A Student’s Guide on How to Proofread Like a Pro

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  • Writing is hard, no doubt about it. Every one of us is faced with some writing tasks during our lives, but when they show up the most, no matter we want them or not, is during our student years.

    What’s even harder, for most of the students, is the proofreading process. In order to finish a piece of writing, you seriously need to take a look at grammar, spelling, punctuation, and few more things. It’s the process in which you finish what you started, without leaving out any mistakes.

    I know, I know, there are some alternatives on the web such as grammar apps, proofreading apps, and so on. To tell you the truth, they’re mostly crap. They can’t get even close to what you can do if you truly decide to proofread your work the right way!

    Another alternative would be to hire a professional proofreader, which costs a lot of money (because proofreaders are damn expensive). If your mommy and daddy aren’t rich and can give you everything, then you’re probably going to have to skip this option too.

    Ok, now, stop for a moment and bear with me. Proofreading isn’t rocket science, it’s just something people don’t really want to look into, so they spread the word that it’s hard. The truth is, if you put just a little effort and do the right things, you can proofread your work like a PRO!

    Pay attention, as you’re about to learn some great insights on how to proofread better.

    Detach Yourself for a While

    You’re probably eager to get it done as fast as possible, but this isn’t the right way to do it. Proofreading is a completely different process, and it often requires a “fresh pair of eyes” in order for it to be done the right way. That means that you’d better leave your work for a few hours, or even days before getting back to it and proofreading it. If you start to edit your work right after you’ve finished, you’ll have a lot of trouble finding the mistakes, and that’s mainly because you’re very subjective about it.

    Start The Process Backwards

    Most of the times you will proofread your writing from top to bottom, because that’s the right way to do it. BUT, there’s another right way, which is from bottom to top. Both of the methods work well, and it helps if you do them both. The main idea here is not to lose focus while proofreading because of the flow brought by the story. It’s easy to lose your patience and skip some words. If you go backwards, you’re forced to analyze everything.

    Use Your Our Loud Voice

    Some sentences sound okay while you’re reciting them in your mind, but when you read them out loud, they’re a total mess. Most of the writers don’t even bother reading out loud, and that’s a mistake. Proofreaders on the other hand, they understand the real value of reading out loud. Do it, and do it slowly. You’ll be amazed to discover many mistakes that you would have probably missed if you didn’t take the time to do it.

    Proofread It More Than Once

    If you really want to do a great job, you must work hard and have a lot of patience. Even though the writing part was tiring, the first proofreading even more tiring, you have to dig for the motivation and energy to do it again and again. The most efficient way of making sure your work is mistake-free and has a good flow is to repeat the proofreading process as many times as possible, until you’re 100% sure that there are no more errors.

    Read Every Word

    When we read something, there are certain patterns, words, sentences that we already seen before. When that happens, we go over those parts quickly, without taking an in-depth look at all the words. When you proofread, try to look at every word in those sentences and never miss any.

    Note Down Common Mistakes You Make

    Sometimes you’ll find yourself doing the same mistake over and over again. The best way to get rid of this is to get a piece of paper, and note down all the errors you make throughout your writings. You can use some great note-taking tools, or just go for your notebook or a simple piece of paper. It helps more than you think, because every time you proofread a text, you’ll pay way more attention to your most common mistakes, and therefore they’ll be much easier to spot and correct.

    Get Some Help from a Trusted Friend

    Your own proofreading is subjective. Even though you may choose to take some time before doing it, checking it over and over again, creating lists of mistakes, and so on, you could still use the help of a friend. Think about it. When you read something a friend of yours or just someone you don’t know wrote…isn’t it easy to detect like almost ALL the mistakes he or she makes? It happens to me all the time, and that’s because I’m not attached to his work, so I can be truly objective. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s no shame. The only thing that can happen is that your work will get even better!

    Conclusion

    I agree that proofreading is not an easy process, especially for us students. We have so many other good things to do, but still, we need to take care of what’s important first. What we write down is the first thing, and probably we’re writing awesome pieces of work.

    But how would Mona Lisa look if there were scratches all around? It’s the same with writing. The more time and attention you give to the proofreading process, the better your final piece of writing will be perceived. Grammar mistakes are annoying and they destroy the quality of the actual content you’re bringing up and the powerful ideas you’re presenting.

    Joan Selby is a an English grammar tutor at Edugeeksclub.com which provides online assistance to students. A writer by day and reader by night. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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