Five fast tips to successful proofreading

February 2, 2015

You know that feeling when you finally finish your latest written masterpiece to be read by a million or more readers on the web? Accomplishment. Pride. Pop open the bubbly. Weight off your shoulders kind of thing. As a writer, there’s nothing better. Don’t you think?

 

Until your whole world crashes down. Along with your reputation. When someone points out, not so subtly, the glaring, careless typo.

 

It can happen to anyone. Even professional business copywriters.

 

And it’s a disaster. A nightmare. Sleep depriving stuff. No matter the size. It can be anything from a teeny, tiny mistake, to an embarrassing ‘paper bag over your head’ humiliation.

 

Whatever it is, that sick feeling ravages your stomach. Followed by that well-worn question: “How the ^%#* did I miss that?” "Really easily” is the sad, but true reply.

 

After all, we’re only human. No one’s superhuman. Although we’d all like to be.

 

Let’s get this straight. Again. The more time you spend writing, the more familiar you are with your subject and what you want to say. So, your brain reads what should be written not what’s actually there.

 

To save your bacon and your reputation, you need the five fast tips to successful proofreading.

 

Five fast tips to successful proofreading

 

Clever business copywriters, budding writers, marketers and anyone clever who finds themself with a writing task don’t ever face this problem. Why? Not because they’re superhuman. Because they're smart. And they’re smart because they do one or all of five simple things:

 

1. Do nothing. Yep. For 24 hours. Even if your deadline’s looming. And it always is. Leave your copy for a whole day. Walk away. Do something different. Don’t think about it. At. All. Then come back. You’ll be amazed at what you find. Jaw-dropping stuff, actually.

 

2. Print it out. Always. This is non-negotiable. Believe me. I learned the hard way. The number of errors you'll find when you read a hard copy is mind-blowing.  Never. Proofread. On. Screen. Ever.  

 

3. Read it out loud. To your dog, your cat, your computer or the wall. It works. The words jump off the page – loudly – at you. You’ll notice if anything sounds wrong or stupid. And whether the flow is good, or needs improving. And who doesn’t want to improve? Google Translate is even fab – and fun – for this task if you don’t want to listen to your own voice. 

 

4. Read your copy backwards. That’s right. From the end to the beginning. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? That’s ‘cause it is. But, strangely enough, it works. It tricks your brain. So you’re not sure what should come next. That’s a good thing when you’re proofreading. BUT. Only do this after you’ve checked the flow of your words.

 

5. Get professional proofreading help. If you’ve written something well, you’ll be sick to death of it by the time you finish. That’s ok. Normal, even. But, a disaster for finding sneaky errors. It’s amazing what a second, and fresh, pair of eager eyes always finds. I’m talking professional proofreading eyes. They’re worth every cent you spend. And, they’re worth the peace of mind you’ll enjoy knowing with confidence that your work is 100% good to go.

 

Don’t spend the rest of your life with a paper bag on your head. Your face and your writing deserve better. Just follow these tips. They’re simple, smart and effective. And they’ll put you on the right path to proofreading success.

 

 

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