Learn to proofread your own text
It can be difficult to see your own spelling mistakes, not least when you’ve been sitting with a text for a long time and perhaps changed both structure and content many times. Long days in front of a screen can make you both mentally tired and blind to your own text.
Occasional language errors or omitted words might not have a significant impact on the readability of your text, but such linguistic mistakes can greatly affect how professional or credible you appear. Therefore, it’s a good idea to always set some time aside for a thorough proofreading at the end of your writing process.
Make a plan
Decide in advance what the proofreading should result in. Are you simply looking to find mistyped keys and omitted words or you do also need to find grammatical ambiguities and oddly placed commas? Is it even the case that you hope the proofreading will result in a clearer thread in your text or that it will resolve problems with the disposition? It’s a question of very different read throughs that take different amounts of time, and it’s completely unreasonable to count on being able to do everything simultaneously. So make a clear plan for what you’re looking to get from your proofreading and set aside an appropriate amount of time.
It’s often said that we become blind to our own texts. This means that we don’t really see the text for what it is but instead for what we believe it to be. Of course it’s difficult to find mistakes in your own text when you already know what it contains, so it’s important to try to change perspective. An excellent tip on this topic is to let the text rest: put it away for a couple of hours or even better, if there is time, for a few days so that you have time to forget your exact wordings. Afterward, when you return to the text, you’ll notice how much easier it is to look at your text with a distance and to find mistakes and ambiguities. If you don’t have the time to let the text rest, another tip is to print your text out. You often get a better overview of the text if it’s printed. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can try to change the fonting in order to trick the eye a little bit.
Find out what the text sounds like
Always make sure to read your text out loud before you hand it in. Either read it out loud to yourself, or even better, to someone else. When you’re silently reading a text, you tend to hurry past problematic passages or not really read the entire text. Reading out loud, on the other hand, requires attention to detail and for you to engage with it. One alternative is to let someone else read the text out loud for you while you highlight passages where you think that your reader is “reading incorrectly” or is stumbling on words. It’s perfectly fine to do this over the phone or over a video call if you don’t have any available people at home.