Itâs turned into proofing week here at the Emphasis blog. In this final part, we aim to finish turning you into mistake-spotting machines.
Stocking up on red pens is just the beginning. Follow these tips to ensure you always prove your proofreading prowess.
â˘Â Proofread in the morning if you can â if youâre tired, youâre more likely to miss things.
â˘Â Print documents off to proofread â itâs much more effective than trying to do it onscreen.
â˘Â Proofread at least twice â once for sense, once for technical accuracy.
â˘Â Read backwards for typos so youâre not distracted by the meaning of the words.
â˘Â Use a blank sheet of paper to cover material not yet proofed and point to each word as you go.
Look out for:
â˘Â clusters of mistakes: the elation of spotting one may lead you to miss the one right next to it
â˘Â repetition of words â particularly split over two lines
â˘Â commonly mixed up words, eg there and their, or principle and principal
â˘Â little words â big words draw the eye
â˘Â brackets and speech marks â is the second one in the right place?
Here are a few clarifying pointers â inspired by the challenge â worth raising:
â˘Â Itâs very easy to overlook titles, subtitles and headings, or subject lines in email (particularly as they wonât be spellchecked). Donât! There was a howler in this one.
â˘Â Depending on your companyâs style, you may not need to put a comma after the salutation and sign off in letters and emails. If you do use them, be consistent â ie use them after both
â˘Â âItsâ only needs an apostrophe when itâs short for âit isâ or âit hasâ. When it shows possession, it doesnât have one.
â˘Â If youâre having trouble placing an apostrophe in a less-than-familiar construction (eg each otherâs work), just reverse it like so: the work of each other (not others). So here it needs to go after the r.
â˘Â Youâd only put a full stop â or any other punctuation â inside a bracket if the brackets contain a full sentence. If they contain an aside, the punctuation will be outside. For example:
From now on, letâs make sure that nothing is sent out without first being proofread (this includes email).