Whether you’re creating a blog post, Facebook post, Tweet, or email blast, typos can happen to the best of us. However, it’s nearly impossible for someone to accurately proofread their own writing and be consistently successful. (We’re big on peer proofreading on our team.)


Luckily, whether it’s your own work or someone else’s, I have a few quick tips to make your next experience with proofreading quick and (mostly) painless!


Proofread a Physical Copy

I’ve found that I tend to miss errors more often when I’m proofreading on a computer screen. Printing out a copy and using a pen to mark errors makes me much more tuned in to what I’m doing.


Read Backwards

This is an excellent way to catch misspelled and missing words. When you’re reading normally, it’s common to skip right over a missing “the” or “at”, or a word which accidentally has two letters inverted, because your brain knows what the sentence is meant to read. Start with the last sentence and work your way in reverse order to the beginning.


Read Out Loud

Reading out loud is perhaps the best way to catch stylistic or structural errors with accuracy. Your ear can more accurately tell if you have a run-on sentence or sentence fragment. It’s especially helpful for making sure the formality is consistent throughout the piece.


Remove Distractions

If I’m trying to proofread somewhere that people are talking, there’s loud music blaring, or a TV is on, I’m much more likely to miss some errors. Grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary are three things that require laser focus to check, so going someplace quiet is a must.


Use Google

I use Google all the time when I’m proofreading – my grammar knowledge isn’t perfect, and I don’t pretend it is. Don’t hesitate to look up something you’re unsure about – not only will your editing be accurate, but you’ll learn something new as well!


Understand Comma Usage

The comma: So tiny, but big enough to make or break your writing! When I’m reading other people’s writing I am very perceptive to incorrect comma use, but when I’m writing something myself I tend to be very in-my-own-head and just write what I’m thinking. Brushing up on your comma knowledge is wise, no matter your profession or how often you proofread. Two sources I think are great for explaining comma usage and typical comma errors can be found here and here. (Side note: The Oxford Comma always wins in my book!)


Typos are certainly undesirable, and can get you in a lot of trouble in some situations. However, even if you do your very best to catch them, human error is inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up too badly if you miss something. If anyone has other proofreading tips, please post them in the comment section below. I can always use more proofreading tips, and I’m sure everyone else would appreciate it too!

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  • Sharon Stanton

    Great list here. It’s also important to allow sufficient time for proofreading. It takes longer than you think it will to QC effectively.

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