Check, Check, and Check Again! Proofreading Habits That Make You Smarter
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By Priyadarshini Mahendran
Writing an email to an important client? Preparing a report with the sales numbers? Sending a memo out to your team?
Did you check for errors before sending it out?
You definitely should; You do not want them reading a text full of errors.
Whether you are writing an article, an email, a report or a memo, ensuring that your text is free from error is vital. The spell-check option in Word will definitely help, but it isn’t foolproof. This is when you need to proofread. Before you start, give yourself a break. This will clear your mind and you will be able to review your work with a fresh mind.
Make a habit of the below proofreading tips:
- Read your work, word by word. Check for errors in spelling (their/there), contractions (your/you’re, he’ll, they’ll), sentence structure, usage of words (accept/except), capitalization (China/china) and punctuation. Ensure that you’ve got your facts right. It also helps to read it out loud. You will hear mistakes if you’ve overseen them.
- Check if there is a natural flow to your text. There should be a logical transition from start to finish and the message should be conveyed effectively. Do not use fancy jargon – Keep it as natural as possible and delete words that aren’t necessary. Keep it crisp and simple.
- Always verify your sources and check if your entire document follows the rules of the style guide you are using (MLA, APA or any other style). Check for consistency in language, font, page layout and design.
- Create a list, with errors that you commonly make, so that you can tick them off your list the next time you need to proofread. Saves you time and keeps you focused.
- Finally, you’ve done all you can to ensure it’s perfect. Just to be sure, ask someone you trust, to proofread it once. Their eyes might catch something that you didn’t.
With writing, your job isn’t done. Reviewing your work is extremely important.
Always proofread before you hit that ‘send’ button.
Priyadarshini is a CELTA Cambridge graduate and a passionate English language trainer. She enjoys reading, writing and listening to music.