3 Things You Should Do When Speed Proofreading

3 Things You Should Do When Speed Proofreading
Updated on 20 March 2015

We’ve all been there—mortified by the consequences of our own lack of care. Catching typos after you’ve hit send can limit your personal and professional opportunities at worst or be just plain annoying at best. You know that you should proofread but don’t because it requires an English degree (right?) and is time-consuming (right?). Actually, almost anyone can quickly and easily reduce (dare we say eliminate?) post-send mortifications by following these three proofreading tricks.

1. Copy your text into a different editor or change the font. One of the biggest reasons that writing errors make it from draft to sent copy is because your brain is so familiar with the text that it literally auto-corrects the mistakes it sees—making them almost invisible to you. Unfortunately, the longer you work on a text, the more likely this is to happen. Changing the way your text looks helps your brain perceive your writing as something fresh so that it can more easily spot oddities.

2. Read your text backward. If you don’t have time to step away from your writing for a few hours (or, better, a day or more), try this hack. Read the sentences in reverse order. Instead of reading from top to bottom, read bottom to top. This will add novelty to the sentences, making it easier to find errors.

3. Read your text out loud. Even if you’re just whispering away at your desk, reading aloud is a great way to find and spot mistakes, especially missing punctuation or repeated words. As an added bonus, you will likely hear when something doesn’t flow properly or sounds awkward. While not necessarily incorrect, these phrases can be reworded for better clarity.

This is a pared-down version of what we would recommend for more substantial proofreading tasks. However, if you are writing for social media or on a tight timeline, these tips should make a big impact. What is your proofreading process?

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