You may think that your writing process is complete after you have found a topic for your blog post, come up with helpful examples to include in your piece, and organized your work clearly. However, one of the most important steps to writing is proofreading your work.
No matter how helpful your topic is or how organized your points are, you can lose your audience if your writing contains a lot of errors. But when you proofread your work as your final step, you give yourself a second chance to catch errors. Here are some tips for proofreading WritersDomain content.
How Do You Proofread Your Own Work?
Many writers struggle to proofread their own work. Your brain may naturally skip over typos because you knew what you meant to say. While proofreading your own work can be harder than proofreading others’ work, it is not impossible. Implement some of these tips next time you proofread one of your own pieces.
- Read it aloud: You are more likely to catch missing words or punctuation when you read your work aloud. You can hear where you pause when reading, which often indicates the need for some form of punctuation.
- Know your own weaknesses: Every writer has areas that they struggle with — whether that’s structural and organizational issues, like transitions or conclusions, or grammatical errors, like commas and subject-verb agreements. Becoming familiar with your own weaknesses in writing is the best way to know how to better proofread your own work.
- Focus on particular errors: Catching every single error in one reading can be difficult. Instead of trying to catch every mistake in one read-through, focus on particular errors each time you read your work. On the first reading, focus on major errors like missing words, misspellings, typos, and other obvious mistakes. Next, focus on smaller errors like commas and other punctuation mistakes.
- Have a friend read it for you: Another set of eyes looking at your work can be extremely helpful. If you have a trusted friend read your work and offer constructive feedback, this can improve your writing. Your friend can point out mistakes you missed and pinpoint weaknesses that you were not aware of.
Use these tips before you submit your next piece to improve your writing and ensure that your audience can easily read and understand your work.
What Errors Should You Look For?
When proofreading, you should be aware of some common mistakes that even the most experienced writers struggle with. The two categories for writing errors are major, or obvious, errors and minor ones.
At WritersDomain, obvious errors include misspellings, typos, and missing words. These errors are more distracting for your reader than minor errors are. These mistakes are easy to make in a first draft as you type quickly because your brain is often thinking faster than your fingers can type. A spell checker can often catch major errors for you. Reading over your work when you’re finished is another way to catch major errors before you hit submit.
These errors are less obvious than major errors and may not be caught by a spell checker or other proofreading technology. Minor errors include commonly confused words or homophones, such as affect/effect, their/there/they’re, then/than, comprised/composed, etc. You can learn more about some of these words through our Grammar Time posts.
Punctuation mistakes are also considered minor errors. Familiarize yourself with the grammar rules for commas, semi-colons, colons, hyphens, and dashes. Some of them are hard-and-fast grammar rules, while others are style preferences. When it comes to style, an organization’s style guide can give you guidance.
What Tools Can Help With Proofreading?
Technology is a great asset to help you proofread your writing. When paired with strong writing and editing skills, these tools can streamline your proofreading processes.
One popular proofreading tool is Grammarly. This tool catches misspellings, missing words, and punctuation errors, while also offering some suggestions to make your writing more concise.
If you write on Microsoft Word, you can use the system’s built-in spelling and grammar checker. You can also change the settings to check your work for specific things, such as:
- Passive voice
- Split infinitives
- First person usage
- Subject-verb agreement
- Run-on sentences
Use the photos below to find these settings in the Microsoft Office 2013 version of Word to customize this proofreading tool.
You no longer have to be intimidated by proofreading your own writing. Use these tips to polish your writing and ensure that your readers engage with your work. See your writing improve as you learn to better proofread your pieces before submitting them. After some practice, editing your own work will become easier.