4 Tips & Tricks For Proofreading Your Own Writing

If you're a writer, whether it's a copywriter for a company, or an author, you know how important it is to proofread your work before publication. One small error can distract your reader from the objective of the writing; if it's for information it makes the reader lack trust in the company, and if it's a novel-reader they'll be distracted from the plot by the mistake. I know I am when I'm reading for leisure.

So, I thought I'd compile a list of things you can do as a writer to help you when proofreading your own work.

This is an important one. When a proofreader reads your content, they will highlight common errors that you seem to make regularly. Do you usually spell a certain word wrong? Or are you prone to missing out a capital letter or a full stop? If you learn your own habits, it's easier to focus on looking for these when you're reading back through your writing. Learn from your previous mistakes, it will only improve your writing going forwards. I promise.

You need to have a break before you go back to proofread your writing. Our brains get tired and a bit of distance from your work will do you the world of good when you're proofreading. When you come back to proofread, make sure you're not half-asleep. You need to be alert and ready to take on the challenge. If you work better in the morning after a coffee, try it then. If you're more of a night-owl who prefers to work when everyone is asleep, then utilise that time. Everybody works differently. I personally work better in the morning, as after a day doing mum things I'm normally exhausted come 7pm.

Another thing to note is your surroundings when you're proofreading. Do you work better when it's silent? Then make sure there are no distractions; turn your phone on silent, turn off the TV and sit somewhere you can fully concentrate. If you prefer to work with background noise, find a great playlist that isn't too distracting that can play-along in the background whilst you work.

This one really does work. When I'm proofreading I regularly read things out loud if I'm unsure whether to add a comma or other punctuation. Sometimes I can read a full paragraph that has no commas at all, and feel like I'm dying from lack of oxygen by the end of it. Reading it out loud really helps you with sentence structure, as you can feel and hear when a pause/comma is needed. It may also help improve your word choices, as you may think it sounds great in your head, but saying it aloud may make you reconsider your syntax choice.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting some help. It's what I'm trained to do. You could read something over and over and over again and not see a simple error, because your brain doesn't want you to see it, or is too tired to spot it. A trained proofreader doesn't just skim over the word, we look at each individual character & space. A copyedit can also help with rephrasing where needed to help with the flow and consistency of the piece.

If you've read and re-read your writing, and want to make sure there aren't any glaring mistakes, then please get in touch and I will most definitely be able to help.

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