My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Expert Approach to Proofreading

Tips from Proofreading: Plain and Simple by Debra Hart May, with my own commentary:
  • "Read the entire document - or a good-sized chunk of a larger document - once slowly, reading for overall content and meaning."
    • This helps you see the bigger picture. At this point, don't stop to make corrections or take notes; that will distract you from the main message the piece is trying to convey. Instead, just take in the feel of the document and make sure that it conveys what it is supposed to.
  • "Read the document again, this time aloud and even more slowly, correcting all errors you find."
    • Reading out loud helps you to comprehend what you are reading, which will make it easier to find errors. Taking words from the page and translating them into spoken language makes your brain process and concentrate on the individual words, which will alert you to any mistakes in the piece. This is also the time when you can correct any errors you found in the intital read-through.
  • "Read the document a third time, silently focusing especially on trouble spots."
    • Are there any places where the wording just didn't feel right? Spots where there were several spelling mistakes or grammatical errors? An area where the sentences didn't flow the way you want them to? Zoom in on these sections and concentrate on what you need to do to improve them.
  • "Read the document backwards. Note, however, that the verdict's still out on the value of taking this fourth step."
    • Though this step may be considered unnecessary by some people, I think that this proofreading technique is very valuable. If you read it backwards, you are more likely to catch issues that might hae otherwise been ignored, because you are forced to think about what you are reading. While it may not help much in the way of sentence structure or grammatical errors, it can certainly help with spelling. By removing other distractions, such as punctuation concerns and other proofreading errors, this method can be helpful to those that are concerned about their spelling skills.
  • "Scan the document at arm's length. Some of the most blatant, poor-impression-making errors can remain invisible until you pull back and consider the overall look and effectiveness of a page or document."
    • This tip will help you analyze your document as a whole. Instead of concentrating on the details, you can now focus on the white space, the font, the paragraph alignment, and spacing. By improving the overall look of your document, it will look more professional and impressive. It will also allow the reader to concentrate on what you have to say instead of being thrown off by an unusual spacing or extra-wide margins.

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