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What Is Proofreading?

Updated on September 30, 2022Writing Tips

Written communication is used in every part of your day. Whether you’re writing an essay for school, writing a formal report for work, or writing a message or email online, it’s important to reread the text to ensure it’s written accurately and clearly.

This is where proofreading comes in. Learn how proofreading your work for writing mistakes can help you avoid confusion and miscommunication in your message.  

Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing shines? Grammarly can check your spelling and save you from grammar and punctuation mistakes. It even proofreads your text, so your work is extra polished wherever you write.

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What is proofreading?

The word “proofreading” came from the traditional publishing industry. Before digital publishing gained popularity, publishers would print an early copy of a text (the “proof”). A final review of the proof was performed by a proofreader who’s responsible for catching any grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors or inconsistencies.

Although the text or manuscript might’ve gone through top editing, line editing, and copy editing, some errors can still get missed in these early review stages. Proofreading, however, is the last opportunity to correct any errors that might’ve slipped past before it’s published. 

Proofreading tips

Since proofreading is such an important step in the writing process, it helps to know a few ways to improve your proofreading skills. One or all of the following tips can help you catch mistakes before your document is submitted:

  • Stepping away from your work. After spending a lot of time writing and rereading the same text, it’s easy for your brain to fill in missing words in a sentence for you or for your eyes to glaze over grammatical details.
  • Read the text out loud. This strategy helps you spot confusing points or jarring structure. It also helps you identify awkward or abrupt sentences.
  • Print out the document. Getting your eyes away from a computer screen and onto a physical page can help you find errors that fell through the cracks.

These are just a few ways to develop your proofreading skills on your own. You can try one approach or a combination of them to see what’s most effective for you. 

Proofreading vs. editing

Although proofreading is a part of the editing process, editing involves a few key differences. Editors who reviewed the document before a proofreader are often focused on other elements of the text. 

For example, a top editor might review the document to ensure the ideas and arguments are effective or rework sentences and sections so the entire document flows cohesively. And although a copy editor is responsible for fixing grammatical and spelling errors, they also focus on keeping a publication’s style preference consistent throughout. 

In addition to correcting errors that might’ve slipped past previous editing steps, proofreading ensures that other pre-publication factors, like page formatting, line spacing, and typography are accurate.

Using a proofreading service

Practicing the proofreading techniques shared above can help you minimize the mistakes on your document before submitting it. Although self-proofing is a skill all writers should practice, using a professional service like Grammarly’s add-on proofreading service can offer extra assurance that your final text is mistake-free.

You can choose to have a Grammarly proofreader review your document for correctness, like fixing grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax. Another proofreading service option is having an expert proofreader review the text for correctness and clarity. For this selection, Grammarly’s proofreader will check for all areas of correctness above, but also ensure that the text is concise and understandable.

To submit a Grammarly proofreading request, click on “Get Expert Writing Help” in the Grammarly Editor, or order this service through Grammarly for Microsoft Office. 

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