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Proofreading checklist: 10 things to have in mind


Posted May 29, 2020


As difficult as the proofreading process is, having the right strategy makes the process less complicated. Once familiarized with the concept of the written content, it’s time to start checking on potential surface language errors that might be there, such as spelling, punctuation, grammatical, and typing mistakes. What are the following steps?

1. Read paper slow and out loud

As awkward and confusing it might be, it’s highly recommended to take it slow and read sentences aloud. Reading sentences word by word slowly is a key step of proofreading and helps to detect clunky, erroneous English grammar, or spelling sentences. The technique of reading the text out loud is especially helpful when required to spot run-on sentences as well as identifying problems that might have not been identified while reading silently. Finally, it will also help to play the role of the reader and encourages the proofreader to understand the paper as the audience might.

2. Change the look of the document

In order to trick proofreader into thinking, the technique of seeing unfamiliar document appears helpful. Whether you alter the size, spacing, color, style – seeing the different formats of document helps to get a different perspective of what it is written

3. Use a ruler or blank sheet for sentence lines

Old-school techniques such as using a ruler or blank sheet in order to cover up the lines below still benefit professional proofreaders today. As simple as it sounds, this proofreading technique helps from skipping over possible mistakes and deliberately pace oneself while reading the paper.

4. Highlight every punctuation mark

If one tends to misuse or overuse a punctuation mark, such as comma or semi-colon, circling every punctuation mark technique will force to question its purpose in each sentence or paragraph as well as pay closer attention to the paper. Seeking for consistency in the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation of services, products as well as specific terminology is a key to a successful proofreading process.

5. Use the search function

Every author’s writing style is unique and has its own repeated patterns of mistakes, such as overusing specific phrases or using the same qualifier over and over again. Once identified common errors, using the search feature of the document processor can help to discover words or phrases and make a decision whether to remove it or use a synonym.

6. Track frequent errors

Every author makes its own common mistakes. Therefore, it’s important to keep tracking errors that are made commonly such as incorrect word usage or other subject-verb agreement errors. Being introspective about typical errors individualizing the proofreading process to match the weaknesses of the author’s writing will help in proofreading more efficiently.

Here are some common errors that most of the author do that is advisable to look for:

7. Prioritize errors from least to the most important one

Once tracked frequently made mistakes, check separately for each kind of error and move them from the most to the least important ones. Following, work with the technique that works best in order to identify mistakes.

8. Remember to proofread only one kind of error at a time

When identifying and revising too many types of mistakes at once, the effectiveness of the proofreading process becomes at a risk. In order not to lose the focus, it’s highly recommended to proofread one kind of error at a time. In other words, it’s easier to catch punctuation errors if you are not checking spelling and grammar at the same time.

9. Use an automatic grammar spelling checker in the end

A common question in the scientific community – should proofreader use grammar spelling checker? Well, there is no one right answer. While one side supports using grammar spelling checkers, other side advice not to rely on such tools. How come there is no one answer?

Grammar checkers are a useful tool when used right time and in the right way. It‘s not recommended to rely only on these tools at the beginning of the proofreading process. Since this automatic English grammar and spelling checkers have limited ability to catch misspellings that form another valid word, such as homonyms (e.g. „they‘re“, „their“) or certain types (like „he“ for „the“) and has scant dictionary, it‘s not advisable to treat it as a fully reliable tool. Therefore, the spell-checker function is not suitable for carefully reviewing the text spelling errors, if used at the beginning of the proofreading process.

However, it‘s still recommended to use spelling checkers at the end of the proofreading process. After evaluating the paper, automatic tools are used as a final quick check tool which helps to identify easily overlooked mistakes or too-frequent use of the passive voice on a sentence level.

10. Try reading the text backward

Another great option of checking final errors is to read the text from the end. Alternatively to automatic grammar spelling checkers, the backward reading technique helps to pay attention to the separate sentences rather than to the ideas of the paper as a whole. Here, the proofreader task is to see each sentence as a small element of construction and is make sure each element is correct.

Proofreading: do's and don'ts

Some people find proofreading tedious, while others see it as an easy part of writing. As a rewarding part of writing, proofreading can be, it’s important to have a clear rhythm and strategy of how to proofread right.



These tips should be essential when focused on planning the process of proofreading tasks.

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