15 Proofreading Tips


by: Shannon Hames

As a help to my readers, I scoured the internet and collected tips for proofreading to help editors and students alike.  Here are my best finds:

  1. Read it out loud and also silently.
  2. Use a spell checker and grammar checker as a first screening, but don’t depend on them.
  3. Have others read it.
  4. Read it slowly.
  5. Read it for certain types of problems, then re-read it for others.  For example, your first read through might be to check for spelling errors, the second for usage errors, the third for factual errors, etc,.
  6. Use a screen (a blank sheet of paper to cover the material not yet proofed).
  7. Point with your finger to read one word at a time.
  8. If you are editing within Word, use the “track changes” function to make your comments visible to other reviewers
  9. Print it out and read it.
  10. Read down columns in a table, even if you’re supposed to read across the table to use the information. Columns may be easier to deal with than rows.
  11. Buddy proof! Give a copy of the document to another person and keep a copy yourself. Take turns reading it out loud to each other. While one of you reads, the other one follows along to catch any errors and awkward-sounding phrases. This method also works well when proofing numbers and codes.
  12. Double check fonts that are unusual (italic, bold, or otherwise different).
  13. Double check proper names.
  14. Closely review page numbers and other footer/header material for accuracy and correct order.
  15. Concentrate!  Read it slowly and with purpose, like you are on a treasure hunt!