There are many things that change when you transition from school life to big kid life aka the “real world.” Proofreading is not one of them. Errors in your work not only look sloppy, they can also cost you big time. Plus, in the era of autocorrect, it’s more important today than ever to ensure you’re proofing your work.
Whether reviewing your own work or someone else’s, here are a few reminders for careful proofreading.
- Take your time – When proofing, concentration is key to ensure you catch any/all mistakes. Be sure to block off enough uninterrupted time in your schedule and leave enough time in your project timeline for edits. Reading, rereading, making corrections, asking questions – even the smallest proofreading jobs can, and should, take time.
- List it – This one is especially important if you’re looking over someone else’s work. Are there certain words they tend to misspell or grammatical errors they tend to make? Are there proper nouns that should be spelled and punctuated a specific way? Is there a tagline that should always be phrased a certain way? When in doubt, ask about it.
- Triple H – Let’s take it back to 2nd grade for a minute:
- Homonyms: one word with multiple meanings (fair/fair, beat/beat, bear/bear)
- Homophones: words that sound the same, but have different meanings (ate/eight, band/banned, ant/aunt, to/too/two, there/their/they’re)
- Homographs: same spelling, different pronunciations and meanings (bass/bass, close/close, bow/bow)
- Check numbers – The difference between $10,000 and $100,000 is A LOT! The same goes for “million” versus “billion.” So double-check any and all numbers written both alphabetically and numerically.
- Print it – When you’re constantly staring at a screen, your eyes could get strained and exhausted. If this applies to you, printing out your work can make a world of a difference. Plus, you can hand write your edits, usually making them easier to see (especially if you use the ever-dreaded red pen).
- Apostrophes – I blame autocorrect for the rising amount of apostrophe abuse. Your device doesn’t know exactly what you’ll type next so it takes its best guess, which I’ve found to be accurate only about 50% of the time. So double-check (and know the difference) between its’/it’s, Fridays/Friday’s, etc.
If all else fails, pass it on to another set of proof-savvy eyes for review.