There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a misspelled word when you’re out and about (but it is a little bit satisfying). Is it that the business just doesn’t care enough to proofread its work? We believe that a little proofreading goes a long way towards presenting yourself or your business in the best possible light, so we’ve put together some tips for proofreading your own work.
Before we start though, let us reassure you that mistakes are very easily made. We all do it.
When you’ve spent time on a piece of writing, it’s very easy for your brain to ‘auto-correct’ errors. Spelling and grammatical mistakes are naturally missed, as are repeated or missing words. Punctuation has so many rules, it can leave you wondering where to start.
Here are a few tips and tricks from our professional proofreader, to help you if you’re proofreading your own writing.
- Run Word’s Spelling & Grammar check, but don’t rely on it. It doesn’t always work, it can’t always pick up on context, and it doesn’t always get the grammar suggestions right, but it is a good place to start.
- Use Word’s Find function. It helps to search for words you know you often misspell/mistype, e.g. form/from, their/there/they’re, or your/you’re. I also use it to find extra spaces between words.
- Use the free 30-day trial for PerfectIt. It’s perfect if you have quite a large piece of writing to proofread. It’s been a game changer for me, as it’s fantastic for checking inconsistencies in spellings, hyphenation, capitalisation, common typos, and formatting.
- Read aloud. I do this for everything that I work on, no matter how big or small. Our ears hear what our eyes don’t see. Try to read at a slower than normal pace, too. Word offers a speak text aloud option, which I often use on my final read-through, as it means I can listen to the text and tidy up any last errors as I go.
- Change the font, colour, or size of the text. These changes force your brain to read afresh. Just remember to change it all back when you’re done!
- Print out your work. It can be much easier to spot mistakes on paper than on a computer screen (especially if you have written the document yourself).
- Proofread more than once. I proofread at least three times. First, I run a spellcheck and PerfectIt check. I follow this with the main proofread, where I read aloud. My final proofread is on a clean copy (when all changes have been accepted), and I either read aloud or use Word’s text speak function here. Try to leave as long as possible between the main proofread and the final proofread, so your brain comes back to it anew.
- Ask someone else to have a read. A fresh pair of eyes can only be a good thing. Something that’s been hiding in plain sight from you might just jump out at them.
Taking the time to show that you are can only a be a good thing, right?
(P.S. If you find a mistake in this blog, please be kind and let us know!)