Improving Your Proofreading Skills
Nobody wants to red a stry with tonz of tapas. That’s why proofreading is essential.
Still, it’s not all that exciting. If you’d like to expedite your proofreading so you can get back to good old fashioned writing, consider these three tips.
Print It Out
Phones and computer screens are made for scrolling. Most visitors spend a matter of seconds on webpages before moving on to the next. So when we proofread on digital screens, we tend to skip over things we shouldn’t, simply because our brains are trained to scroll.
Printed pages, on the other hand, make up books and newspapers. And since those typically offer longer, more detailed reading experiences, we usually read them more closely. As a result, you might find that you proofread best on a printed page.
If you opt for this method, keep a pen on hand. Mark up your paper. Check off any issues you see. Write new ideas as they come to you. This method of proofreading requires additional time, but the end result is worth it.
Take a Break, Then Revisit
You know that last essay before summer break? The one you turned in a few minutes before it was due? You probably flipped through it, said, “Good enough,” then dove headfirst into the nearest swimming pool.
I will not come between any student and their summer. But for optimal results, taking a break between writing and revision works wonders.
This method allows our unconscious mind time to compute what we wrote. Plus, editing requires a different kind of thinking than writing does. Sometimes when our mind tries to make that transition, we stall. If you have days, hours, or minutes to spare, take them. Let your mind return fresh for proofreading.
Use Your Computer’s Voice Command
I don’t know about you, but my eyes tend to to skip over little things like missing or repeated words (did you notice the one in this sentence?). Fortunately, your ears catch what your eyes miss.
If you dislike my first tip and prefer to proofread on a computer, try using your computer’s voice command feature. On a Mac, go to System Preferences and click “Dictation & Speech.” From there, you can enter custom keystrokes that make your computer read highlighted text. The voice selection isn’t stellar, but hey. This isn’t public radio. This is proofreading.
Listen and read at the same time. Look out for repetition, awkward phrasing, and clunky sentence structure. I use this method for everything I write (including this very article).