The essentials of foolproof proofreading

2 min read
First Published: 
Nov 2006

Key Learnings contained in this article:

Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process, focusing on surface errors such as misspellings and mistakes in grammar and punctuation, and should be done only after you’ve completed other editing revisions. Some proofreading pointers:

  • Choose an environment that is quiet and free from distractions;
  • Read the whole document for the ‘big picture’;
  • Scan for visual style, word division and word spacing;
  • Read the document several times;
  • Proofread for only one type of error at a time;
  • Don’t rely on spell or grammar checkers;
  • Read very slowly; read out loud and read one word at a time;
  • Read what is actually on the page, not what you think is there;
  • Re-read, focusing on the types of errors you often make; and
  • Circle each punctuation mark and look at each one separately.

It is rare to find a piece of writing that is completely error-free. Professional editors proofread as many as ten times. Publishing houses hire teams to read in pairs, out loud, and errors can still occur. The important thing is to make the process systematic and focused so that you catch as many errors as possible in the least amount of time.

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