A perfect proofreading guide from Word Wizard: part one

Perfect proofreading: part one

Posted: 9th Jun 2014

HAVE YOU EVER looked back at work you’ve done and wondered just how it ended up with so many mistakes in it? Do you always discover these errors when it’s too late, and you’ve already sent out your customer email or sent your leaflet to be printed 5,000 times? If this is the case, then you’ve come to the right place for some tips on improving your work. All it takes is a little time and patience. Here are our first five tips. A second part follows next week:

1 – Print out your document on A4 paper. Include a 2cm margin all round, and in double line spacing. Use a font that is easy to read, and isn’t elaborate (such as this one, which is Arial). The idea is to make the page as plain and simple as possible for reading. Print in black.

2 – Read through once without making any marks. You’re looking to make a mental note of any ‘red flags’ that come up as you read.

3 – Choose a contrasting coloured pen to make your corrections. Mark it so that you can see clearly what you’re doing and will understand your marks when you come back to them later.

4 – Go through your document line by line at a slowish pace. Pause at the end of each line. Does it make sense? If you need to read a line multiple times to understand it, it’s an indication that there is something amiss. Make a mark to come back to it later. This is not the time to rewrite that line.

5 – It’s time to target spelling. Don’t rely on a built-in spell checker. For a start it may default to USA English, which has some marked differences to UK English. If a word strikes you as oddly spelt, look it up, using a hard copy or online dictionary. Is it the correct form of the word – ie. Too, to or two? See our other tips section online for help in this area.