Five Tips for Proofreading Your Electronic Document
Everyone’s got tips for better proofreading with electronic documents. Mine are probably no different from anyone else’s. However, these tips are good reminders. Here are the five that I offer.
1. When you are using Microsoft Word, pay attention to the obvious errors Word calls out.
As the years have gone by, each Microsoft Word version has gotten smarter in catching errors, but it doesn’t catch them all. Word isn’t always correct about an error; sometimes it flags a complete sentence as a fragment because it can’t detect the verb. But take a second look at what the squiggly line is underlining, and in most cases, correct it.
2. Use the Spelling & Grammar function in Microsoft Word.
The Spelling & Grammar (S&G) function is your friend. (You can also press F7 on your keyboard.) If you haven’t already corrected your squiggly-line issues, S&G will zero in on these as part of a full proofreading check. DO NOT IGNORE THE ITEMS S&G FLAGS. Seriously consider the suggested change and either hit the Change button or come up with a darn good grammatical reason why it’s okay for you to press the Ignore Once button.
3. Print out your document and read it aloud.
I know printing an electronic document isn’t environmentally friendly, but what’s one branch if you’re able to impress a potential employer with your flawless résumé? Most of us are not able to catch every error by simply reading an electronic file. Printing your document out and reading it aloud gives you a better chance. Read slowly and tap a pen or a pencil on each word that you pronounce. This ensures that you’re not scanning your document (as you would if you simply read aloud electronically) and that you’re reading every word you see. If you find a mistake, you’ve got a writing utensil ready to make a correction.
4. Have another set of eyes read a clean version of your printed document.
If you haven’t caught any mistakes and want to be sure your document is spotless, pass it on to someone else to proofread it. If you have marked up mistakes on your printed version, print a new version so your proofreader isn’t influenced by your markups. (By the way, try to select a proofreader who doesn’t have a history of misspelling and poor grammar usage.)
5. If possible, let it sit for a day or two.
When I write my posts for this blog, I print out a copy of my post, throw it in my inbox, and let it sit for at least a day so I can read it with fresh eyes. When I come back to it, I often catch an error or a sentence that I want to word differently. Letting a document sit for a few days isn’t always possible but can be beneficial.
Those are a few I came up with, but please feel free to add your tips in the comments!