If you are a copyeditor or even has remote association with content editing, you must be aware of the term proofreading. In proofreading, you examine the text closely for spotting and rectifying errors related to typography, style, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and grammar. Proofreading and editing are essential elements of good content creation process.
As a proofreader, your motto is to eliminate all grammatical, vocabulary and other related errors from the document. Simple proofreading involves checking the sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, flow, incorrect usages, capitalization, and formatting of the content. Proofreading is the concluding phase of content creation wherein all errors are eliminated and approved standard of refinement is accomplished.
As a professional proofreader, you will be required to scrutinize the content several times for ensuring that all errors, inaccuracies and inconsistencies have been comprehensively eliminated.
The proofreading checklist detailed below carries all the information for making the content error free.
You need to go line by line through the document for tracking down spelling errors. If the font is not standing out, you can change the same to easily spot errors.
You can also utilize the in-built spell checker of MS Word. The wriggly lines in red would underline spelling errors. This tool is useful because your trained eyes can easily miss a minor spelling error in a large paragraph.
Spot the Grammatical Errors
When deadlines are stiff, grammatical errors can skip your attention. Grammar mistakes are subtle; hence you need to keenly go through each line. There are a set of words which are often used incorrectly. A little online research on your part would reveal them to you. Hit Control + F on the keyboard to find and check them before publishing. Check if the subjects and verbs agree. If not, reconstruct the sentence.
Check the Homophones
You would often overlook homophone, the words with varying meaning and spellings but with same phonetic sound. Example is discrete and discreet; the former means separate whereas the later implies being wise. Keep an eye for the same.
Ensure Compatibility with Reading Preferences of Audiences and English Version
US English and UK English have some fundamental differences. These country specific variations need to be maintained while catering to audiences of different English speaking locations. Refer the style guide frequently.
Some of the conventions that you need to keep in perspective include:
- Use serial comma in US English and not in UK English
- Use ‘percent’ in paragraphs but use ‘%’ in technical write-ups
- Capitalize each word in title in MLA style but capitalize the 1st word only in Harvard style
When targeting local audience, use specific jargon or spelling type. But, make the content suitable enough to be understood by people from other regions. Country specific references shouldn’t make it tough for some people to understand the content and context.
Check out Tables and Figures
While revising, editing and proofreading content with tables and figures, ensure that formatting is constant and referencing numbers are in series.
Analyze the parallelism
Faults in parallelism can occur particularly in the case of collective nouns. ‘Class;, for example, is a word which is seen as singular object.
Check the Usage of Hyphens and Dashes
Use hyphens properly for creating compound words, ‘en’ dash for indicating range, and ‘em’ dash for breaking up sentences.
One of the basic proofreading checklist items is to ensure that spelling for names and terms is consistent throughout the content. Verify if any name or odd spellings are correct.
Check the Formatting
Consult the style guide regarding spelling numbers out. Numbers from 1 to 9 are usually spelled whereas numbers from 10 and above are kept as numerals. If a sentence is being started with number above 10, it is spelled out. Check the guide for time, date, equation and other formatting types. Check if the paragraphs are indented correctly.
Ensure Consistency of Style Guide
Make it a point to follow each aspect of your company’s style guide meticulously. Also, ensure that the guide elements are consistent with your proofreading needs. Check if the industry standard style guidelines have been adhered to with regard to line spacing, citations, title pages, page numbering, etc.
Eliminate Redundant Words
Use shorter versions of phrases, if available. You can use ‘because’ instead of ‘due to the fact that’.
Avoid Splicing Sentences
Look for sentence fragments and run-ons and rectify them. Sentence is spliced when two different clauses are split up with comma. It is advisable that you separate the sentences or put a semi-colon in between.
Elaborate the Acronyms
Prior to using the acronym, you need to introduce the word which is abbreviated. If not, readers would be confused. Avoid using acronyms in titles.
Evaluate the Tone and Dialog
The words you choose must resonate with your content’s genre or targeted audiences. When creating a corporate copy, the tone must be compatible with brand’s overall tone. For blogs and social posts, the distinctive flavor of the author’s writing flair must be reflected. If the tone of a blog, for example, is friendly, ensure to correct the use of mocking words or phrases which doesn’t complement the tone.
While carrying out thesis, academic and legal proofreading, you need to ensure consistency of tone. Fix any errors upfront.
Ensure Continuity of Paragraphs
The flow of ideas through paragraphs should be smooth. Sentence following the previous one must be sensibly connected with it. To ensure proper transition, you must ask the writer to adhere to an outline. This will help you while reviewing the manuscript and editing improper transitions among paras and sentences.
Check The Tense
Ensure consistency of tense all along the content and correct inadvertent switching between present and past tenses.
Ensure variety in Vocabulary
If a particular word or phrase is being repeated many times within the content or at specific positions along the content, replace the same with synonyms. The alternate words should communicate the desired meaning.
While proofreading, eliminate words and sentences which convey ambiguity.
Keep Reference Information Handy
Eliminate all citations which are not present in the content. Ensure matching of in-text citations with reference section.
Use Only Contextual Images
Images should be self-explanatory and must be contextual.
Eliminate any Broken Link
Test the links to ensure that they are directing to the intended pages. After loading the content on CMS, check the integrity of each link.
Reading backward will help you catch the typing and spelling errors. Also, try reading from right to left and from bottom to the top of the page. In addition to that, make sure that you proofread only one sentence at a time.
Simplicity is the key
Good writing is all about simplicity and expressing your thoughts clearly. So, do not use wordy sentences as it will only make your writing complicated. Also, look out for redundancy or repetitive words.
Read it aloud
It is good practice to read your document aloud when you are done writing. Doing this will help you notice, or we may say “hear” the problems which you might have skipped while reading silently.