Thursday, March 7, 2013

Proofread your work, and give your reader a break

Here are some tips from Anna Lewis, founder of, an online publishing community offering self-publishing:

1. Put your writing aside for a while. This allows you to see it again with fresh eyes that are more likely to spot errors.

2. Look at your weaknesses. Do you regularly misspell or repeat words? Do you make particular grammar or punctuation errors? If you are aware of these weaknesses, take extra care to search and spot them.

3. Read your work out loud. If you read aloud, your ear might catch errors that your eyes may have missed. Alternatively, you can use text-to-speech software.

4. Try proofreading backwards! To spot typographical errors, read your work from the end to the beginning, either word by word, sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph. This disconnects your mind from the content and helps you focus on the text. Particularly useful for checking the cover.

5. Keep style and usage handbooks readily available and use them! The Guardian Style Guide is a good choice.

6. Watch out for those pesky contractions, apostrophes, and homonyms.

7. Run the spell check to catch any obvious errors. However, don't rely on this alone as it can't always be completely accurate.

8. Highlight all punctuation marks so that you can evaluate each one for accuracy.

9. Proofread a printed version of your work. People read differently on screen and on paper, so print out a copy of your writing for another read.

10. Get someone else to proofread it. A fresh pair of eyes is a great way to spot errors.

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