If you can’t afford professional proofreading services and instead opt to step out onto a grammatical tightrope and proofread your own work, you should do so with care. It is often very difficult to proofread your own writing because you are very familiar with its content, and you know what it should say. Sadly, what your written communications should say, does not always mirror what they actually do say. If you’re an ESL student, or grammar and punctuation aren’t exactly your forte, you will find proofreading an extremely difficult and time-consuming process.
If you really must insist on proofreading your own work then break the task up into manageable chunks, making sure that you approach each element in a methodical manner. Our proofreader’s checklist contains a list of steps that you can progress through in order to ensure that your draft is proofread fully.
Step One: Getting Ready to Walk the Tightrope
- Have all the necessary equipment you will need to walk the tightrope. Print out any style guides you are required to follow, instructions for the document and have a good dictionary and thesaurus to hand.
- Prepare yourself mentally. Don’t even contemplate stepping out onto the proofreading tightrope unless you are of the right frame of mind. Proofreading requires a great deal of concentration and effort and if you’re “just not in the mood,” don’t even attempt it. Get your composure, clear space in your head and focus fully on the task in hand.
- Ensure that all the basic safety nets have been deployed. Run the automatic grammar and spell check software on your word processor as the first port of call. This will help to identify glaringly obvious spelling and grammar errors. However, don’t rely on this as your sole proofreading tool. Spell checkers are very limited and have some major flaws. They are great for preparing your document for full proofreading, but you will need to engage further measures to have the confidence that your final document is perfect.
Step Two: Walking the Highwire
- Proofread the document very slowly. Take one small step at a time and focus your full attention on every single word and punctuation mark. If it helps, use a piece of paper to uncover each word in turn. The more carefully you approach the task, the higher your chances are of completing it without any mistakes.
- If necessary, stop for a rest. If you find your concentration waning, take a break. It is far better to stand still for a while than it is to rush to the other side and make fatal errors. If you were to walk across a tightrope, you wouldn’t even attempt it if you didn’t believe that you could complete the task safely. Think of proofreading in a similar light; if you are not going to be able to put your full attention into the task then don’t attempt it until you can. A document that is 1/2 or 1/4 proofread is just as bad as one that hasn’t been checked at all.
- Just like tightrope walking, proofreading has many different elements. Instead of attempting everything at once, consider completing several passes of the document; one for spelling, one for punctuation and one for vocabulary. If you have the time, do each of these tasks on a separate occasion. This will give you even greater focus and you will identify a greater number of mistakes.
Step Three: Reap the Rewards
- When you finally reach the opposite side of the proofreading tightrope give yourself a big pat on the back and relax. You have faced your fears head on and hopefully emerged unscathed. Best of all, you can publish your document with confidence, knowing that it contains no mistakes that could detract from all your hard work.
If proofreading really isn’t for you, then consider utilizing the services of a professional. Vappingo’s proofreaders are highly qualified experts and have they have the knowledge and experience it takes to proofread documents to perfection. Check out our online proofreading services today.