7 tips to be the best proofreader ever

Whether a blog, an article, an essay or just an e-mail, error-free writing is essential. Although revisions can avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes, fatigue, distractions, and tight delivery deadlines can make the correction process impossible. In this blog, we will give some tips and techniques for reviewing your texts faster and more effectively.

  1. Concentration: the key

If what you’re going to do is find errors in a text, you need concentration. Turn off the phone, television and radio, disconnect from social networks and avoid the famous multitasking. Concentrate on a sentence at a time. Many writers make the mistake of trying to read all the material at once. The ideal approach is to evaluate sentences one by one, checking its structure, punctuation, and clarity.

  1. Paper is my ally

Reading on a screen is not the same as reading on paper, so if possible, print a copy of your text. Another technique is using a piece of paper to cover the lines that are below what you are reading so your eyes don’t get distracted with the text that is to come.

  1. Beware of homonyms

Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings, for example their, they’re and there.They can be a real nightmare: automatic correctors do not detect them because they are words without spelling errors, but placed in the wrong context.

  1. Punctuation

Focusing on words is fine, but do not forget punctuation. Pay attention to the words in capital letters, missing commas, periods used incorrectly, etc. A technique used in editing is drawing circles around all punctuation. For this, print your work and then mark every comma, semicolon, colon, etc. to assess each one of them. If your work is extensive, you can bold all punctuation for review directly from your word processor and get a similar effect. By putting all your attention on  punctuation, errors are often discovered in sentence structure.

  1. Backwards

When we write, sometimes it is almost impossible to detect our own mistakes, because our brain automatically “corrects” misspelled words or missing letters. To break this pattern, you can read the text from the end, word for word. This breaks the expected peace and flow of writing and allows your mind to focus on the words and letters.

  1. Go away

Put the text aside for a time (15 minutes, one day, one week), between writing and editing. Taking some distance from the text will help you see the mistakes. Instead of correcting immediately, many writers have discovered that when reviewing the work later, familiarity disappears, thus improving their ability to detect errors quickly.

  1. A correction service

After checking all the previous points, do not forget that you can also ask someone else for help. A stranger to the text will be in a better position to assess whether the sentences make sense or not.

So, how good are you? There is one error in this text. Did you spot it while reading? Try out the techniques and find it! Post your finding in the comments section and see who gets it first!