I was driving back from the store the other day when I noticed something. When thereâ€™s a police officer on the road, people slow down; they drive the speed limit; they use their turn signals; they pay attention.
Then I thoughtâ€”wouldnâ€™t it be nice if writers did the same thing?
If there were â€œProofreading Policeâ€? standing over our shoulders watching as we write, I bet we would slow down and actually proofread our work before publishing it online.
So many writers rush through their work and never proofread it (or simply proofread sloppily). Everywhere I look on the Webâ€”in articles linked to from Twitter, in blog posts, on websites, and in e-zinesâ€”there are typos, repeated words, and even missing words.
Now donâ€™t get me wrongâ€”mistakes happen. But when your content is proofread properly, very few mistakes end up in the final piece. It seems as if some writers are so eager to hit that â€œpublishâ€? button they donâ€™t think to do some proofreading first.
So when it comes time to proofread your writing, pretend the â€œProofreading Policeâ€? are watching over your shoulder so you canâ€™t skip the proofreading process. If you do, youâ€™ll get a hefty fine.
Youâ€™ll have no choice but to:
- Run Spell Checkâ€”It comes with word processing programs for a reason: use it!
- Read Through Your Writingâ€”Read through word-by-word to check for missing words, grammar, punctuation, etc.
- Read Your Writing Aloudâ€”Read your work aloud so you can hear how it sounds. Watch for places that are clunky or where you run out of breathâ€”this probably means you need to reword something or break the line up into a couple sentences.
- Have Someone Else Read Your Writingâ€”Send your writing to a friend to read, or ask your significant other or the person sitting in the cube next to you to read what youâ€™ve written before you publish it or send it off. A second pair of eyes can catch things that youâ€™ll likely read over.
Obviously there will be times when you need to get something out there as soon as possible and going through this entire process wonâ€™t be possible. But at the very least, use spell check and read through your work a couple times looking for errors. Trust me, your readers will notice.
Now go proofread your workâ€¦.or the â€œProofreading Policeâ€? will get you.