No one wants to make mistakes when writing sentences, but sometimes typos and missing words happen to the best of us. People will have a hard time taking you seriously if your writing consistently contains spelling and punctuation errors.
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 your own editing skills to catch advanced tense errors and other inconsistencies within your piece.
Thankfully, you can improve your proofreading skills if you put the time and effort in. Here are six ways you can teach yourself to become a better proofreader.
Read Your Work Aloud
Reading your work aloud is one of the best ways I’ve found to proofread my own work. When you read aloud, you’re forcing yourself to slowly consume the sentences that you wrote. You will be more likely to catch grammatical errors because your brain will actively process your words.
Reading aloud 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.
Have Your Computer Read Your Work for You
Another strategy to proofreading your own work is to ask your device to read what you wrote back to you. This will let you judge the flow of your work and help you catch your most common errors. Furthermore, 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.
Work on your projects over multiple days
If you are preparing a report, research paper, e-mail, or even a blog post, sometimes it is better to write one day and proofread the next. Your brain may not catch glaring errors after you initially write something down. If possible, give your brain a day to refresh and come back to your writing. You’ll be surprised how many tiny changes you will make just by reading your piece the next day!
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. It’s important to know the structure of the English language because that is the basis of all communication. They say you should know the rules before you can break them, so pick up a book or read a blog about sentence structure.
If you read your writing and get the sense that you need to vary your vocabulary, use a dictionary. You can find many synonyms, antonyms, and other information that will help you improve word choice.
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.
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. Sometimes people learn a skill best by observing how the pros do it best. So, happy reading!