Today's special guest is Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly.com, and he's sharing some great tips for writers on the importance of proofreading...
Proofreading, or line editing, is an essential skill set that every writer must acquire. Whether it be writing for a blog, a college essay or even a work related email, proofing your work is essential. Day in and day out, I spend my time studying people’s writing for my work at Grammarly.com, and it has become apparent to me that most people only afford the minimum amount of time to proofread their work. Granted, it’s been a few years since your last grammar class back in high school, but it is high time the writing world at large become expert proofreaders. Fear not ye intrepid scribes, for I am here to help you! As with most things, becoming an excellent proofreader just takes time and practice.
The first step is to set aside a proper allotment of time to work on proofreading your text. Proofreading takes concentration, which means turning off your cell phones, shutting off the television, and minimizing Reddit. I know it is painful, but you have to do it. All done? Great! Let’s get started.
Below are some easy-to-follow steps to help you on your way:
- Read slowly — perhaps the most important step to proofing is to read slowly and read out loud. Saying every word allows you to hear mistakes you might otherwise miss.
- Correct one thing at a time — trying to correct every error in a paper can at times be a bit overwhelming. Instead, try to focus on one type of error. For example, it is easier to find and correct grammatical errors when you are only looking for grammatical errors. In summation, just take your time and be as thorough as possible.
- Highlight punctuation — pro-tip here: highlight every punctuation mark. This forces you to study every mark and determine whether or not it is appropriate.
- Read backwards — start from the very last word of the text. Reading backwards, word by word, is an effective technique to spot and fix spelling errors. It is also an excellent way to isolate sentences. Isolating sentences is an excellent way to give each sentence the attention it needs and expose errors you otherwise might have missed.
- Ask for help — don’t be afraid! Proofreading is a difficult and often tedious process, so it is important to ask for help when you need it! It is never a bad idea either to have a second set of eyes check over your work.
- Look it up — when in doubt, always look it up. You think this sentence needs an extra comma? Look it up. Is that word being used incorrectly? Look it up. Is this en-dash supposed to…yea, you got it. Look it up —a simple but effective practice.
- Use online resources — fortunately enough, you live in the digital age, and that comes with some pretty lofty benefits. For one, there are a multitude of websites that specialize in proofreading. Sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, for example, have a multitude of valuable resources wherein you could learn about grammar and different writing styles. Further, there are now a wide array of online proofreaders that can correct spelling and grammatical errors. One such site is Grammarly—an excellent proofing site that offers more than your average proofing site. Grammarly can even improve the quality of writing by offering input on style, detect plagiarized materials, improve diction and more. Undoubtedly, it is an excellent resource for any writer.
By Nikolas Baron