Top Posts of 2011: Five Proofreading Techniques Every Talented Writer Should Know

As a service and holiday treat to our readership, Publetariat will be re-printing the top posts of 2011 between now and the end of the year. We begin with this guest post from Randall Davidson, which originally appeared on Publetariat on 6/1/11. It was the most popular post on Publetariat for all of 2011, and has received a total of 13,898 pageviews since it first appeared.

Professional proofreaders use a number of proofreading techniques in order to produce the most polished and error-free results for their clients. These methods allow them to maintain their concentration on the material while ensuring that it is thoroughly checked for mistakes and necessary corrections. By adopting these proofreading techniques, authors and small business owners can improve the quality of their written communications.

 

  1. Double check. Most professional proofreaders check each project at least twice in order to ensure that no mistakes have been overlooked during the first pass. This can also help proofreaders to detect errors that may have been caused during the correction process itself, offering additional protection against mistakes at every stage of the proofreading process.
     
  2. Take a break. One of the most underrated proofreading techniques is also one of the most obvious; taking a break during the proofreading process can be exceptionally helpful in maintaining the necessary focus on the task. By stepping away from the project for a few minutes, proofreaders can often achieve a better perspective on the work both as a whole and in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation. This can allow them to detect errors more efficiently and effectively.
     
  3. Look it up. A number of online proofreading resources are available to proofreaders in need of spelling clarification or grammatical help. Google can be useful in cases in which a word has been misspelled in a way that makes it difficult to identify. A dictionary is another obvious source of spelling information. By looking up any words that appear questionable or unfamiliar, proofreaders can ensure that the finished work is of the highest possible quality.
     
  4. Divide and conquer. Splitting the proofreading process into various stages can help keep the process fresh and the proofreader alert. Spell checking typically constitutes one phase, with grammar, style and punctuation each comprising one of the other three stages of the process. The same effect can be achieved by a multi-tier approach; by approaching the material first word-by-word, then by the sentence, then by the paragraph and finally in sections, the proofreader can achieve optimal results. This strict method of ensuring repeated viewings of the same material can provide surprisingly effective proofreading results.
     
  5. Call for backup. Even professional proofreaders consult with each other on long and complex projects. Small business owners and individuals can achieve the same results by enlisting the help of a professional proofreading firm.  These professionals can often identify mistakes that might otherwise go uncorrected, creating a final document that presents the information in the most professional manner possible.

Randall Davidson is a co-founder of ProofreadingServices.Us, a rapidly growing professional proofreading services company committed to providing others with the tools necessary to produce polished documents. He does this both through the informative articles he writes and through the high quality online proofreading services that ProofreadingServices.Us provides.

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