A decent chunk of our working week is spent either working with or speaking to proofreaders about various projects or queries they might have. We have asked Anna, one of our proofreaders, to offer some advice to any budding writers about the best ways to fine-tune their manuscript.
Here’s what she had to say…
1. Firstly, take a break before proofreading.
It’s much easier to edit someone else’s work than your own, simply because you are removed from the copy and see it with fresh eyes. The only way to recreate that scenario is to take a break and give your brain a rest from ingesting the same material for a prolonged period.
2. Print it out.
Obviously, you aren’t going to do this for every email you send. But, for important emails, blog posts and reports, this is a great technique. By printing out your document and looking at it from a different perspective, the theory is you can catch some errors that would have otherwise just snuck by.
3. Read it aloud.
You should read everything you write aloud. Our ears are excellent calibrators, so when something doesn’t sound quite right, it invariably isn’t!
For the sake of people around you, you can read it aloud… to yourself. But this alone will reduce most errors and suffice for short, quick emails.
4. Read it bottom-to-top.
It sounds strange, but this will help you see typos you would otherwise miss. The reason many of us make typos is that our brain starts to assume what is coming next and it skims over words. Reading the last sentence first and working your way backwards through the text eliminates that assumption and focuses your mind on every individual word.
5. Watch out for common word mistakes.
Sounds like common sense but there are some words many people tend to misuse, such as your and you’re. Be cautious – even do a global search on your document for those words to ensure you've used them correctly. We also recommend you use spell and grammar checks on all documents. Every little helps!