[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s easy to get too close to your content. After all, you created it and you know what it’s supposed to say and how it’s supposed to read. Sometimes your mind can’t help but fill in the gaps. But there’s nothing (well, very few things) worse than hitting send on that important email realizing you made a last second error. Quick! Undo send! Abort!
Becoming a better proofreader is a lesson in ego checking. You can’t be a content powerhouse all by yourself, which means being open to editing. When The Beatles said “I get by with a little help from my friends,” they were actually talking about proofreading.
Here are five tips to try and reduce those “D’oh!” moments and eliminate cringe-worthy errors.
- Always seek out a second pair of eyes. Keep in mind, these eyes don’t need to be your supervisor or someone senior to you. Anyone at your organization with strong rhetoric skills can become a trusted ally in producing quality work. When it comes to your grammar, keep an open mind and let your work improve from the suggestions of others.
- Read each word. Silly errors are made when we try to fly though the proofreading process and skim through a finished product. Try to look at each word. Our minds are powerful and often fix that spelling error or subject verb agreement blip without letting our conscious mind know about it.
- Print it out. Save the trees, when possible, of course. But it is absolutely worth printing out an important document. Copy it into a word processor (if it’s not there already), double space it, and print out a hard copy. Get out your editing pen, and make notes to yourself. It’s often too hard to keep track of a document on a screen and it’s easier to catch those nit-picky changes with a pen in hand.
- Give yourself time. It doesn’t need to be all day, since many of us work on tight deadlines. Even twenty minutes of brain rest on a piece of copy can make a world of difference. Giving your eyes a break from the screen will force your brain to reset and start fresh on the next run-through.
- Read it out loud. At first you may feel a bit odd, but a strong whisper does the trick. Reading out loud forces your brain to focus on each word and you’ll be much more likely to find hidden errors.
Even the world’s strongest writers rely heavily on an editor. Not to mention, being edited in turn helps you become a stronger editor.
Here are a couple more resources that may help take your proofreading to the next level:
What are some ways that you ensure quality written work and avoid easy mistakes?
The brains behind this operation.