have the tendency to mess with us. How? Well, when we are proofreading any written work that we have done, we are likely to read the words in the way that we believe they should be written. This means that we are prone to misjudging our written work by missing typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – including punctuation, poor choice of words and wrong sentence structures. This in turn impacts the context of the work as well as the readability.
As proofreading and editing is extremely time consuming, it is unlikely that friends and family will want to spend any of their spare time doing it. Also, hiring someone to proofread and edit can be quite expensive. Therefore, it is great to learn how to help ourselves. Continue reading to discover 12 great tips on how you can proofread and edit your own work, to a high standard.
1. If you are intending to have somebody review your written work, you should ensure that you have proofread and made any necessary revisions before you give it to them.
2. Remember, Proofreading and editing mean two different things. Once you have finished your work, review it, and then edit anything that you think needs revising. You can then proofread, looking out for any typos or grammatical errors.
3. When editing your work, Microsoft Word has a handy tool to help you out. By enabling “Track Changes” your edits are essentially saved. It will mark up the word Document so you have the ability to track any changes. This means that you can easily undo and go back to any previous revisions.
4. Prior to proofreading your written piece, you should take a step back and wait. This way you can review it with fresh eyes. The general idea is, the longer the written content, the more time you should stay away from it. So, if you are writing a novel, five weeks is ideal, whereas a written blog post can be left for a few hours or overnight.
5. If you do not have spelling and grammar check automatically enabled, then you should ensure you run it once you have finished your work. Just remember that you should not rely on software to do this as it may skip over some errors.
6. Proofreading once is not enough! You have to review it at least three times, ideally more.
7. If you are using technical terms, or any words you are unfamiliar with, look them up to ensure you have the correct spelling and meaning.
8. Remember to review your headings, titles and any footnotes used.
9. There are various styles of writing. Pick one. Stick with it. It is all about constancy.
10. Think about having a writing resource that you can refer to. This way if you are ever stuck, say with a grammatical question, you will have an answer at hand.
11. Only break the rules if you have a valid explanation for it. It is common for people to intentionally use incorrect grammar. This tends to be used sparingly and for emphasis.
12. Do not proofread and edit tired! You are prone to missing simple errors. Only review work when you are awake and alert.
While some may relish in just the idea of proofreading and editing written work, others may simply hate it. It does help when you understand grammar, the whole proofreading and editing process becomes a lot more pleasant. If you doubt you will ever feel positive about proofreading and editing, then, just know that it comes with being a writer. It is unavoidable!
About the author:
Sandra Miller is a Loyola Law School graduate. Now she is a freelance writer. Always uses professional editing services to make her writing perfect. Loves creating tips for writers and students. Lives happily with her husband at Brooklyn.