An old truism says you should say what you mean and mean what you say, and that goes for writing, too. Whether it's a slip of our typing fingers or a momentary confusion over two homophones, we all make errors when we write. The trick is to catch them in proofreading. Here are seven proofreading tips to help you do so:
- Let the work sit. Giving yourself some time between writing and proofing lets your mental buffer clear out. Your brain won't be primed with what it expects to see, so it'll catch errors more easily.
- Read the work out loud. Pay close attention as you read and let your tongue and your ears find the rough spots .
- Give your work multiple passes. Look for one type of error on each proofreading pass. Read once for grammar, once for spelling and once for punctuation.
- Check easily confused words against a dictionary. Don't worry, lots of people suffer from they're/there/their and two/too/to and then/than confusion! (And your spellchecker won't care.)
- Keep a keen eye on your punctuation. Commas, periods, and semicolons are mischievous, easily misplaced things, and semicolons can be especially problematic!
- Know your grammar. You don't have to answer a pop quiz on the subjunctive , but knowing the basics like subject-verb agreement and pronoun agreement (they proofread, but he proofreads) will help you keep all parts of your writing working as they should work. (And definitely not as they should works.)
- Know thyself. As Sun-Tzu said, if you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles. In this case, you should know what errors you're prone to making. Commas sneak in where they're not welcome? Does tense time travel from present to past and back again? Have a bad case of the "teh"s? Know what to look out for when you're proofreading.
If you could use professional proofreading service, or an editing service to give you a second opinion, contact the pros at Hurley Write .