5 Proofreading Strategies Every Writer Should Know

Catch your own mistakes

Need some help in the proofreading department? Having another set of eyes is great. Sometimes that isn’t an option, though.

1. End to beginning

Read from the bottom of the article or essay to the top – end to beginning. This helps your eyes and brain see what is actually there (on the computer screen or on the paper), rather than what you “know” is supposed to be there.

2. Get Vocal

Read your work out loud. Sometimes you can catch your mistakes if you simply mouth the words, but it always helps to say them. You will be surprised how many mistakes you find.

3. Homophones

Pay particular attention to homophones – their, there, and they’re is a killer. Know which one you mean, and use it correctly.

4. It isn’t all about spell check

Run spell check, but don’t bet the farm on it. Spell check will help you, but it only checks the words that are there. It doesn’t check for meaning. If you type “form” instead of “from”, spell check won’t help you.

5. Give yourself some space

If you are typing on the computer, set your spacing to double or more. This keeps the words from closing in on one another and gives your eyes an opportunity to focus. Also, Verdana is supposed to be the font that is the easiest for us to read on a computer screen. If you are writing by hand, skip several lines between each line of writing.


A few bonus tips for proofreading

Look for contractions – make sure these are used correctly. If you are writing an academic or formal essay, eliminate these.

Check your comma usage. Review some of the common comma usage errors, such as missing commas before a coordinating conjunction (and, or, but, for, so, nor, yet) that cause run-on sentences.

What are your proofreading strategies?

photo credit: Paul Watson via photopin cc

About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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5 Responses to 5 Proofreading Strategies Every Writer Should Know

  1. DM says:

    These are great words of advice. Thanks for listing these.

  2. Roger says:

    I never considered reading it backwards. Great idea. Thanks. When I was being taught to paint, I was told to paint things upside down for the same reason.

  3. These tips are golden. I do all of the above except read from the bottom – which I never thought of (but think is brilliant) – and type words with double spaces.

    I’m in the middle of expanding a revised version of a Kindle product I published, so I’m looking forward to the review process once all is said and done.

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