There are several different ways to proofread your content in order to correct those errors we all make and to try and make it as error free as possible. But before we begin it’s best if you have to understand the principles behind proofing, and in particular, the difference between editing and proofreading.
Many writers rush through their work, trying to get all their ideas down in a hurry. Unfortunately, they don’t always take the time to edit their work to ensure it reads smoothly, with good sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and clearly expressed thoughts.
Rewrite and polish your work. Once it is as final as it can be, take another pass at it, this time with your proofreading hat on. Otherwise, you are likely to just keep on adding errors to your work instead of finishing it and making sure it is perfect.
The word “publish” means to spread widely. Once you have published, you can’t go back and say, “This is what I REALLY meant,” so try to get it right from the outset. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
There are a number of steps to ensure your work is error free.
1. Check spelling
Your first steps are to check your spelling in Word, and then your grammar. Don’t rush. Make sure you check each issue that is highlighted. Don’t rush to assume you are right and the computer is wrong. In general, composing in Word first is always a good idea no matter what you are writing (blog posts, social media comments and so on), because Word will highlight errors you have made.
2. Watch the autotype
Word will also run the autotype feature, auto-correcting your typos. However, you do need to be careful with this, because it may “correct” your error with a poor choice of wording.
3. Look out for easily swapped words
Good examples of things the spellchecker might not pick up include:
of/off, of/on, and/an, an/as, he/the, or/on, it/is, it/if, is/if
4. Proofread on paper
Running the spell checker can capture nonsense, but for your really important work, consider printing it out and proofreading it on paper using a pen.
5. Watch your sentence structure
The longer your sentences get, the more sophisticated their grammar and punctuation. Keep things simple and you will be much less likely to end up with errors which you then miss.
Particular Areas to Watch Out For
- Capital letters – Every sentence should start with a capital letter. Proper nouns like John, Rome, Italy, Europe, all take capital letters. For titles, the trend is to hit the Aa button on the Word ribbon for Capitalize Each Word. However, in most cases, it will be incorrect, because words like “a,” “and,” “of,” and “the” are not capitalized in a title. Examples: “A Tale of Two Cities” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.“
- Verb tenses – Don’t mix up past and present tenses. In general, most creative writing will use the past tense.
- Subject/verb agreement – It is important to know whether your subject is singular or plural, so you can match the verb to the subject. Examples: “She was sitting on the beach“; “They were sitting on the beach.”
- Apostrophes – “Its and it’s” and “there and they’re” often cause issues. The apostrophe is a signal that one or more letters have been left out, such as “doesn’t” and “don’t.” “Does not” = “doesn’t.” “Do not” = “don’t.“
- Possessives – Again, “it’s and its” are often confused.
It’s = It is a lovely day.
The cat’s fur = Its fur.
The book’s cover = Its cover, as in, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Use this and other habits you know you have to form a checklist you can use whenever you proofread your work, and see how much your writing can improve.