How to Proofread an Article
A serious concern for writers is writing clearly and accurately, without errors in grammar or spelling errors. This is where proofreading becomes important. Proofreading is the reading of a galley proof or an electronic copy of a publication to detect and correct production errors of text or art (Wikipedia). Because of the pressure of meeting deadlines, the proofreading process may be less effective even though it helps to avoid costly mistakes. Trying to save time while writing with as little mistakes as possible is every writer’s secret (or not so secret) wish. This article is going to not only help you with proofreading articles but give you tips on how to do it faster and save time.
Be very conscious of your weaknesses: As a writer you know some words that you spell wrongly all the time those are the kind of weaknesses I’m talking about. These misspellings could be from a mental block or because you are not very familiar with these words or because in a bid to hurry and type faster, you hit the wrong key combination. Try to understand or find out which of these cause you to make those errors and make a conscious effort to be alert and not make those mistakes. Try to discipline yourself to be alert when those words are in use.
Time advantage: It is not always best to wait till you are done writing to proofread, try to notice your words and use of grammar as you write. After writing, you may realize that you don’t see any mistakes right away. Try to wait a little and then go back to reading the article as you wouldn’t be so familiar with it anymore and you would be able to detect any mistakes.
Get someone to look it over: Try to get someone to read the article after you have written it. There may be some bias to yourself as it is your own work and you may not see some mistakes even though they are clearly present. Nothing beats getting someone else taking a fresh look at your article and helping you point out anything you may have overlooked. It is even going to be better if the person is not very familiar with your topic, as it makes it easier to tell when some things are unclear or need more explanations.
Use text to speech: Hearing your work being read out loud to you would be a big help as you get to identify any unclear statement or wrong use of grammar. This helps to make proofreading easier and works as effectively as reading aloud.
Rules are important: There are rules guiding grammar and sentence structure and they are available on the internet. Having a guidebook will help you minimize mistakes and improve your speed and accuracy as a writer.
Find what works best for you: There are a lot of proofreading methods and they may not work the same for everybody. Try to find what works for you and stick to it. Develop a routine that helps you to catch spelling or grammar errors and sentence structure mistakes. Then work on making being faster while using your preferred method.
Pay attention to your punctuation: Be focused on your punctuation, little mistakes in your punctuation use (comma, semicolon, colon period etc.) can change your sentence structure. This can help you correct mistakes easily. You can choose to put all your punctuations in bold letters so you can spot them easily and correct what needs to be corrected while proofreading. If you are writing with pen and paper, you can opt for circling your punctuations instead to get the same effect.
Try to read the text backwards: While reading your work, your brain would naturally want to fill in texts, punctuation and words that are not there. This is why you should try reading the text backwards as it helps to break the flow or rhythm of reading and make mistakes easy to spot.
Don’t rely on reading once: Do not assume that your quick once over would help you spot all the mistakes in your article. Try to go over your work a few times to fish out all the errors.
Proofreading tools: You may be very careful at going over your work but chances are; one or two grammatical or spelling errors might slip past you. This is why you should consider using free proofreading tools like Microsoft Word for your articles. This would help to spot errors that you may not easily notice.
Don’t repeat words: if you don’t want your readers to get bored, avoid repetition of words and sentence structures. A good flowing style is one that doesn’t have endless repetition regardless of the topic. This tip will help your readers enjoy your article.
Appropriate proofreading cannot be over emphasized. A properly written, edited and presented article helps to project a professional image and helps you to get taken seriously. It can be frustrating to spend hours proofreading your work and you end up seeing mistakes after it has been submitted or printed. This is why you should take out time to correctly proofread your work.