Strategies to Proofread Effectively

Print the text

Having a printed copy will allow you to read and follow along with your finger, word by word so that you are focused and deliberate.

Read the text out loud

Print out a copy of your story and read it aloud, touching every word with a pen or pencil to catch those mistakes that you might miss with a cursory review. Reading the text aloud will slow your pace so you can hear words that sound awkward, unnecessary, or outright wrong.

Read the text backward

When you read normally, your eyes see what the brain expects, and it’s easy to miss your mistakes. When you read backward, your brain won’t know what to expect, and it will see the words as they truly are.

Mark the text

Mark places that don’t sound right but don’t fix them immediately, which is a different stage in the editing process.

Change the text

Revisit the places you marked and fix each problem, one by one.

Use grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection software

The free versions of Grammarly, Ginger Software, and Language Tool are excellent, with the first two offering more features with paid subscriptions.

Ask someone you trust or pay a professional to proofread your text

If writing is not a strong point for you or if English is not your native language this step is critical. You can find freelance editing professionals on Upwork or Fiverr to check your writing.

Do not multitask when editing

You can’t find all the spelling and grammar errors in just one editing pass. Prioritize the list of errors you are looking for and then work down the list.


What Mistakes to Look For

There are hundreds of English grammar rules. Instead of checking for all possible mistakes, create a manageable list of mistakes to check for in your writing based on your common mistakes. Look for each item one at a time.

Here is a list of common writing mistakes:

    1. Misused words
    2. Spelling mistakes and typos
    3. Verb tense mistakes
    4. Subject-verb agreement mistakes
    5. Preposition mistakes
    6. Article mistakes
    7. Missing commas in compound sentences
    8. Inconsistency with style elements like the Oxford comma
    9. Capitalization mistakes, especially with names and titles


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