A systematic approach to better proofreading
Everyone preaches the importance of proofreading, but few tell you how to do it. Here's a system to lend some structure to the task.
Everyone preaches the importance of proofreading, but few tell you how to do it. The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin offers this system to
lend some structure to the task.
Give it a rest.
Before you begin editing your document, let it "rest" for a day after writing it. You’ll spot more errors when the copy isn’t fresh in your mind.
Read hard copy.
Proofread from a printout, not a computer screen. This forces you to focus. Double-space your copy so you have plenty of space between lines to note your
Edit line by line.
Use a blank piece of paper to cover the lines below the one you’re reading so your eyes don't skip ahead. This keeps you focused on only a small portion of
text at a time, making it easier to find mistakes.
Search for one error at a time.
Read the document several times looking for different problems each time: one pass for long sentences, one for fragments, one for verb agreement, and so
Although working from hard copy is best, there are things your computer can help you spot. For instance, you can search for all instances of to, two, and
too, or there, they’re, and their, to ensure that you used each correctly.
Spell-check your document—either by reading it backward, word by word, or running it through your spell-checker. Do this last to catch any spelling errors committed during editing.