Quality proofreading: it’s an essential skill all writers must master. After all, people will judge your writing based on the amount of effort you put into it.
No one wants to make mistakes when writing sentences, but sometimes typos and missing words happen to the best of us.
However, you can’t always expect someone to be around to proofread your work, and spellcheck programs oftentimes deliver inadequate results.
Furthermore, if you’re serious about writing, there is no magical fix-all program; you must build quality proofreading skills to catch advanced tense errors and other inconsistencies within your piece.
Thankfully, you can learn quality proofreading skills if you put the time and effort in.
Here are six ways you can teach yourself how to proofread sentences and grammar.
Read Your Work Out Loud
Reading your work out loud is one of the best ways to proofread your writing. It gives you an opportunity to closely proofread sentences and take a new, refreshed look at what you wrote.
Here’s a few other benefits of proofreading by reading out loud:
- You proofread one sentence at a time. When you read aloud, you’re forcing yourself to slowly consume the sentences that you wrote. This will help you hone in on the grammar, style, and structure.
- You’re actively processing information. Reading out loud makes you more likely to catch grammatical errors because your brain will actively process your words. This gives you a chance to actively read and look at the words.
- Helps you find the paragraph flow. Reading out loud can also help you evaluate the fluency of your paragraphs. If you intend on sharing your writing with others, what you wrote should be easy to comprehend.
As you read, your brain will consistently ask itself if the flow of ideas make sense. After all, a quality proofreader looks for how ideas are structured.
Have Your Computer Read Your Work for You
Another strategy to improve your proofreading is to ask your device to read what you wrote back to you.
Quality proofreading is about finding the mistakes. Sometimes when we read, we gloss over missing words or incorrect tense shifts.
However, a program that reads your work out loud can help you proofread sentences and catch your most common errors.
Here’s a few benefits of having your computer help you proofread:
- You won’t miss anything. Sometimes our brains fill in the blank when mentally reading off a screen, and hearing a computer voice will ensure you don’t accidentally misspell or omit something grammatically crucial.
- You can correct your word choice. Sometimes when you hear a sentence out loud, it sounds awkward. You’ll be able to find and proofread sentences that might sound a little strange.
- It gives you an idea of how others will process the information. Your goal as a writer is to convey information, so you’ll understand how others will view your writing.
Consider enabling the speak function on your Microsoft Word and seeing how reading out loud can help you improve your proofreading.
Work on your projects over multiple days
No matter if you’re writing a book, research paper, or even a blog post, sometimes it’s better to write one day and proofread the next.
Why? You want to look at your writing with fresh eyes. If you proofread the same day you wrote your piece, you might miss critical errors or plot holes.
Here’s some other reasons you should proofread sentences and paragraphs over multiple days:
- You’ll gain a new perspective over time. When we write, the first draft usually isn’t what we want to publish. You’ll come up with more ideas and find new themes you might want to layer upon if you give yourself time.
- You’ll have fresh eyes every day. Your brain may not catch glaring errors after you initially write something down. You’ll be surprised how many tiny changes you will make just by reading your piece the next day!
- Sometimes edits need to be made in parts. If you’re writing a longer novel, sometimes you’ll need to look for things as you read and reread. It’s likely that you won’t catch certain things on a first or even second readthrough.
If you don’t have the luxury of waiting a day, you should give yourself a few hours before finalizing what you wrote.
After all, you want to make sure you are putting forth the best content you possibly can.
If you’re serious about writing professionally or want your skill to be above average, you should actively study grammar.
Grammar is essential to building quality proofreading skills and mastering the English language.
You need to know the rules in order to improve your writing or even break them. Our language is based on a set of guidelines, and you need to know what’s the best way to utilize it.
Here’s some other reasons you should proofread sentences with proper grammar in mind:
- It can strengthen your writing. Understanding how we communicate can help you improve and find the best way to phrase something.
- You don’t want to be inconsistent. Have you ever read a book where the point of view changes? Sometimes this happens unintentionally. Understanding grammar can help you maintain consistency and improve your writing.
- You can learn new things. Understanding tenses and how sentences work can help you build your foundation. This will help you build quality proofreading skills based on English’s best practices.
Get a book and start studying grammar to improve your proofreading and learn how our language works.
If you read your writing and get the sense that you need to vary your vocabulary, use a dictionary.
Dictionaries are invaluable because they can help you discover new ways to proofread your sentences by building your vocabulary.
Here’s some benefits to utilizing dictionaries as you proofread:
- You can easily find new words. You can find many synonyms, antonyms, and other information that will help you improve word choice as you proofread.
- You’ll have a greater understanding of your words. Many online dictionaries include the meanings and histories of each word, so you can easily research as you write.
- It’s always good to double-check. Even if you think you know the meaning of a word, you’ll want to double-check at as your proofread. After all, you don’t want people to laugh at you because you accidentally misspelled something!
The best part about dictionaries is they’re free! That means you don’t have to pay a dime for access to all the information you could ever want about the English language.
Open up Google and do a search to find a dictionary that works for you.
Keep Reading Books, Newspapers, etc.
Your writing is only as good as what you read.
And no, Facebook and Twitter posts don’t count.
The only way you can really get better at proofreading is actively consuming written material. The more books, magazines, blog posts, etc. you read, the more you will internally absorb on how to structure sentences together.
Here’s some other reasons professionally published works can help you learn quality proofreading:
- You learn by reading from the best. You won’t know what good writing is unless you see it
- You can study good plot lines and dialogue. This will help you learn what good writing is and steadily improve.
Sometimes people learn a skill best by observing how the pros do it best. So, happy reading!