How To Proofread

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I prevent mistakes in my work?
  • How do I ensure my writing is clear?
  • How do I make sure I communicate professionally ?

Our guidance on how to proofread a document.

Proofreading is a skill that will improve the quality of your work. It's also a skill which will open doors for you, if you become known for being good at it. Here's how to do it.

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I'm lousy at this.... It

I'm lousy at this.... It didn't jump out.... When I read it backwards I didn't get the is/are problem...  I had to read it forwards... What did I miss?

Text To Speech In Chrome

One of the suggestions I liked in this cast was to have your computer or mobile device convert your text to speech so you could hear what you wrote sounds like.

I found an extension for Google Chrome called Select and Speak that seems to work well for this type of conversion.

Good podcast, a couple of quibbles

Mostly spot on.  I disagree with the grammar checker advice, though.  Yes, Word's grammar checker is wrong occasionally.  However, it's good for highlighting things to check.  My preference is leave it off, but then turn it on for a proofreading check.  Look at where it sees problems and then make an informed decision (possibly checking a style guide or other reference source) on whether to rewrite the sentence, accept Word's suggestion, or ignore the suggestion. 

Quibble 1: Despite what Wendii said, "which" and "that" are not interchangeable.  Not even close.  As one place to consider, listen to or read Briefly, "that" introduces a restrictive clause and "which" introduces a non-restrictive clause.  There is a difference, and Word's grammar checker gets it right most of the time. 

Quibble 2: Strunk and White is a good book, but there are several aspects that are very dated, and a couple that are wrong.  For example, S&W indicates that starting a sentence with "because" is always wrong.  There are numerous cases where a sentence can quite legitimately start with "because".  So, S&W is a good (short) book on the subject, particularly for something that's 50 years old, but don't take it as completely inerrant.  As an extreme critique of S&W, consider

Suggestion: For those on Mac computers, TextExpander does a great job of helping me make sure I get tradenames and other common mistypings correct.  It works across all Mac applications, and the corrections sync to work with many iOS applications if you get TextExpander Touch.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work with Mail on iOS. 

I'm married to an English teacher and my daughter has been a copy editor by profession. So, proofreading and grammar are subjects where I've been fortunate to be helped by a couple of very qualified ladies.