6 Tips To Become An Expert Proofreader

As a student, you are expected to review your own writing for errors of text or art. This should be done before the final copy is submitted. Proofreading is something you should never overlook or even take lightly. It is a skill many say they don’t have; but it is a skill you can acquire if you really want. Here are some tips you can use to help you become an expert at proofreading your own writing.


Image: “Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor” by Vilhelm Hammershoi (source).

6 Tips to become an expert proofreader

1. Acknowledge your weaknesses.

Now, you know yourself; you know your shortcomings. You know the type of mistakes you are more likely to make in your writing. So you should know what to look for. If you tend to forget the commas, full stops, or mistakenly spell certain words, you should look out for these things.

2. Proofreading is not just about misspelled words.

You can get a lot of help from MS Word spell checker to help you correct misspelled words. Howerver, it would not be so helpful in correcting poorly structured sentences and phrases, repetitions, and text that does not quite flow logically. You should also note that some discretiion is neeeded using MS Word spell checker. MS Word spell checker gives you options for spelling a word, and so woould not consider the context of the word in the sentence. Remember, MS word spell check would not always catch the misspelled word, especially when it is a homophone, such as bear and bare; eye and I, or your and you’re.

3. Take a break.

It is common knowledge that you would not really find much as much errors in your writing as you would if you don’t take a break to relax your eyes. It is also necessary to take a break so your subconscious would not play tricks on you. Your tired eyes would not recognize the two “ds” or the missing word. Sometimes the mind plays a little trick on you, so you would read a word that should be there in the writing, and in fact it may not be there. One way to avoid this is by taking a break from your writing.  When you return to your paper your mind would be relaxed and prepared to read the entire document thoroughly. This brings me to the next point.

4. Read the document slowly.

You should not speed read your writing. Slow down and read out loud! You will come across more errors that way. You will find sentences that sound strange or sentences repeated within a paragraph. Note, you will have to read the document several times to find all the possible errors.

5. Ask for help.

This is another way to get an unbiased view of your writing. A friend would be able to show you where ideas are not so clearly expressed. It is also easier for your friend to find error that your proofreading would not find.