Let me start off by saying this: I hate proofreading. It gives me a headache. In fact, I stopped offering proofreading/editing services in my freelance copywriting business a long time ago because it’s just not worth it to me.
However, I have picked up some tips over the years that have made proofing my content a little easier. Let me share some of them with you.
1. Let the copy breathe for at least 24 hours—I’m starting off with this tip because, for me, it’s the most important proofreading tip on this list. See, if you try to proofread something right after you write it, you’ll subconsciously overlook mistakes because you’ve spent so much time around the content. By getting away from the copy for at least 24 hours (a few days is even better), you can come back with a totally fresh eye. You’d be surprised at how many things jump out at you after letting the copy breathe for a while.
2. Get in the proofreading mindset—Before you start proofreading, you need to create the mindset that there are tons of mistakes in the copy. You have to challenge yourself to find as many of them as possible. It’s this mental state that gets your eyes focused on the tiniest details.
3. Read the copy aloud—There is a big difference between scanning over content and reading it aloud. When you make yourself read the copy out loud, your mind won’t automatically fill in and correct mistakes like it tends to do when you quietly scan over it. Any time you notice yourself struggling to get through a part when reading aloud, it probably means there’s a grammar or spelling mistake looming nearby.
4. Use spelling checker (but don’t live by it)—Obviously, you should always run your content through a spelling checker. However, never make the mistake of assuming your spelling checking software will catch all of your mistakes. See, the software is designed to catch misspelled words not misused words. But even still, a spelling check is always a good idea.
5. Have someone else take a look—Proofreading is all about having a fresh eye. Once you’ve given proofreading your copy your best shot, hand it over to a friend or co-worker. Let them know that they are only looking for spelling, grammar, and clarity mistakes—not editorial opinion.
Once you’ve followed these tips, you should have caught all the mistakes in your copy. If not, don’t worry…some smart$*& internet geek will be more than happy to call you out on any mistakes (just joking…kind of).
What proofreading tricks do you use? Tell me about them in the replies.