Submitting material with errors can quickly kill your credibility. However, everyone makes mistakes when writing—even professionals. Proofreading, the final step before a document is emailed, posted or printed, allows us to find and correct those slip-ups.
Proofreading will allow you to present yourself as conscientious, meticulous and dependable. Whether it’s an email to a colleague, a report for your boss or an organization-wide message, proofing is essential.
Here are 10 power proofreading tips that will help you catch and correct spelling errors, grammar faux pas, typos, usage and style issues, and more.
- Don't even think of doing a final proof until a text has been reviewed, revised, and approved by all the necessary parties.
- Create a checklist of errors (grammar, punctuation, misspellings) you're prone to. Keep that list front and center whenever you proof your work.
- Proof each document twice. It's important to proof on paper before doing so on a screen. It's amazing how many issues we don't catch on a first go-round. We "know" what we've set down on the page/screen, but not necessarily what we've typed (or mistyped).
- Put your document aside. Wait a few minutes, hours, or days (if possible) after you've finished writing. Then review it again with fresh eyes. It should be much easier to spot any errors you've missed.
- Read your copy aloud—or have a coworker read it aloud to you. You may hear a mistake you glossed over when reading it on the page.
- Read word-by-word. This forces you to slow down and truly "see" every word and punctuation mark.
- Double-check all facts, figures, and proper names—of people, places, organizations, websites, etc. to assure accuracy.
- Check document formatting. Are type sizes and styles correct? Are pages numbered in the correct order? Do photos, charts, and graphs appear on the appropriate pages, paired with accurate captions?
- Don't depend on spell-check. While it can catch doubled words, misspellings, and some typos, it's far from foolproof.
- If you're unsure about the spelling (or meaning) of a word or point of grammar, check an online dictionary, grammar guide or style guide.
Yes, proofreading takes time. But it’s worth it to make sure every document shines—and so do you!