Everything you write, whether it is an email or blog post, a letter or proposal, is a reflection of you. Documents that are sloppy and have a lot of errors in them can damage your credibility and you may not be taken seriously. Ergo, here are some techniques to use when proofreading your documents to make sure everything you write comes across looking polished and professional.
1. Wait 24 hours before proofreading.
If you can’t wait that long, give yourself at least an hour. If you don’t even have an hour, give yourself at least a few minutes. The longer you wait before proofreading the more objective you will be and better able to spot more errors.
2. Read the text aloud.
Reading a text out loud helps you to slow down and to focus on each word. By doing this, you will be able to listen for sentence correctness. Reading aloud also forces you to read numbers digit by digit.
3. Proofread with a partner.
Print out two copies of the document. While one person reads the document aloud, the other person follows along listening and looking for errors.
4. Use a straight edge.
Using a ruler or another straight edge below each line you are reading helps you avoid skipping words or lines of text. It also helps you to spot any spacing issues in your document.
5. Double space or change the formatting of document in draft form.
If you change the spacing of your text into double space it will be easier to read for mistakes. Another option is to enlarge the font type or size. You can fix spacing and the larger font later in the final version.
6. Read the document backwards.
Read the document from right to left or from the bottom of the page to top of the page. This forces you to look at individual words and enables you to see spelling mistakes easier.
7. Finally, check alignment of document.
Hold document at arm’s length, turn it upside down and/or use a straight edge at margins to make sure the alignment is even and correct.
Of course, the best way to proofread is to have someone else proofread your text for you. As an objective observer, she will find more mistakes and possibly offer some constructive criticism about your overall writing; however, that option is sometimes impossible or impractical. Therefore, these suggestions can be used as a convenient substitute for when there is no one to proofread your work for you.
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