If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started writing professionally, it’s the importance of proofreading.
Staring at any piece of writing for more than a couple of hours definitely does things to your brain and I think we’re all guilty of reading what we thought we’d written instead of what we actually have at some point or another. It’s just not exactly ideal when writing is what you do for a living. That’s why I’ve come up with a pretty extensive proofreading routine to combat it.
Hopefully these tips are ones that you can incorporate into your editing process too.
If writing is a big part of your job, it’s kind of essential that you have a good grasp of the English language and the grammatical rules that go with it. It doesn’t hurt to check though. Despite being an irritating advert that pops up between YouTube videos, Grammarly does a pretty good job at just that. Whether you’ve used the wrong ‘your’ or got your ‘which’s and ‘that’s the wrong way round, it’ll point it out.
A word of warning though, it is a bit over the top at times. It seems to want to put commas after every second word and overuse the hyphen A LOT. Take some of its advice with a pinch of salt.
Visit Hemmingway Editor
Like Grammarly, the Hemmingway App is designed to correct the writing basics. It’s much more about sentence structure though and that’s why it’s been a game changer for me. I’m so very guilty of writing overly long sentences that read well in my head but that leave a regular person gasping for air (a bit like this one) and that’s exactly why I need it. It highlights complicated sentences as well as other handy things you probably hadn’t thought about like the use of the passive voice.
Listen to it
This is by far my favourite tip. Highlighting your work, right clicking and having it read aloud by Siri is invaluable. Not only is it hilarious to listen to its pronunciation, it thinks my name is Mackenzie Lion for example, it also stumbles on any spelling mistakes or misplaced punctuation you might have missed.
There’s something about seeing a piece of writing on paper that makes the mistakes so much easier to spot. I don’t know if it’s the glow of the screen that my eyes don’t appreciate or the fact that I’m just a print lover at heart but I always print a piece of work before submitting it to make sure it’s word perfect. A bigger font tends to help too.
An extra pair of eyes
An outside perspective can be super helpful and for this one, I’d recommend a real person, not the one that lives inside your laptop. It doesn’t have to be from someone who knows about writing though. I’d say the opposite is probably more helpful in fact. If you want a regular, non-writing expert to be able to read your work, who better to test it out on than a regular, non-writing expert?
Step away from the screen
Taking a break can be a huge help. It might be painful for those writers who like to start and finish a piece in the same sitting but that just doesn’t work for me. Getting away from my desk for at least a few hours is a must in my book. You’ll be surprised at what your tired, square eyes have missed.
Do you have any tips and tricks for proofreading?