Quick tips for effective proofreading

3 August 2015
 August 3, 2015

If you are in business, you can’t escape writing! Email has become amongst the most common of ways in which people interconnect, especially when working and communicating across geographies and time zones. Communication is literally at your fingertips. There are numerous tips to composing an effective email (check out our previous post: A Few Pointers for Writing Professional Business Emails), amongst the most important being to look over your work. As Jarod Kintz said: “There are two types of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t.” Puns aside, revising your own emails can make all the difference as the smallest of mistakes, from a misplaced period to an omitted word, can really give off the wrong impression.

There is no perfect formula for proofreading—a little blunder is bound to appear. Even the most experienced of writers and editors make mistakes! These simple and quick proofreading tips should help you catch your errors before anyone else does.

  1. Take a Break: Set your email aside after you finish composing. Rest for a few minutes and come back to it with fresh eyes. Rather than recite what you think is on screen, you’re able to see what you’ve actually written. If the text is long (think of the environment), consider printing it out. Reading off-screen is always a better option.
  2. Use a Spellchecker: In addition to checking for spelling, these programs can also help catch repeated words, reversed lettering, and many other small and common errors that the fallible human eye may overlook. Just remember that spellchecks are not foolproof!
  3. Dictionaries are your Friend: A spellchecker might help you determine if a word is in fact a word, but it won’t help you determine if it is the right Dictionaries are important for usage. How else are you going to know if we bear our souls or bare are soles.
  4. Fact Check: Make sure the information in your text is accurate. In addition to checking for spelling, usage and grammar mistakes, double-check facts, figures and proper names.
  5. Read your Text Out Loud: Or ask a friend or colleague to. You may hear a problem that your eye didn’t catch, like a faulty verb tense or a missing word. Reading aloud also helps determine if tone, flow and punctuation are adequate.
  6. Read your text backward: Another way to catch mistakes is to begin proofing your email from the end, from right to left. This allows you to focus on individual words and not whole sentences or meaning.
  7. Make your own Checklist: Make a list of your common mistakes and your own process. Do you constantly write your instead of you’re (you are)? Do you look for spelling mistakes before checking for flow? Do you sometimes forget to edit for grammar? Jot it down! The most successful editors are constantly creating their own reference lists to come back because editing is a constant process.
  8. Ask for Help: Have someone else look over your email after your have finished your own review. A new set of eyes will be able to spot errors you overlooked and can no longer see. If the text is important and significant, you may even consider hiring a professional editor, like us here at Rollin’pen. We are always ready to help make your text the best it can be.