What is Proofreading?
Proofreading is said to be the lingual process of writing, reading, editing, and reviewing the final draft of any written piece to recheck the internal structure, literary consistency, and syntactical accuracy, involving the correct use of spellings, appropriate punctuations, and correct formatting.
The art and science of proofreading in all types of communication, especially verbal and written, is important as it provides a certain degree of readability and gives the writing a nuanced, structured touch.
What are the best proofreading techniques?
- Re-read after a break –
The best thing you can do while undertaking proofreading is refreshing yourself. After the final document is complete, take some time, clear the head. Getting out of the writer’s headspace is extremely important to get into a proofreader’s mindset.
You can get a cup of tea or coffee to relax, and start reading the document from a fresh perspective.
- Read the document out aloud –
One of the topmost proofreading techniques is reading the document aloud. While reading, grammatical errors tend to stand out. It can be difficult to follow or focus every line of a page. However, once you start reading it aloud, your brain will automatically start providing you with grammatical and syntactical information. You can identify most of the common errors by merely listening to the words and see whether they feel right or not.
- Edit the excessive content –
Once the writing is complete, you might find some unnecessary content in writing. If the point has been supported with enough evidence and examples, check if the rest of the information or data is really relevant or required. This technique will ensure precision and brevity, in addition to making the document welcoming to read. Since proofreading aims at making the content easily readable, editing the excess information out of the document will have huge benefits in terms of ease of access to the receiver.
- Avoid the technical mumbo-jumbo –
We tend to use a lot of words, terms, definitions, and specific sets of statements in any specific field of study. When Proofreading, one has to make sure that the document in question is simple and readable by any person. This step encourages you to use clean and crisp language. If and when you use specific terms, make sure to provide a clear definition in simple words.
- Consider the flow of writing –
Ensure the flow of writing by revisiting the initial thoughts and discussions that went into the document. Define your readers, i.e., target audience, match the pace and flow of writing to their level of perceived understanding of the subject matter. Simplify if and when necessary, especially because simplification is one of the most important writing skills.
- Check the facts –
The primary reason for undertaking proofreading practices is rooted in the reality and accuracy of the content. With a fresh perspective, one can fact-check the document over again to make sure that the data provided is correct and up to mark. When it comes to certain data points, graphs, numbers, or errors in the names, terms, or copyrighted or trademarked material, making mistakes can have catastrophic impact on the organization.
- Pay attention to the numbers and figures –
Numbers can seem tricky. When the document includes tables and charts filled with statistical data, it is best to double-check the numbers for accuracy. Paying extra attention to decimal points and zeros is undoubtedly one of the most important practices in proofreading. It’s a really fruitful exercise, especially when undertaking assignments like memos, meeting minutes, or report writing.
- Pay attention to the sentence structures –
Sentence correction and structure revision are very important. Re-read the sentences and paragraphs, while looking for ways to make them precise, crisp, and easy to understand. This practice involves checking the tenses, identifying the clauses, and correcting the sentences according to the need for active or passive voice.
- Use the free software –
Check out some free software for proofreading such as Grammarly. While crafting a document in MS Word, you can take the help of Microsoft’s Spelling and Grammar tool. The internet is also a great source for information regarding the content if you have doubts about structuring, writing patterns, narratives, or correct uses of words and their exact meaning.
- Consult with a friend or a co-worker –
After all, one of the most important proofreading practices is to get a valid second opinion. A fresh perspective will always help underline errors that you might have overlooked.