Best Proofreading Practices - Ignorance Is Never A Bliss Here

Proofreaders, in a way, are the first critics who apply the red ink on the works of any writer. That probably invited an exceedingly unkind comment from the great Mark Twain. The comment attributed to him goes like this, "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made proofreaders." The very same proofreaders were probably there to proofread and correct the above quote too!

A professional proofreader ensures the typographic and the grammatical hygiene of the textual content. His focus is on the language, i.e., sweeping clean of the spelling errors and grammatical missteps from the documents. Proof reading is different from editing as an editor's chief concern is ideas and their development.

This article is too short to go into many of the fine points of proofreading in detail. It will, nonetheless try to highlight some of the best practices here as under.

It is not advisable to attempt to proofread your own work, since the mind can play tricks on you as it may read only what you intended to write and not what you did finally. The end result is that you will miss the typos and grammar slips, if not all, a few at any rate. Further, there is a vocational malady also, that is, the writers without many exceptions think that their creations are perfect. Hence, you will never have the heart to amend even a coma from your work. That is what happened to Oscar Wilde, the famed Irish writer-poet of the 19th century. He said, "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." However, many a time you would be forced by the circumstances to do your own proofreading. The following tips come handy in such situations.

  • Do not begin proofreading immediately after writing a document.
  • Do not depend solely on the spelling and grammar software as they are capable of misguiding you when you expect it least.
  • Check each word starting from the last word of the document. Thus you can concentrate on the spelling rather than getting distracted by the meaning of the sentence.
  • Use "track changes" option in your word processing software, even for proof reading.
  • Do not assume spelling. When in doubt, refer.
  • It is good to proofread for different types of mistakes separately.
  • If you are using the monitor screen for proofreading, then take a visual break after every page.

Always remember proofreading as the 100% critical revision and you are not supposed to miss even one error. Note that in this profession, there are no minor or major mistakes; only mistakes and they are supposed to be corrected before seen by another person.



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