How to Perfect Your Proofreading

Whenever I visit a website or read an email that is riddled with grammar errors or typos, I’m automatically turned off and even offended. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a writer or because I’m a perfectionist, but poor grammar is one of my biggest pet peeves and poor proofreading is right up there with it. Although I would never say I’m a perfect proofreader, I know that relying on spell-check and grammar-check doesn’t count as proofreading. Here are a few tips I can offer on proofreading for any type of online marketing writing you’re doing:

  • Take it from the…bottom? It’s really hard to catch small errors when you read straight through from top to bottom. That’s because you’re anticipating what’s coming next. This is especially true if you’re proofreading your own writing. If you start from the last sentence and work your way up to the top, the typos and grammar errors seem to jump right off the page.
  • Distance yourself. If I can avoid it, I rarely proofread something I’ve written immediately after I’ve written it. It’s still too fresh in my mind and I’m bound to miss some typos, spelling or grammar mistakes. I try to give myself at least a few hours away from a piece before I proofread it. This requires some time management and discipline, but it’s well worth it.
  • Spell-check your spell-check. I can’t count how many times spell-check has corrected something that wasn’t incorrect to begin with. Running spell-check is fine if you’re paying careful attention to the recommendations it spits out.
  • Read your work out loud. This is something I practice with caution at work so I don’t look like I’m talking to myself, but it’s actually a really great way to catch mistakes. Everything from awkward sentences to small typos are brought to light when you read your writing out loud because you’re forced to focus on each word individually.
  • Print it out. I used to do this with school papers because it strained my eyes too much to stare at a computer screen reading a 10-page paper. I still find that I proofread better when I have a printed copy in front of me (and a powerful red pen in hand!).

The biggest proofreading tip I can offer is to never assume that you don’t need to proofread. As much as I’d like to think I’m the perfect writer and proofreader, I’m not. Everyone has fallen victim to a typo here or there. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can get away without proofreading. An example of this is my last blog post. I even mentioned proofreading in that post and someone pointed out to me (after the blog was published) that there was an error in my headline!  I learned my lesson- always proofread carefully.

What do you do to ensure that your writing is fluid and free from errors?

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