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10 Proofreading Tips To Keep Your Sanity

Is your client cringing due to you missing an error you were meant to proofread? Does your revision sound much worse than the original writing, giving you the feeling you should just bow down and cry into a pile of tears? Face it, proofreading may be a tough grind at times, yet it is always an interesting challenge at hand. Here are a few things to keep in mind – and by “things,” I mean ten things. Five just seems, amateurish.

Number One: Excessiveness in Wordplay

So you’re there, reading over the paper you were assigned to edit, and you notice some word being used over and over again. As an editor myself, this could really tick me off, let alone you, as well. For this, mark each repeated word with a number, so that by the end of reading the article, you have tallied up the times it has been used. If it is three or less, it shouldn’t be too big a deal. If it appears to be four or more – dear goodness and donuts! Either omit the repeated words and revise some of the writing, or use rather a synonym for a replacement.

Number Two: Didn’t I Read This Somewhere Before?

Oh plagiarism, nasty plagiarism. Some writers, or maybe a ton, can’t find the ability to scribble original work, so they turn to copying someone’s work and claiming it as their own. Cowards! There are quite a few websites out there that are apt to determine whether or not the work is a copycat or a fresh, new piece of writing. Plus, even if it does sound similar, pay close attention to the writer’s style – which leads us to the next point.

Number Three: Stylizing Differences

Yes, everyone has their own unique style, yay. But is the author using consistency in his/her writing? It could be the focus on character concentration, specific word choices within sentences, or biased decisions on unfair topics, such as debating that a banana is juicier than an apple (see what I did there?). Always make sure that the author is utilizing his or her own vision and trying not to seem inspired by another author. If the unfortunate occurs, the criticism will not only be directed to the writer, but you as well. In fact, criticism is everywhere.

Number Four: Stick With the Topic

If the magazine, website or book is centered on a particular theme, then it is important that the author is being consistent with the said theme. For example, you’re the editor of a music-based magazine, in which the focus is on uprising music artists; the author then writes a whole section dedicated to the art of the The Wachowskis (they’re awesome, anyway). The section is nowhere close to a music topic. Irritated? Omit! Instead, have the writer change the section to music that is featured in The Wachowskis films that made artists famous.

Number Five: If there’s A Quote

A quote in an article or a piece of writing (in general, of course) is always a nice aspect, but always make certain that the quote is accurate and on point in the topic of the piece. And for goodness sake, always check that the person actually said the quote that is being provided rather than a dull “It was a terrible game” line.

Number Six: Those Dam Homonyms

Horrendous errors come when words are being misused awfully. Like that, were you paying attention, or were you watching the newest episode of your awful television program? Watch out for homonyms, for the results could be one ride of a wild maize. And if you did catch the errors in this numbered tip, give yourself a pat on the back.

Number Seven: And One More Time!

After you’ve read the piece, read it one more time! Maybe you missed something along the road and BOOM! another error, this time you made the mistake. How dare you?! It’s always important to peruse a piece twice, or even three times. You want this to be perfect, right? And, if you so please, take the second reading for a later time. It doesn’t have to be right away. Put some fresh eyes onto it within a few hours. You’ll be just fine, don’t cry.

Number Eight: Love Your Voice

This one is classic advice for proofreading: reading aloud. Face it, you did it at least once back in junior high when you were forced to read your annoying classmate’s paper on sci-fi flicks. Whether you read in a whisper or saying it out loud, it’s always groovy to use your voice to your advantage to keep an eye out for those terrifying errors.

Number Nine: Stray Away From Distractions

Please, oh please, leave that tweet for later and concentrate on the piece of writing. With distractions, your proofreading abilities will diminish. That being said, put away your smart-phone, turn off your flat-screen television and whatever else normally eases your boredom. Okay, some music, such as classical or soft jazz, is acceptable, but put a rain check on that hip-hop you just purchased from the local record store. Aren’t lyrics of the essence in hip-hop? That’s what I thought.

Number Ten: Did Spelling Even Come to Mind?

Lastly, be attentive to spelling errors within the author’s writing. Keep a dictionary, or even the web, nearby to double-check for mistakes. Like, shouldn’t this be one of the top three in the list? Yes, it is that important. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, it is writing!

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Syaf is the Founder at Brand Chapter Agency, a branding and web design agency with clients across all industries.

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