Proofreading is one of the most important steps in your writing process. Everything needs proofreading: novels, infographics, images with quotes, blog posts, and general website content – all of it should be proofread. More visible mistakes equal less credibility. You want to show readers you are thorough and effective, but frequent misspellings and improper use of grammar and punctuation can be seen as a sign of carelessness and inexperience. Even the best writers and editors miss mistakes now and then, and oftentimes, spellcheck and auto-correct features make us look worse instead of better, but you can take steps to minimize those mistakes and put your best work in front of your readers. Here are a few tips:
1. Print out your work. When you review your work on the computer you’re more likely to skim, focusing less on each word. When you print out the document, the text looks different and your eyes focus on individual words rather than groups of words or complete sentences.
2. Mark it up. Take that hard copy you just printed and use a pen or pencil to follow each word and mark the mistakes and other areas that need to be addressed.
3. Change the font. If you wrote the document in Times New Roman, change it to something different like Calibri or Comic Sans. The new font forces your eyes to view the words differently.
4. Give it time. Turn off the computer and come back to your document in a week or two. I know you want to get that project finished ASAP, but taking a break and going back to review it later gives your eyes and brain time to refocus. For shorter writing projects like blog posts or magazine articles, two or three days off before proofreading should be fine, but take a longer time away for bigger projects.
5. Get a second party to proofread your document. When you read your own work, you know what you want to say, or meant to say, so even if the words are scrambled or misspelled, your brain may read it the way you intended. Someone with no previous knowledge of the content will be more effective at finding mistakes.