What Is the Main Action a Writer Takes When Proofreading?

What Is the Main Action a Writer Takes When Proofreading?

Reader Comments (23)

  1. Does sloppy writing imply sloppy work? It might. Why would you want to risk that? Proofread and edit everything. If you can, get someone else to do it, before your reader sees it.

    “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”
    ~Robert Cormier

  2. Reading with a card or something can help but isn’t it difficult when you have to proofread an article on your computer or laptop? I think it is. In fact, for me it is impossible. So, I am using other techniques to make sure that what I write (other the comments) is typo free.
    1. I use Google Dictionary, that I have embedded in my browser, to check the accuracy of each and every word by double clicking on it. When you would do so, and if you would, a pop-up window will show the meaning of the word you have written.
    2. To check names of individuals, places and companies I use Ctrl+F function. With this, you can actually search and replace all the names in your document, just before hitting publish or submit.

    • Be careful with “replace all” in academic text especially, because you might accidentally replace the name of an author in the citation list.

      By the way, those who proofread video transcripts need to be careful. I once saw “Coleen” instead of the correct spelling for the chemical “choline” and for translated text be careful to catch if a writer translated directly when unnecessary. Someone once spotted the Malay language direct translation “tunjuk dia tali-talinya” for “show him the ropes” and “Api!” (fire as in Burn) when the correct translation should have been “Tembak!” (Fire as in Shoot).

  3. Great tips. I found your thoughts about digital marketing to be intriguing. For me it was exactly opposite. I have a degree in Communication and Psychology, purchased courses in writing and even wrote prolifically. But submitting to offline magazine editors just didn’t work for me. Maybe it was a confidence thing like what you experienced, I don’t know. What I do know is that when I went digital everything I wasn’t able to do with paper and pen became instantly doable.

  4. All your methods are really interesting! I hate proofreading because I rarely see any typos and mistakes. Anyway, I will try these methods and see whether proofreading will be easier next time

  5. When I’m under a tight deadline and I need to check for grammatical errors, I use a TTS reader (text to speech). There are many available for free online. Unlike the human brain, TTS won’t automatically fill in missing words, and it always helps to hear your writing read aloud

    • I agree – I like the idea of reading your writing out loud. It also helps you to review your style, as anything awkward or overly formal will stand out straight away when it’s spoken.

  6. Great article Stephanie, I really enjoyed the read.

    Although I now have an editorial team to work with and pass my content to for final proofing, in my previous role I had to do it all myself. I used the first method you have described and as time consuming as it was – it worked. That said, I wish I had known about your technique ten years ago, it would have saved me so much time!

    Looking forward to reading your future posts!

    • I think all the methods I covered are fairly time-consuming, but like you said, they work. When you take shortcuts while proofreading, you typically just miss errors that should be corrected. Great writing, in general, takes time. 🙂

  7. Hi Stefanie Flaxman, thanks for providing us with practical tips on proofreading. Reading backward, from the last sentence to the first is really helpful. This slows down our reading, and we are able to catch more typos or missing words. Also, changing the font size helps in proofreading.

  8. I always get somebody else to look over my work before posting as I am notorious for zoning out during the writing process. Even though I have a good level of grammar, your head can sometimes race ahead and you are already thinking about writing the next paragraph.

    Slowing down might be the next logical step because as you say, when the error leads to the typing of a word, even a wrong one, it is difficult to spot.

  9. Great thoughts shared here Stefanie. When I proofread content, I like to read what i have written slowly and loudly. When you read, you tend not to omit words.

    I also generally proofread content only after several hours have gone by since I wrote that piece of content. That way, I can avoid the bias your brain has to correct typos automatically, since it just wrote out what it “believes” is great content, just because it is super-familiar with it.

  10. Thanks for sharing your great post! I edit and proofread a lot of book manuscripts. Going slow is key! I’ve also used the reading backward tactic, especially when working with a particularly stubborn section of writing. Changing your perspective like that helps so very much.

  11. Hi Stephanie,

    Great article! I love the combination of tactile engagement with the content as well as working backward to keep your mind and eyes from glazing over as you look through the piece.

    I noticed early on in this piece a sentence that could use a touch-up – especially since this is an article about proofreading – “There’s a common misconception is that proofreading is the same activity as reading.”

    I think eyes glazed over the ‘is’ in that sentence when it got reworked. Hopefully that’s helpful!

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts!

  12. For me, this rings home the most with social media posts and text messages. Too many times I have an oh-no moment because I didn’t proof something as simple as a text message.

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