Needle in a Haystack: A Guide to Proofread Copies for Foolproof Results
Posted by Carey in Uncategorized on Jul 17, 2009
Are your blog posts always perfect?
No? I thought so too!
Don’t worry we are on the same boat. Every blogger, big or small struggles with typos, mixing homophones and write with less than perfect grammar. Unfortunately, most of us fail to find these little errors and mistakes like the proverbial needle in a haystack.
As a proofreader in the company I work for, I used to struggle with proofreading and editing initially. This doesn’t mean that now my copy is foolproof and without any grammatical errors. No, it simply means that I now have founds ways to work around my weaknesses and can produce foolproof copies.
Looking back I now see at least four reasons why I used to overlook certain grammatical and syntax errors.
I was impatient to finish my work. I used to rush through copies. Instead of reading each and every word in a sentence, for example, I tend to scan the sentence to see if it makes sense. If it does, it was good to go. I realized I developed this minor yet sinful habit from reading too many novels and books. When reading novels one usually runs through sentences and paragraphs because you want to get to the next scene and quickly know the outcome of the plot.
Believe it or not, homophones (similar sounding words) like advice and advise, affect and effect etc are not so easy to detect in a copy. Especially, when you don’t expect them. They do not stand out in the crowd, so to speak.
Similarly, typos of regular words are like a needle in a haystack. You don’t expect these kinds of errors, first of all. Secondly, they are not so obvious and one tends to overlook them.
Sometimes the grammar skills of some writers are simply lacking. What they want to convey to the reader is not so obvious sometimes as they struggle how to put into words what they mean. Some copies are so badly written it would be wise to re-write everything from scratch.
7 Ways to proofread and edit copies for foolproof results
- Read aloud: This is the best way to notice any error, mistake or grammatically ill-fitting words. If it doesn’t sound right, it’s wise to change it. Reading encourages you not to skip even a single word of the copy. Read slowly. Try and make sense of every sentence or phrase, and every single punctuation. By reading, the cohesiveness of the copy will also be tested.
- Take a printout and read: If you have a printer just print out the copy and read it. Go away from your computer and read it somewhere else. A change of place as well as the medium will give you a fresh perspective. Reading from the computer screen is not always the most effective way to proofread and edit copies.
- Take a break: You need breaks. Your eyes need breaks. It’s no coincidence that nearer the end of the day one becomes sloppy. Go out and get a breather. Take a 5-minute break and come back with fresh mind and refreshed eyes. Have a look at your copy or writing, you might even have a second opinion about it!
- Give yourself sufficient time: Rushing to finish a blog post or any kind of writing is bound to have some errors or mistakes. If possible leave your writing for a day untouched and then proofread the next day.
- Run the spell checker: Once you are done reading your copy run the spell checker that comes with your word processor. Running the spell checker will highlight obvious typos, too-long sentences and give suggestions to improve your copy. It will also check the grammar. Don’t rely on the spell checker alone.
- Get someone to proofread and edit: This is in fact practiced in an industry like transcription. A transcriber types out the dictation which is then proofread and edited by a proofreader. What is not so obvious to one may be sounding the alarm bell in another.
- Improve your grammar: This is really the crux of the matter. Simply improving your grammar will improve your writing which needs less editing and proofreading. Thereby resulting in lesser errors in the final text.
Finally, don’t worry too much about imperfect copy and blog post. Write with a passion and mission, then all else is forgiven. Your errors and mistakes prove you’re only human.
Is perfection in blog post even necessary? How do you proofread your writings? Please share your tips for all to improve.