Proofreading is a vital skill for any writer. It’s not just about making sure the spelling and grammar are correct, it’s also about checking facts and verifying information to make sure there are no mistakes. But how do you improve your proofreading skills? Here are 15 ways that will help!
1. Reading out loud
Start by reading out loud as much as possible. Out loud is the best way to spot small errors which you may have missed in your reading, such as word omissions or repeated words.
2. Sentence by sentence
Read your work backwards sentence by sentence – this helps because when you’re focusing on each individual part there’s less chance of being distracted and missing a mistake in another section.
3. Use a ruler
Also try using a ruler to guide your eyes across the page, or make marks on paper with colored pens. This will prevent you from skipping over errors and help keep your focus where it should be – on checking for mistakes.
4. Repeat words
Reading aloud is also an effective way of spotting repeated words that might have slipped by in your reading but are noticeable when you actually say them out loud.
5. Break into sections
If your work is long, try breaking it into sections and reading each one in turn to prevent yourself from getting bored or distracted while proofreading.
Use a dictionary to check the spelling of words that you’re not 100% confident about. You can also use an online spellchecker to double check that you’ve got everything right.
7. Use words
If it’s a document full of numbers, use the ‘find and replace’ function in your word programing to change all figures into words instead – this will give you an idea about whether they’re being used correctly or not.
8. Short pieces
Start off with short pieces of writing such as emails or letters where there aren’t any complex facts to check. This will help you gain confidence in your proofreading skills and prevent any embarrassment when the time comes for checking bigger projects!
9. Making marks
Try using a ruler or making marks on paper with different colors to keep your focus where it should be. If you’re writing on a computer, try using the ‘track changes’ function which highlights any edits that have been made so you can clearly see what’s changed and easily make sure everything is correct.
10. Read more
Spend time reading through your work more than once – or better yet, get someone else to read it back to you. Often we miss mistakes because our brain has already processed the information and moved on while proofreading so listening is a great way of checking for errors that your eyes may have skimmed over!
If you’re finding it difficult to spot mistakes because the text is too small, try using a magnifying glass or zooming into your document on screen.
12. Numbering lines
Another useful trick for spotting repeated words and errors in long documents such as essays is numbering each line. This makes it very easy to go through one by one and check every sentence.
13. Facts and figures
If you’re checking facts and figures, try reading the information out loud to yourself or if it’s a very long document break into different sections and read each one individually before moving on to check the next section.
Make sure your work is as clean as possible before proofreading – remove all empty lines, spaces, tabs and any other formatting that might have been added by accident. It’s much easier to check a document that has been left in its original format!
Try proofreading your work backwards sentence by sentence. This can help you focus on individual sections at a time and spot mistakes more easily.
16. And if all else fails
Get someone else to read it back to you! Often we miss mistakes because our brain has already processed the information and moved on while proofreading so listening is a great way of checking for errors that your eyes may have skimmed over!
How long should it take to proofread 1000 words?
It takes two or three hours to edit a manuscript. You only need to do that for one book, not for an article. The average rate at which copy editors edit is four pages (or 1,000 words) per hour.
What is a proofreader salary?
The average Proofreader salary in the United States is $53,797 as of September 27, 2021. The range typically falls between $47,208 and $61,432.
How much do proofreaders earn?
On average, freelancers make around $15-$20 per hour on Proofed. It is possible to make more as you gain more experience and become better at proofreading a wider range of documents.