In order to present your written work in the best possible light, it is important to ensure that you (or, better still, a professional editor) carefully proofread the document. If you want to improve the quality of your writing, it is vital that you review each piece to check for typos, spelling mistakes, context, and tone.
These editing and proofreading tips will help you produce better writing – work that is polished and professional but still inspired and compelling.
Spot your typos
Nobody likes typos. They look like misspellings, though it’s usually obvious they are simply an oversight; the result of tapping the wrong key. Typos can be prevented when writers proofread their work before submitting or publishing it. Most writers are going to miss a typo every now and then; nobody’s perfect. However, when typos appear regularly in a writer’s work, it’s a sure sign of poor or non-existent proofreading.
Read out aloud
One of the best ways to edit and proofread your work is to read it out aloud. If you enunciate every word, you’ll be better able to identify mistakes. It’s common for writers to leave words out while composing a first draft. During a review, the mind automatically inserts those words because the author knows they’re supposed to be there. Reading out aloud will help catch missing words. It’s also helpful to determine whether a piece lacks clarity or if the phrasing doesn’t sound quite right. By reading your written work aloud, you can confirm that everything makes sense and that the language flows smoothly.
Check accuracy of spelling, grammar and punctuation
Always check your spelling and word usage in any written document. The spell-check function in your word processing software is helpful but has its limitations. Keep firmly in mind many of the words it will not pick up, such as using ‘their’ when it should be ‘there’, ‘it’s’ in place of ‘its’, and ‘affect’ instead of ‘effect’.
If you are serious about doing most of your own proofreading and copy editing, it is crucial for you to consult dictionaries (such as The Macquarie dictionary) for spelling and style guides (like the Style manual for authors, editors and printers) for grammar and punctuation.