I was driving back from the store the other day when I noticed something. When there’s a police officer on the road, people slow down; they drive the speed limit; they use their turn signals; they pay attention.
Then I thought—wouldn’t it be nice if writers did the same thing?
If there were “Proofreading Police” standing over our shoulders watching as we write, I bet we would slow down and actually proofread our work before publishing it online.
So many writers rush through their work and never proofread it (or simply proofread sloppily). Everywhere I look on the Web—in articles linked to from Twitter, in blog posts, on websites, and in e-zines—there are typos, repeated words, and even missing words.
Now don’t get me wrong—mistakes happen. But when your content is proofread properly, very few mistakes end up in the final piece. It seems as if some writers are so eager to hit that “publish” button they don’t think to do some proofreading first.
So when it comes time to proofread your writing, pretend the “Proofreading Police” are watching over your shoulder so you can’t skip the proofreading process. If you do, you’ll get a hefty fine.
You’ll have no choice but to:
- Run Spell Check—It comes with word processing programs for a reason: use it!
- Read Through Your Writing—Read through word-by-word to check for missing words, grammar, punctuation, etc.
- Read Your Writing Aloud—Read your work aloud so you can hear how it sounds. Watch for places that are clunky or where you run out of breath—this probably means you need to reword something or break the line up into a couple sentences.
- Have Someone Else Read Your Writing—Send your writing to a friend to read, or ask your significant other or the person sitting in the cube next to you to read what you’ve written before you publish it or send it off. A second pair of eyes can catch things that you’ll likely read over.
Obviously there will be times when you need to get something out there as soon as possible and going through this entire process won’t be possible. But at the very least, use spell check and read through your work a couple times looking for errors. Trust me, your readers will notice.
Now go proofread your work….or the “Proofreading Police” will get you.