5 Tips to Improve Your Proofreading Abilities

3 Jan, 2016 Book Writing

Wouldn’t it be great if you never made a grammar or spelling mistake? Well, unfortunately this isn’t the case. Even the most skilled authors are guilty of making mistakes when writing, ranging from improper use of punctuation to poor wording, misspellings and more.

By proofreading your work before publishing, however, you can catch and fix these mistakes so it doesn’t have a negative impact on your image as an author.

Use Spellcheck

Among the most useful tools at an author’s disposal is spellcheck. Hitting the spellcheck button on your document can reveal numerous spelling and grammar mistakes that would otherwise go unnoticed. Just remember that spellcheck isn’t going to catch all mistakes. Therefore, you should use it to compliment your proofreading efforts rather than relying solely on it.

In the event that you are writing in an application or program that does not have a spellcheck feature, copy and paste the text into an online spellcheck tool, like the one located at http://spellcheckplus.com/.

Read Silently and Then Aloud

Should you read your work silently or aloud? If you asked ten different authors, you probably find half prefer to read silently and the other half prefer to read aloud. Instead of choosing between the two, however, you should read back your work both silently and then aloud. After you are finished writing, read your work silently to see if you catch any mistakes. Assuming there are no mistakes present, read it once again but this time aloud.

Read Backwards to Check Spelling

Granted, it’s difficult to comprehend a piece of written work when you read it backwards, but this is a highly effective way to catch spelling mistakes. If you don’t believe, try it with this blog post. Your brain will become focused on each word, allowing you to catch spelling mistakes with greater ease. When you read normally, from top to bottom left to right, your brain actually skips over words. But when you read backwards, from bottom to top right to left, you will remain focused on each word.

Check for Double Spaces

One of the most common mistakes that authors make is using double spaces. Instead of tapping the spacebar once, they tap it twice, leaving a large voided area between words. If you are using Microsoft Word, it will automatically reveal double spaces by placing a green line under them. For other document editing programs, you can try to use the find and replace feature, searching for double spaces and replacing them with single spaces.

ONE Space After a Period!

And by the way, if you learned to type on a typewriter, you were taught to add two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence — this is considered outdated due to how word processors and modern printers don’t need the extra room. As a writer, nothing shows your age faster than two spaces after a period! Make sure you’re writing for the 21st century and add only one space after periods.

Cover Material that Hasn’t Been Proofed

Whether you are proofreading a physical piece of paper or digital words on a computer screen, try covering up the material that you haven’t proofed yet. Doing so will prevent your eyes from wandering, which should prove helpful in keeping you concentrated on the appropriate sentences. As you continue to proofread, you can move the paper covering the material to reveal the next sentence. Continue doing this until you’ve successfully proofed the entire piece.

Have any other proofreading tips that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/

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