Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 17 Feb 2021
Let’s get straight into it…
The biggest contributor to your success in life is your ability to focus single-mindedly on the task at hand (i.e. proofreading) and not stop before it is complete.
To achieve this, you should eliminate all things that might distract you when you’re proofreading your work; ensure that your working environment is tidy and clean, switch off your phone or put it into silent mode, get off social media and isolate yourself from people.
Never, ever, EVER proofread your work from the screen.
Usability studies have shown that reading from a reflected-light surface, like a printed document, is faster than the equivalent on an emitted-light surface, like your computer screen. When taking other issues, such as eye strain and fatigue, into consideration; it is highly recommended to print out your work and then proofread it from a hard copy.
Before printing out your work, you should do two things to improve readability:
a) Increase the font size to 14-16 pts
b) Add at least 1.5 space between lines
Silent reading can often result in some mistakes being overlooked. Reading your work out loud will also activate another of your senses; hearing, thereby increasing the chances of spotting spelling mistakes and incoherent sentence structures. This technique is also particularly useful to spot missing or misplaced punctuation marks such as commas and full stops.
Because you have written the essay or report, there is a good chance that despite your best efforts you will be unable to spot all spelling and grammar mistakes that you have made. After having proofread your own work, it is highly recommended that you ask a friend or family member to double-check your work as well.
Getting a professional to look at your work is another way of effectively spotting and correcting mistakes in your work. Many colleges and universities have dedicated academic support staff members that are trained to help students with key subjects such as English and Maths. Don’t be shy to drop by and ask for assistance. Alternatively, you may want to see your personal tutor or lecturer who may be able to proofread your work.
Finally, there are computer programs available that can check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Grammarly, for instance, checks for more than 250 grammar rules so there is a good chance that it can pick up the majority of spelling and grammar mistakes that you are currently making. However, these programs are by no means 100% perfect so you shouldn’t solely rely on them for all your proofreading needs.