Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Writing Tips: 5 Secrets of Highly Effective Proofreading

No matter how nitpicky you are, errors in your writing will camouflage themselves. That's why publishing companies spend a lot of money to have multiple people check and re-check the little details in every book they produce. Still, there's no need to fear if you don't have a professional team at work every time you jot down a memo. Here are some tricks I use for effective proofreading:

1. Give it some time. If you've written a short note that you want to check for errors, do something else for five minutes before you read it over again. If you've written an article or essay, eat lunch before you proofread... if a book, wait a month or so. When the words you meant to write are fresh in your mind, you won't see the words you actually did write.

2. Take your time. Don't speedread when you're proofing. Skimmers never prosper.

3. Read out loud! I know, I know, if you mutter to yourself all the time you'll look like a crazy person. But it's worth it. Your ears will often catch what your eyes do not, so read under your breath when you're looking for errors.

4. Check for homophones--"soundalikes." I mark them in my students' writing all the time, but they're just as prone to show up in mine: here/hear, right/write, its/it's, there/their/they're, and all the rest of them. Put your brain on red alert for these, because we ALL type the wrong one now and again, and most of us won't see it afterward if we're not looking.

5. If it sounds wrong, check it. If a sentence sounds wrong to you, chances are there's something off in the grammar. Don't stay in a grey zone on this--learn what the problem is so you don't keep making it. I recommend Strunk and White's Elements of Style for the most common foibles.

That's it for today... I'm off to do email for five minutes, after which I'll come proofread these tips!

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Anonymous Rachel Rossano said...

All of it is good advice, oh guru of the written word. ;) Thanks for the list. :)

9:43 a.m.  
Blogger Abigail Grace said...

Very good tip! I find myself doing all of those on a regular basis. Also, one of the best ways to find mistakes is to let someone else look it over. It's amazing how much someone else can find that I completely miss . . . especially when it comes to spelling. hehe


2:50 p.m.  
Anonymous spunky jr said...

Thanks for sharing those tips! I've used some of them before and they sure have helped. Unfortunately, I sometimes slip and don't do a very good job of proofing and it shows!

Thanks again!

5:28 p.m.  
Blogger Ziomal said...

Very nice! I like it. dollywood grand opening

5:35 p.m.  

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