By Brenda Savoie
If you’re a student, you probably dread the moment when you put a full stop to your writing. Then you know it’s time to proofread your work, and after hours or days of working on a piece, it’s the most boring task you could be given.
However, it’s essential no matter how good of a writer you think you are and if you really want to get a good grade. Proofreading not only enables you to fix spelling, grammar and stylistic errors, but to have a look at your own writing and ideas with a rested mind.
If you want to tackle the proofreading game and learn how to do it properly, without wasting time and missing errors, take a look at our short and concise guide. It’s actually quite simple, but all the points combined make a powerful proofreading guide.
1. Give It Time
This might not sound like a great idea, especially if you have a tight deadline with your essay or assignment, which is why you need to make sure to do your writing in time. But, taking a time out, and leaving your writing intact for some time can do wonders for your proofreading. Your brain will get some rest, and you’ll approach the work with a completely fresh and rested mind. Whatever you do, avoid proofreading your work right after you’ve finished it. It doesn’t show great results.
2. Make a ’Mistake List’
Every single student makes mistakes while writing, and that’s a fact. You’re learning and that’s normal. And usually, every student has a unique mistake they make and keep repeating in each new writing. Whether you’re aware of it, or are starting to realize it right now, you shouldn’t ignore it. If you want to make sure it doesn’t slip past you the next time, make your own ’mistake list’. Use it as a guide and a reminder to pay special attention to your usual errors.
3. Read Out Loud
Students often like to read textbooks and notes out loud because they memorize it faster. Read your writing out loud to notice errors more swiftly. It’s something about the sound that makes you focus more on words and phrases and the entire sentiment. It’s easier to spot mistakes that are not that obvious if you’re reading it out loud as if you were explaining the writing to someone else.
4. Triple Check
The key to becoming the ultimate proofreader is to triple check your writing. While double checking may seem like enough, it’s not. Triple check your writing and don’t leave it up to chance. The more you go through it, no matter how much you hate reading it over and over again, the more mistakes you will find, so by the time you’re finished triple checking, your writing will come out spotless.
5. Reverse It
How many times have you missed an error because you didn’t take the time to read your work thoroughly? Get rid of this nasty habit and notice every single error by reading your writing backwards. Start from the bottom and go all the way to the top. That way you’ll spot even the tiniest errors that you couldn’t while you were rushing to read the text top to bottom.
6. Focus on Words
By now, you must be thinking, well of course I will focus on words, but the fact is, most students tend to read what they meant to say by writing and not what’s actually there. Focus on writing and each word, phrase or sentence to see if you put your idea into the correct form. You’d be surprised the things we miss out, or read to ourselves that aren’t even there.
7. Get another Pair of Eyes
Literally. After a couple of times of proofreading the same work, especially the one you have written, it’s hard to spot errors, both grammatical and spelling, as well stylistic ones. If you can have someone else go through the work one more time. They will be able to detect errors that you haven’t even seen, if there are any.
While proofreading might be your worst nightmare sometimes, there’s no great writing without editing and proofreading. It’s not just essential for avoiding critical errors, but also for sprucing up your writing and improving it. With a fresh mind and several read throughs, you’re able to take your original writing and shape and mold it to perfection.
Brenda Savoie is a grammar tutor at Essayontime A private English tutor and desperate dreamer. Writing her first romantic novel. Find her on Twitter and Facebook