Proofreading what you write is not easy. Proofreading is not editing. Proofreading is not reading for meaning. Proofreading is focusing on the mechanics, not the content. The goal of proofreading is to find and correct blatant errors (see Exhibit 1).
The correct way to proofread is to look at every character, every letter, number, and punctuation mark, one line at a time.
You should estimate proofreading 4 to 8 pages an hour maximum, depending on the complexity of the content. Keep track of estimated and actual time so you can better estimate proofreading time in the future.
Exhibit 2 contains tips to help you improve your proofreading skills.
Exhibit 3 contains a list of proofreading, writing, and editing resources,
Before you read and do the process you must have these prerequisites nearby:
Now, in a nutshell, do this:
If you make a last minute change to a few words while proofreading, be sure to check the entire sentence and related content. Never change just one word without verifying it fits with the accompanying text.
Never accept the results from the spell checker, grammar checker, and so on, always verify. Spell checkers and grammar checkers are of limited value. Is the spell checker dictionary the same dictionary used by your company? There is a good chance that not all technical terms are in the spell checker and how current is that dictionary? Your style guide might deviate from standard spelling and grammar in the Chicago Manual of Style.
Exhibit 1: What To Check For When You Proofread
Check for legal issues first:
Check these items for technical accuracy:
Now check for these errors:
Exhibit 2: How To Improve Your Proofreading Skills
Scan a page down the middle of the text using peripheral vision to capture a sufficient amount of text to grasp the meaning.
Let your eyes follow a pattern of the letter x, s, or the number 8, whichever works best for you. The idea is to see all the letters on the page in a glance. Weird letter combinations stand out. If your eyes stop at something, check it.
Exhibit 3: Proofreading, Editing, and Writing Resources