Irrespective of whether you are working on a scientific journal, magazine, or a blog, effective proofreading can improve the overall readability of your content by removing all types of errors.
Listed below are 7 techniques used by professional proof-readers to improve the quality of any document:
- Creating a check list of common errors.
Every proof-reader maintains a check list of errors to be checked in the document. Tick off each item on the checklist after completing the check on the entire document. A common check list can include points such as sentence structuring, spelling, punctuation, and consistency.
- Removing all distractions.
Effective proofreading can be achieved only if you are completely focussed on the procedure. Get rid of all distractions including cell phones, television, and even email access. At the same time, proofreading can be effective only with a fresh mind and eyes, hence ensure that you have relaxed for some time before starting on proofreading.
- Proofread on the screen and on paper.
This may sound old-fashioned, but proofreading must be done both on screen and on paper. Each mode of viewing will throw up new mistakes that you have missed with the other mode.
- Use a dictionary.
Even experienced proof-readers use the dictionary for knowing the exact meaning of words. Instead of assuming the meaning of words, you can refer to a printed (or online) dictionary for the exact meaning. You must also pay attention to the use of homonyms, which are words with same pronunciation but different meanings (example, “compliment” and “complement” or “their” and “they’re”).
- Reading the text aloud or backwards.
This is a common technique used by proof-readers. In addition to viewing the text, read the text yourself (or with your friend) to identify any problem that you may have missed. Reading the text backwards (starting from the end of the sentence) is an effective technique to identify word errors.
- Checking for logical errors.
In addition to correcting mistakes, proof-readers also check if the information is accurate and logical. This technique includes checking for incorrect proper names, currency symbols, and numbers.
- Asking for help.
After completing all rounds of proof reading, it is advisable to get it proof-read by another person. A fresh set of eyes is always effective in spotting mistakes that you may have missed.