Finally! You’ve finished an amazing 1,000-word article that you’re incredibly proud of. You conducted comprehensive research, and it’s one of your most informative works. You’re feeling pretty confident and just want to send it off to your editor. But first, you need to do one of the most daunting tasks for any content writer: proofread your own work. At clovio, we have excellent native editors who polish our writers’ work to publish impeccable content. However, our content writers are responsible for proofreading their own work before submitting it for a final edit. This process not only saves some of our editors’ time, but it also helps our writers to check they’ve included all the necessary information in the article and find common mistakes. Self-editing is challenging, though. Since our brain already knows the content, it’s easy to skip words (and even full sentences) without noticing. Here we compiled nine tips to help you carefully proofread your work:
1. Use Grammar Checker Software
Before getting into the specific tips to improve your proofreading, let’s discuss grammar checker software. Of course, Microsoft Word is one of the most used text editors in the world and comes with a reliable spell checker. Unfortunately, it only looks for spelling mistakes and basic grammar errors, but there are more thorough pieces of software out there. For example, Grammarly points out repetitive words, poorly-constructed phrases, missing words, and more. Suppose you write ‘How proofread’: Grammarly will automatically ask you if you meant ‘How to proofread’.
2. Start With the Bigger Picture
Now that most of your spelling mistakes are corrected, it’s time to focus on the more important stuff. You should always start with the bigger picture – it doesn’t make sense to correct specific words when you might need to rephrase a paragraph altogether. Go over your article and check whether the message is delivered correctly. Did you provide all the necessary information? Is the article well-structured and does it flow well? These are just some of the questions you should bear in mind at this stage.
3. Read the Text Out Loud, Slowly
A common practice among content writers and editors is to read the text out loud. When you just read the article in your mind, it’s easier to gloss over mistakes, as your brain naturally fills in the gaps. By reading the text out loud you can find errors (such as missing words) more easily. On top of that, it helps you find sentences that require improvement, as difficult-to-read phrases will usually need revision.
4. Don’t Proofread Right Away
It’s enticing to proofread an article immediately after writing it. This is the final stage of the process and you want to get started with your next task, after all. However, that’s not what we recommend. By proofreading your work right away, you’ll still remember most of the content and be more prone to miss mistakes. It’s far better to come back a few hours (or even a day) later.
5. Follow a Style Guide
Writing has many nuances and although there are various ways to write something correctly, you want to make sure your articles are consistent. So, it’s important to either create a style guide or follow standard guidelines, such as AP or MLA. This guarantees consistent spelling, capitalization, and formatting.
6. Watch Out for Double Spacing
After you’ve written and rewritten your article a few times, it’s easy to make rookie mistakes like leaving double spaces. The quickest way to correct this is by searching for double spacing, which you can do by using the shortcut Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F) and pressing the space key twice. Regardless of whether you’re using Word or a browser-based spell checker, the platform will highlight any double spaces so you can correct them effortlessly.
7. Eliminate Distractions While Proofreading
Proofreading is a job that needs complete focus so you want to make sure you eliminate all distractions. This means putting your phone on silent mode, closing your inbox, and going to a quiet place where your coworkers (or kids if you work from home) can’t bother you. If that’s not possible, plug in your earphones and listen to some music.
8. Keep a Checklist of Elements To Review
There are a lot of elements to review when self-editing: grammar, spelling mistakes, punctuation, wordiness, etc. And it’s more productive to examine one element at a time rather than trying to edit everything in just one go. However, it can be challenging to keep track of everything you need to pay close attention to. By having a checklist at hand, you’ll make sure you won’t skip any important steps.
9. Take Advantage of Proofreading To Improve Your Writing
While proofreading your own work might not be much fun, it’s the perfect time to find your common mistakes and learn from them. You can even create a list with your most repeated errors to remind you where you need to be more cautious when writing your next piece. This will also help decrease the time of your reviewing process in the future.