Proofreading 101

You will inevitably write a number of documents throughout your college career in and out of the Fraternity. It is imperative that you make certain that those documents are accurate and easy for the reader to understand. Therefore, make sure you proofread! Here are 20 tips to help you with your proofreading.

  1. Use the spell checker. Don’t rely on it, but use it as the first step. Remember it will only check correct spelling, not usage.
  2. Take care to read type in very tiny font. Mistakes are easy to miss.
  3. It’s an idea to give a copy of the document to someone else and keep a copy for yourself. While one of you reads the text out loud, the other one should follow the text to catch any errors and phrases that sound awkward. This works especially well when you have to proof numbers and codes.
  4. Headings are prone to errors. Therefore, you should first proof the body of the text. Then go back and proof the headings.
  5. Take care that you don’t skip from one obvious error to the next, missing subtle errors in between.
  6. Double check even if you’re sure something is correct. Do not assume (you know that well-known adage about "assuming")!! If you have to check on particular names, e.g. cities or suburbs; oil/gas wells; universities etc; find the name on the Internet to make sure it’s absolutely correct.
  7. I use the "track changes" function in Microsoft Word, as well as highlighting words, to mark my corrections and to add comments. Try it yourself.
  8. If you keep a list of your most common mistakes, you can do a "find" in the document you’re proofing to look for those particular ones.
  9. Don’t try to correct on the screen. Print it out, take it away from the computer and correct the hard copy.
  10. Use a ruler or a piece of paper under the line you’re checking. That will help you concentrate on the words better.
  11. Point at the words, one by one, as you go along the line of text. Saying the word out loud as you point at it also helps.
  12. If there are columns of numbers, or a table on the page, check the numbers down the columns rather than across. I’ve found that it’s easier that way.
  13. Correct it by proofing backwards. Read each word from last to first to check spelling. That way you won’t miss a word because you got carried away by your own message!
  14. Check the font sizes. If you have an article with different headings, make sure they all match up throughout. Make sure that the words that are in italics, bold or underlined are consistent throughout the text.
  15. Read the passage out loud. Remember, you have written it to take an idea from your head to someone else’s. Test it! Use small pauses where you have a comma, larger ones where you have a period. See if it sounds right. We’re not necessarily talking about schoolroom-perfect punctuation here (well, mostly – sometimes it’s critical). Remember the only purpose of punctuation is to help get that message to the other person. Reading out loud will also help you spot missing or doubled words.
  16. Never correct your work immediately after you have written it.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License

SSL configuration warning

This site has been configured to use only SSL (HTTPS) secure connection. SSL is available only for Pro+ premium accounts.

If you are the master administrator of this site, please either upgrade your account to enable secure access. You can also disable SSL access in the Site Manager for this site.