Thinking to Write Lesson W6: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

First, you need a little humor, so watch this video:


A Writer’s Work is Never Done

Writing is a process of levels of improvement. (Even after you complete this course, you should push yourself to continue to improve both your reading and writing skills.) As you re-read, you should be thinking of ways to rewrite. Is this argument as strong as it can possibly be? Is there enough support to warrant this claim? Can another example or piece of evidence be provided? Consider the below as you re-read your writing.

Ready to get to work?

Before You Begin…

  • Listen to music or chew gum. Proofing can be boring business and it doesn’t require much critical thinking, though it does require extreme focus and concentration. Anything that can relieve your mind of some of the pressure, while allowing you to still keep focused, is a benefit.
  • Don’t use fluorescent lighting when proofing. The flicker rate is actually slower than standard lighting. Your eyes can’t pick up inconsistencies as easily under fluorescent lighting.
  • Review grammar rules.
  • Read something else between edits. This helps clear your head of what you expect to read and allows you to read what really is on the page.
  • Make a list of things to watch for—a kind of “to do” list—as you edit. This should include a list of your most common writing weaknesses (errors you habitually make).
  • Get yourself into a role: pretend you are someone else reading the paper for the first time.

Read it once.

Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how when reading for content. Does the text answer all the questions you think it should? Highlight the sentences that best answer these questions, just so you can see if the facts flow in logical order.

Read it twice!

Read it out loud and also silently.

Read it again (a third time)!

Point with your finger to read one word at a time.

Read it slowly, and help the computer read it!

Use a spell checker and grammar checker as a first screening, but don’t depend upon theses tools because they make mistakes, too.

Read it backwards to focus on the spelling of words.

Read it with a friend:

Give a copy of the document to another person and keep a copy yourself. Take turns reading it out loud to each other. While one of you reads, the other one follows along to catch any errors and awkward-sounding phrases.

And read it yet again.

Don’t proof for every type of mistake at once—do one proof for spelling, another for missing/additional spaces, consistency of word usage, font sizes, etc..


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