Proofreading an assignment can make the difference between an A and a B. It can demonstrate to an employer your attention to detail and need for perfection. What you may not know is how to go about becoming a successful editor.
Work from a Hard Copy
Reading your work in a different format, to what it was created in, can make a huge difference. If you print it out and read it line by line, you are more likely to catch mistakes. A handy tool to use with a hard copy is to cover the lines above and below the ones you are focusing on with a blank piece of paper. That way your eyes are forced to focus on only the words visible. When we are reading, our peripheral vision tends to zero in on the words around the sentences rather than what we are actually trying to read. Highlighting the mistakes you notice on the hard copy will make it easier to find and correct the changes on a digital copy.
Read the Text Backwards
Reading the text from top to bottom is great for catching major grammatical errors but reading it from bottom to top is even more successful. Because the wording is being read backwards, our minds wont be able to predict future words. Reading normally, you will be able to understand your meaning and even if you miss a word, it may seem to flow smoothly. By reading it backwards, you will be able to focus on each individual word rather than the sentence as a whole. It is also a great method to catch spelling mistakes that may have been overlooked.
Read Out Loud
Reading silently is considerably faster than reading aloud but spelling and grammatical mistakes can be easily overlooked. By saying each individual word, you will be forced to slow down and focus on the word at hand. This method is very successful in regards to sentence structure. When saying the sentence aloud, it is easier to notice wording that doesn’t quite sound right. Sometimes you need a switch from relying on your eyes to relying on your ears. If your work is the basis for a speech, reading out loud can also give you a chance to become more familiar with the diction and connotations you want to associate with each sentence.
The spellcheck tools available on most computers are immensely helpful but they are not infallible. Just because there are no squiggly, colored lines on the page doesn’t mean there are no mistakes. This is especially true regarding contractions and possessive pronouns. Spellcheck may not always register that “your dog” and “you’re dog”, are quite different. The automatic correct tools offered may also not quite understand the words you are meaning to say. For the most part, as long as the word is spelt correctly, it works. It doesn’t matter if you are talking to, two, or too a friend.
Find A Second Pair of Eyes
Having someone else look over your work can be an incredible help. Partnering up with a friend or colleague and switching works will benefit both of you. It will make you focus on minor details, which will carry through to your own proofreading. Simultaneously, your work is reviewed by another person. After reading the work two or three times, you will have memorized a lot of the material and your mind won’t recognize errors. It is important for you to find someone for the job that isn’t afraid to dole out criticism and who will take the task seriously. If they aren’t willing to put in the time, you may find yourself relying on someone who isn’t helping you at all.
After your work is drawn up, there is no reason to not spend some time proofreading. Being penalized for simple mistakes is not worth it and if you don’t recognize small errors others will.