Editing and proofreading are two of the most important stages in any writer’s process. Both involve close, careful reading and can be time-consuming.
A clear, objective mind is essential for effective editing and proofreading. Try to work on your manuscripts in a quiet place without distractions, especially background noise or interruptions that steal your focus.
1. Read Aloud
Reading aloud is one of the best ways to improve your editing and proofreading skills. It forces your eyes to slow down and keeps them focused on each word, which helps you catch errors that your mind alone might not pick up.
It also helps you check for inflections and tense shifts, which are both challenging aspects of writing and editing. It also helps you find problems like misspelled words or omitted words, which may be a big problem for your writing.
Read alouds can be especially beneficial to emergent readers who are still learning how to read. They help them develop important literacy skills and build a love for books.
2. Read It Backwards
In many ways, proofreading backwards is a little odd and a bit out there, but it can help you uncover so much that you missed in your first round of edits. You can also use it to find new ideas in your writing.
To start, read your paper backwards from the end of a long document. This will make it easier for you to focus on each sentence and notice any spelling or grammar mistakes.
Once you’ve done this several times, you should have a good idea of what you usually make. That way, you can concentrate on those mistakes and make sure they’re fixed.
Another proofreading technique that’s helpful is to read a printed copy of your paper. This is less strenuous on your eyes, and it may also allow you to see typographical errors that you wouldn’t catch while reading on a computer or cell phone.
3. Read It Out Loud
Reading your paper aloud can be a great way to identify any errors you might have missed. It will help you notice punctuation problems, such as confounding commas and ending punctuation, and also bigger issues with pacing, like sentences that ramble and take too long.
It can also be a good way to hear whether the tone of your writing is appropriate for your audience. If your text sounds too chatty, or too formal, you might need to change the way you write.
If you don’t have the time to read your paper aloud, there are plenty of proofreading apps available online that can read your paper to you. These apps will not only read the words on your screen, but they will also correct any errors you might have overlooked.
4. Read It to Someone
One of the best ways to find errors in your writing is to read it aloud. Reading it aloud forces your brain to slow down and listen for word choice and grammatical mistakes like run-on sentences and fragments.
It also highlights awkward sentence structures, such as those with a preposition between noun sets. You can use a computer text-to-voice program to do this or recite the sentence out loud and see how much it changes.
To get the most out of your proofreading and editing, set aside a chunk of time and do it in short bursts. It’s tempting to try to cram it all in in one go, but you’re more likely to miss the obvious errors when you do that.