Remember when we shuffled our desks in groups of three or four during elementary school? We used the red pencil to apply our newly acquired proofreading skills to our classmate’s paper. We marked their paper with symbols for missing capitalization, commas, paragraphs, and misspelled words. I hated seeing those red marks on my paper.
Through regular practice and relearning how to apply and develop the skills in college, I improved on them. Although we now have tools at our disposal, it’s still necessary as a writer to find these errors in our daily tasks before we send out blog posts, query letters, essays, or short stories.
I have included some suggestions to put in your proofreading toolbox. I know that many of us aren’t paid or paid well for the work we produce, yet we do it for the love of creating. There are companies you can work through, but why not take the initiative to do the work yourself free of charge.
Homonyms, also known as homophones, occasionally come across my radar. Print out your work and highlight the homonyms. These words sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. There’s no need to worry about homographs (words that sound and look the same but have a different meaning (i.e., rose, fall, duck, saw, park). Those shouldn’t pose as much of a threat in your writing as homonyms.
Try reading your text backward. Did you try reading my sentence backward? It makes your mind focus on each word individually rather than the entire sentence. You’re not looking at sentence structure. That comes later when you’re editing.
Ask Someone to Read Your Work
Peer reviews play an essential role in proofreading. Don’t think of it in a negative light. It’s a way to see your writing from a different perspective, making you a better writer.
How many times have we gone over a sentence with “should of,” but after peer review, discovered when corrected, needed to say, “should have”? It’s a mistake I made while attending BYU, and it is a reminder of the importance of having someone else read your work.
If you have done everything in your power to find your proofreading errors, you can try using some of these online tools to check your work. I have included a screenshot of the thoroughness of each program. I used the first paragraph of this post as an example. Disclaimer: I’m not paid for these reviews. They are based on my preferences.
I’ve been using Grammarly for years. The free and paid version checks for basic proofreading mistakes (i.e., grammar, spelling, punctuation) and clarity, delivery, and engagement. Adding it as an extension in Chrome, allows you to see your errors across social platforms, e-mail, Word, and Google Docs. You’ll have to upgrade to Premium if you want to suggestions on clarity and plagiarism. They charge an annual fee of $144, which breaks down to $20 per month.
It is available online for free and offers the downloaded version for $19.99. What’s the benefit? You can also download the program to use off-line for $19.99. I would consider using this program and paying for the online version since there is no reoccurring payment that it offers.
The free plan allows you to check for the basic proofreading mistakes (i.e., grammar, spelling, punctuation), but you will have to pay $11 each month for other features like clarity, plagiarism, and delivery.
Give each of them a try and see which one works for your specific needs. Remember, you don’t have to apply all suggestions. Not everything they say is necessary to make your work sound the best.
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I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing the knowledge. If you have your own suggestions on proofreading help, please leave me a comment.