Pain-free Proofreading

It’s easy to produce professional text every time with these simple proofreading tips

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Everyone makes mistakes

We’ve all been there, (it’s normal) but ‘unforced errors’ can have a big impact on how professional you appear. I’m going to show you a few easy tricks to help you minimise errors and fool-proof your proof-reading.

Why Proofread?

Seems like a waste, right? You know you’re not bad at grammar, and you’ve run spellcheck, so surely you should be fine…

  • Spelling and grammatical errors make you look unprofessional and devalues your content
  • Typos can make readers switch off when they break their train of thought

  • Spellcheck misses things. All the time. Plus, spellcheck isn’t smart enough to work out you meant ‘too’, not ‘to’
  • And in a world where first impressions count, you want yours to be sharp, clever and refined


Now you know why, let’s look at how

No one really enjoys proofreading. By the time you’ve finished a document you generally just want to press send and move on, but taking the time to proofread is always a good decision.


So here are a few ways to make it easier:

  • Enlist help – find a willing friend/partner/fellow writer and trade for housework or reciprocal proofreading

  • Wait a while – 15 minutes, an hour, the next morning, a week. If it’s important then try to get some ‘distance’ from the text before reading it again

  • Budget time at the end to proofread – 5% of the time you spent writing will make a big difference and you won’t resent it if it’s routine

  • If it’s really, really important – go slow, read it aloud or print it out (or all three)
  • Always check the numbers – who hasn’t gotten their own phone number wrong? I did it just the other day…


A good trick is to do several passes, each one looking for a different kind of error:

  • Get rid of unnecessary words (see Rob’s tips for keeping it short)

  • Use spellcheck but don’t trust it blindly. Review each suggestion and look through manually for errors
  • Check your grammar if you’re unsure. Try using Google for simple issues and Oxford Dictionaries for reference
  • Once the words are right, and in the right place, check your formatting. Irregular changes in font, font size or spacing can be really noticeable
  • Keep reading until you can read it without changing anything, and once you’re sure it’s perfect do a quick final pass


Make proofreading a habit, it’s worth it.


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