Follow these 13 simple steps and become a better proof reader!
- Give it time
Where possible leave a few hours (even days) between composing and proof reading. This way you are more likely to be actually reading the content rather than simply remembering it.
To be effective you really need to concentrate, so get rid of any distractions and try to make sure you are not interrupted.
- Create a checklist
Develop a list of common mistakes, and then refer to that list each time you proof read.
- Proof on paper
People read differently on screen and on paper, so print out a copy to proof read.
- Read the text out loud
Reading the content out loud you are more likely to hear errors which your eye hasn’t spotted.
- Read it backwards
Reading backwards stops your brain automatically correcting wrong words and makes it easier to stop any errors.
- Look for one type of problem at a time
Proof your artwork several times;
– First check the actual design, checking all the elements are in place and that any images used are displayed correctly
– Next move on to the copy starting with sentence structures, then word choice, spelling, and finally punctuation.
- Watch out for homonyms
Homonyms are words that share the same pronunciation, but have different meanings. E.g. accept & except or complement & compliment.
- Look for contractions and apostrophes
Common contractions and apostrophes include their and they’re, its and it’s, your and you’re and so on. Remember an apostrophe is not used to describe plurals.
- Check the punctuation
Look out for capitalized letters and words, check all commas, apostrophes and full stops.
- Check the numbers
Always check your figures, e.g. there is a big difference between £10,000 and £100,000.
- Get someone else to proof read it
Finally get a co-worker or friend to proof read it for you. You will probably be surprised at the mistakes you’ve missed. For the most accurate results repeat this process again to get a third person to proof read your document.