One Writer’s Journey

June 14, 2019

Proofing: Four Tips to Help You Catch Those Errors

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:04 am
Tags: , ,

A friend of mine just got a rejection letter.  Yes, it bothered her but what was more upsetting was opening her essay to find a wide variety of errors she hadn’t seen before.  How can you avoid this in your own work?  Here are three tips.

Cultivate Absence.  It is easier to spot errors when you aren’t overly familiar with a piece.  That’s not so easy to achieve when it is your writing.  One way to give yourself an edge is to put your work aside for a week or a month if not longer.  Unfortunately, deadlines sometime make this impossible.  Not to worry.  There are other ways.

Work on Paper.  A lot of people really strive for that paperless office.  That’s fine but most people edit much better on paper.  I print my work out and then set myself up in the dining room with a cup of coffee and my rewrite candle.  Yes, I have a rewrite candle. Don’t judge.  I light it every time I need to work on a rewrite and once I smell the aroma of licorice (I said, quit judging!) I get right to work.

Change the Font.  One of the reasons that we miss errors is because our eyes are skimming over the text.  Change this by changing the font.  I’m not suggesting that you go with Comic Sans or Wingding or anything like that.  And, personally, I need a serif font just because they are easier for me to read.  But instead of Times Roman, I can use Cambria or Century. They are just different enough that they help me see my work differently.

Listening Ears.  Last but not least, read your work out loud.  To do this, I use the Word add-on Speak.  It reads selected text in a robotic voice.  Annoying? Yes.  But I can hear errors that I don’t seem to see.  Many people can just read their work aloud. When I try that, it works for a few paragraphs and then I resort to reading in my head.

Do any of you have other techniques that you use to help you spot errors in your work?

–SueBE

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