How to Proofread in 5 Easy Steps

Please drive safetyIf you’re wondering how to proofread, this is certainly the article for you.  We’re going to reveal the five basic steps of proofreading and give you hints and tips for making sure that your final written English is error free.

Everyone knows that written English should be free of grammatical and spelling errors, and everyone knows the importance of proofreading.  However, not everyone knows how to proofread and when it comes to the boring task of checking a document for mistakes, many people choose to ditch the proofreading process or engage in a half-hearted attempt to find errors.

How to Proofread

If you are going to take the time and effort to proofread your work, you need to know how to proofread properly. Try following these five approaches to proofreading:

How to proofread in 5 easy steps

Picture of the number oneWait.

Once you have finished your document, set it aside for at least 24 hours.  It is very common for people to make the mistake of trying to proofread a document as soon as they have finished writing it.  The problem with this approach is that you have been immersed in the document for a period of time and will be highly unlikely to be able to identify mistakes; your brain will tell you what you believe is written down, not what actually is there.

Picture of the number twoPrint the document.

Don’t attempt to proofread writing that is on the computer screen.  You will find it much easier to spot mistakes on printed copy.  Sit in front of your computer with the printed copy and correct errors on screen as, and when, you see them.

Picture of the number threeRead your paper aloud.

On the first proofreading pass, read your paper to yourself out loud.  Regress to childhood and follow each word you read with your finger.  This will encourage you to look carefully at each word as you read it and, by reading the sentences aloud, you will be able to hear how they actually sound.  This will help you to identify problems with sentence structure.

Picture of the number fourRead from the bottom up.

On the second proofreading pass (yes, you should do more than one) read the document from the end to the beginning.  When performing this type of proofreading, you are not looking for incorrect sentence structure (this should have been identified on the first pass), you are focusing on each word in turn.  This will hopefully help you to look carefully at individual words and recognize spelling and typographical errors.

Picture of the number fiveFind a friend.

Asking someone else who knows how to proofread to help you to check your work is a really good idea because a second set of eyes can be very effective.  If you can’t afford professional proofreading services, then ask a friend for help.  They will be able to take an unbiased look at what you have written and will be much better placed to spot mistakes.

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