We’ve all been there. It’s 2 a.m., and you’ve finally finished your masterpiece. At this point, you just want to check it off the list as done.
The problem is that there will always be some errors. Even the savviest writers and editors mess up, so it’s natural and should be expected. However, because you know this means that it is ever the more important to proofread your work for any grammar mistakes, spelling errors and the like.
Here are my top 10 tips and tricks for proofreading, so grab some coffee and happy editing:
1. Wait Until the Last Minute for Final Touches
Rather than trying to alter your work before finalizing, it’s better to let your writing sit and breathe for a few days before you make any major adjustments. That way, you’re fully out of your creative mode and can look at your piece with a new set of eyes.
2. Focus All Your Efforts on Proofreading
Even though you may think you have a better idea for a sentence, now is the time to forget about the content you wrote and instead focus on grammar, punctuation and spelling.
3. Spellcheck the Old-Fashioned Way
Yep, with your eyes and judgment. Tools like spelling and grammar automation can be huge saviors in a lot of cases, but they can also be pretty limited. Here’s where technology is barren, and still a need for humans (yay!).
4. Develop a System for Checking Different Types of Errors
Web content writer Julianne Hudson suggests that writers go through the document to carefully scan for specific errors one at a time. She says that “it’s surprising how staying focused on one thing helps your brain pick on mistakes in writing a lot faster and more efficiently.”
5. Read it Out Loud
This may make you feel a little silly at first, but it tends to help writers steer clear from awkward wording and rambling sentences.
6. Phone a Friend
Having another pair of eyes to proofread your work can sometimes be just the right medicine. An outside editor can also help point out any biases in your writing as well.
7. Verify Your Sources
While it may seem tedious, this part is actually very important. Plagiarism is a serious offense — but even so, you want to be taken seriously. Check your sources to make sure they add up with your content, and you should be golden!
8. Keep Tabs on Your Progress
Re-reading the same piece over and over again can make anyone’s eyes glaze over, even if it’s your baby. So long as you’re aware whenever you drift off and catch yourself, the quicker and better proofreading session you’ll have.
9. Format Last
Page numbers, headlines, margins, etc., can change many times throughout the writing period. Make sure to format at the end so you don’t wind up redoing any work later.
10. When in Doubt, Consult the Writing Guides
Thankfully, there are a variety of great resources you can use if you need help with proofreading or grammar. A few include:
- Via Writing & State of Writing: grammar blogs to help you ensure wording accuracy
- Simple Grad & My Writing Way: useful writing guides and expert tips
- Studydemic & Writing Populist: writing communities to help work through writer’s block or idea generation
- Grammar Checker & AcademAdvisor: grammar tools designed to make editing easier
Remember these tips for your next masterpiece.
— Grace Carter