I was going to entitle this post ‘X number of tips for proofreading’ until it dawned on me.
People don’t want to learn to proofread.
I get it.
I’d run a million miles from that headline myself.
Proofreading is boring when you’ve been writing something all day, or even for an hour or two. You don’t have any inclination to comb through it again. You know what it says. You wrote it.
But we all know how excruciating it is to read an error-riddled piece. I was just chatting to a lady in my local coffee shop who is new-ish to ebooks and she was shocked at the appalling level of editing (or just total lack thereof) that she found.
Now, I know I’m a teensy bit biased, being an ebook editor, but this isn’t a post about how I can magically transform your writing (even though I can if you want).
Proofreading, but a lil’ less arduous
I want to show you the tricks to spice up your proofing and make it a lil’ less arduous.
How so? Read on and see…
1 Take a break
Your tired eyes won’t see a single thing if they’re straining. Sometimes my eyes are pretty bleary by the end of an eight-hour day in front of the screen. The letters start looking fuzzy. Go outside into the fresh air or look out of a window. Anything to get some natural light. Even do some eye exercises and look at things at different distances to help your eyes adjust.
2 Change the text colour
Apparently, the brain is less likely to recognise what you’ve already spent time writing if it’s in a different colour. Might work for ya, who knows.
3 Email it to yourself
When I write something in a Word doc, Google Doc, in WordPress or MailChimp, it’s so familiar to me that I don’t see many of the typos or any other weird things going on.
Quite often, I’ll pop it into an email to myself and pretend it’s from someone else. I always see typos when it’s a piece of writing someone else has done, so reading my words in email form helps my head get into that space.
4 Play a game
It’s a bit lame, I know, but when I have a really long document for a client, I set myself teeny tiny targets to urge me along. I might challenge myself to read up to page 10 by half-past the hour or something. Then reward myself with a little something (usually a sneaky look at a YouTube video I’ve been saving) once I get through a certain amount of reading.
5 (And only if you have to), print it out
Studies vary on the exact reading speed, but are consistently showing a slower reading speed on the screen to on paper. If you want to quicken the process, paper is still the way to go.
Got any tips of your own? Lighten the load for other writers and share in the comments below.
Lauren Tharp says
Great article, Kris! 🙂
I always find that it’s easier to edit/proofread other people’s work rather than my own. Mainly because my brain already knows what my own work is SUPPOSED to look like… So it sometimes “fills in the blanks” for my eyes. Like an optical illusion! :O Whereas, when I’m reading another’s work, I don’t *know* what it’s supposed to look like; therefore, I get a “truer” view of it. Does that make sense? (And does that happen to you??).
Keep up the great work!
For sure. That was why I found it hard to revise for exams at school. When you know the content, rereading it makes it really difficult to take in and your brain definitely goes, “Know this. Yep, know this.”
On the other hand, if I’m reading something for the first time, I find it hard to NOT pick up on things that don’t sit right, style as much as accuracy. Actually quite love this bit!