10 Tips for Effective Proofreading
Posted by Adrian Davis on
You’ve been working hard, toiling away in front of the computer for hours, possibly days, not coming up for fresh air or a cup of tea. You’ve almost forgotten what the sky looks like because you’ve been working so hard. When the hard work is over, all you need to do is send the file to the printer, sit back and relax while waiting for the finished product to be delivered, right? Not quite, there’s one major step to take before you send off that file. It’s time to proofread. Proofreading is one of the most overlooked and most important areas of the design process. All that hard work you put into the design process could be for nothing if there is a typo on the front page of your booklet, or an incorrect telephone number on your business card.
Whilst there isn’t a foolproof formula for faultless proofreading, by using our 10 tips we’ll help you see (or hear) the errors before anybody else does.
1) Put the kettle on and have a cuppa
Now you’ve finished, set your work aside for an hour or two. If you have the time, take a whole day. At least sit down, have a well deserved cup of tea, and watch some Jeremy Kyle (guilty pleasure). Then start proofreading it with fresh eyes. You're more likely to see what you've actually written after a break.
2) Search for one type of problem at a time
After reading through the text the first time, go back through checking sentence structure, then for typos, and finally punctuation.
3) Double check facts, figures, and names
Now that you have checked that the text reads correctly and is free of any spelling and grammatical mistakes, go back through to double check any facts and figures you may have quoted.
4) Use a hard copy
In the age of tablets, mobile and laptops, it’s easy to check a proof on screen. Try printing out a copy and review it line by line. Reviewing it in a different format, without the distraction of other things going on around the screen, may help you spot errors that you have previously missed.
5) Try reading it out loud
We may not all have a voice like Brian Blessed, however, try reading it out loud to a friend or co-worker. One of you may hear a problem (missing word or homophones) that you hadn’t spotted while internally reading it to yourself.
6) Use a spellchecker
Spellchecker can be a powerful tool for catching repeated words, reversed letters, and many other common typos.
7) But don’t rely on it
Your spellchecker will only tell you if a word is a word, not necessarily if it's the correct word. For example, you may have been writing about the ‘Prince of Wales’, however, the spellchecker may think ‘Prince of Whales’ is fine. Both are correct, spelling wise!
8) Try reading your text backwards
Automated spellcheckers, just like people, aren't infallible. Try reading the text backwards from right to left. This technique will help you focus on the individual words, not the sentences.
9) Create a checklist of your own common mistakes
Try making a list of regular mistakes that you are aware that you tend to make. This will speed up part of the proof reading process.
10) Ask for help
Once you’ve gone through your work using the techniques above, ask somebody else to review your work. A new set of eyes might spot errors that you have overlooked.
Saxon Print always provides you with a proof before we start the printing process. Please be aware that while we will review files submitted, we are looking for any technical problems concerned with the printing process, not checking the text content. If we spot something we will let you know, however, checking the proof properly is very important to ensure that you are happy with the final product. Once approved to print, we cannot always stop the process, so please remember to proofread your design before you send the file to us, and most importantly check the final proof we send you. Then you really can sit back and put your feet up knowing you've got a great print job on the way!
(Can you spot our proofreading oversight?)
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