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How To Proofread Like A Professional: 5 Tips

By Joan Selby

As a writer, proofreading your work is one of the most grueling tasks. Most writers (perhaps even the majority of writers) don’t like doing it. Even so, it is a vital part of the entire writing process because this helps you improve your work’s overall result. During this process, you start looking for any grammatical mistakes, spelling or punctuation mistakes. You make sure that you transmit your ideas logically and in a well-defined manner.

Due to recent advances in technology, writers are inclined to use the grammar-checking software. It can ease the entire process, that’s for sure, it can’t be compared to a human proofreader and editor. This kind of software should be used as a complement to the human proofreader, not a replacement.

If you want to skip the proofreading process, you can always hire a professional editor from various services such as BestEssays. This can bring great results, but keep in mind that this can make a great dent in your budget. If you are on a low budget, the only alternative you have is to do it yourself. Of course, proofreading and editing your work objectively can be a very daunting task. To ease this process here is a list of tips to keep in mind when proofreading your work.

1. Put it on a shelf and leave it there for a few days

Some writers start proofreading their work as soon they’ve finished it. This is one of the greatest mistakes you can make. Why? Because you will have a subjective approach towards your work. Before you start proofreading and editing your work, take a break from it. You should do that for at least a few hours, but if your deadline allows you, the break should be at least 1 or 2 days. During this time you will forget most details of your work and you will be able to have a more objective approach towards the writing.

2. Read your work aloud

The great majority of writers tend to undertake the proofreading process in a quiet way. Reading your work aloud can drastically improve the way you spot the mistakes in your sentences and paragraphs. Hearing the words will allow you a unique and fresh way to find hidden flaws in your work. If you have more complicated or intricate paragraphs or sentences it is best to read them out loud.

[Check out this great article by Terry Odell for a great tip on using Microsoft WORD to listen to your manuscript]

3. Read your work at least twice

Even if you might hate the idea, the best way of creating a flawless end result is by going through your work at least twice. You can start the second proofreading session by reading backward. Do this by starting with the last paragraph and moving backwards through it, sentence by sentence. This is an effective method because you won’t get distracted by your work’s natural flow. You will be able to focus solely on the sentences or paragraphs in front of you on their own, thus you’ll be more attentive to any potential flaws that you might miss when reading it in a natural narrative flow.

4. Keep a record of your most frequent mistakes

During the writing, editing and proofreading process, you likely found some patterns in your work and some mistakes you tend to make repeatedly. If you want to ease your proofreading process, create a list of those mistakes and try to look for them in your future projects. Apart from being a very helpful tool, the first step you need to take when solving a problem is to acknowledge it. That’s what you do by writing it down.

5. Ask for outside help

Even though you get detached from your work for a few hours or days before proofreading your work, you still have a dash of subjectivity. To eliminate it entirely, proofread your work at least twice. When you think that the editing process is done and you’re looking at the final result, ask a friend for a bit of help. Ask someone you trust to read your work and check for any mistakes. If the feedback is positive, you know that your project is finally done.

In conclusion, proofreading and editing your work can be a very daunting task. Even so, if you want to create one-of-a-kind work, you need to go through this process. First, you should detach yourself from your work for some time, then you should start reading it out loud. Once this is done, edit your mistakes and read your work once again. The final step of the process will be done by a close friend or a colleague because you need an opinion from the outside. By keeping in mind these tips, you won’t have any trouble in creating an outstanding work as a writer.


Joan Selby is a former ESL teacher and a content marketer. She also runs her own blog about social media and writing tips. Joan is a Creative Writing graduate and fancy shoe lover. A writer by day and reader by night, giving creative touch to everything. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

See other helpful articles by Joan Selby on the KWL Blog by clicking here.

8 Responses to “How To Proofread Like A Professional: 5 Tips”

  1. Kelee Morris

    Great post. Hearing your manuscript read out loud is especially helpful. I just wish I could fine a more user-friendly way to do that.

  2. Richard Murray

    For me, the problem in proofreading derive from my own writing style. I do grammatically arguable actions in my writing, intentionally. I like proofreading from prior activities but the modern accepted rules I don’t want to be applied.
    great post.

  3. lynnefisher

    Great post, very reassuring- I’m on the right track, because I’ve done all of these, including number 4, keeping a record of one’s own tendencies for next time around!

  4. typely

    Out of pure interest I copied your article and placed it into my application ( typely(.)com ) which is a proofreader to see what it reports. Out of 811 words it only reported a single issue (repeated 3 times) which is really nice.

    I agree with the fact that “software should be used as a complement to the human proofreader, not a replacement”.

    Since you’re a writer I would really appreciate your feedback. Maybe you like the tool and integrate it into your writing stack. Immense efforts have been put into keeping the amount of false positives to a minimum.


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