Proofreading-the little bit of sparkle that adds magic to a publication. Too extra of a definition? I don’t think so. Proofreading is easily one of the most important stages in publishing before a book/publication goes live. As a proofreader, it is important to be concerned about content and as an author, it is important that what you send out to your audience is nothing short of a crisp, well-done piece of a polished manuscript.
With present-day writers, they usually cash in on proofreading in order to avoid being too concerned about their content. Some see this as being too extreme (being too concerned about your content, or even too little concerned). In terms of extremities, a writer can end up having second thoughts on what their capabilities are or they end up obsessing over the drafts and even postpone publishing until it is deemed “perfect”.
Finding a publisher who can proofread your manuscript will endure that your content is carefully reviewed from top to bottom as they eliminate all the goofs. This makes it easier to freely release the publication to the world with full confidence. Now, let’s dive into some simple proofreading hacks that can be used by publishers or by individuals. These hacks can help to quickly catch and avoid errors, publishing content confidently.
Using a pen to read through a hard copy, point at each word as you read slowly in order to point out any errors. Most proofreaders use a red pen as they underline, circle, and note down comments or suggest better words to be used in the text they are editing.
Place a ruler under the text as you read. Please note that the ruler shouldn’t be transparent to help you focus on the text. Using a ruler is an easy way to help your eyes have a manageable amount of the text on paper.
Pause at every punctuation mark. You can stop at each punctuation mark, for example, if commas are your most common problem, go through the paper checking just that one problem. Afterwards, you can go through the rest of the paper looking for the next more frequent problems. For your readers to grasp your message seamlessly, you need to check out every little detail. Here are some examples of punctuation mistakes that change the meaning of the text;
- “Slow children crossing” should be “slow, children crossing.”
- “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” and “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
- “No, U turn” should be, “No U turn”
Read out loud or use text-to-speech software. Reading out loud at least once can help you hear how words actually sound, especially with punctuation. Software in Microsoft word that translates text into speech can aid you in listening as well. With reading out loud, you can either do it alone or use a buddy system. The buddy system is where you have the “live copy” and the “dead copy”. One person reads the dead copy word by word including numbers and all punctuation marks while the other person goes through the “live copy” to see whether the copy is correct. It is a slower method of proofreading, however, it helps to be certain about what is in the text.
Increase the font size on the computer. If you are reading through a soft copy version, increasing the font size from font 12 to font 24 can help you to see the text more clearly. You can easily see whether there are letters mixed up for example with the words excellent and excellemt*. The letter ‘m’ can be easily missed when the text uses font 11 and has minimal spacing.
Try reading the text backwards (from bottom to top). This can help you to focus on the sentences and perhaps see which sentences, words or phrases you may be overusing. If you are actually overusing some, you can fine-tune the text and make the words read better. This method can also help you clarify paragraphs and at the same time, shorten sentences.
Remember to also check the first word in each of your paragraphs. This helps to refine and diversify terminology to a more sophisticated degree. Make your writing more dynamic and explore your creativity especially if most of your paragraphs begin with the same word(s).