Now that you've written that manuscript you may want to proofread it before sending it off, here's a few general tips.
The skill of proofreading is necessary whether you are a student, a professional writer, or someone that creates lots of office
memos. No matter the context in which you are writing, there are systematic procedures that you can follow to ensure you produce
the best work possible.
are three types of proofreading: Comparison, content, and format. A comparison proofread may not be applicable to every project
you do. It applies to projects in which you have an original document you are copying from. This 'original document' could
be your own handwritten notes, they could be a typed document that needs to be re-typed because a file was lost, or they could
be a document with changes scrawled by hand all across the pages.
A comparison proofing
requires a word for word, character for character comparison of the new document and the old document. The purpose of this
reading is to make sure that the exact same words and punctuation are in both documents. A comparison proofread is the first
type of proofing that will take place.
For a content proofread, you may put aside
the original document and focus on the new document. At this stage you will be looking for correct sentence structure, logic,
spelling, punctuation, and factuality. You will also be looking for consistency. If your memo says, "(s) he would be in violation
of company policy and then later states he/she would need to report the incident to the appropriate supervisor", there is
a consistency error. A change should be noted to use either "he/she" or "(s) he" consistently. The purpose of the content
read is to make sure the document is correct and reads well.
Finally, a format proofread
is preformed. A format proofing is just what it sounds like. You are looking for a correct format and consistent format in
the document. There are certain formatting conventions that are followed when typing, for example, a business letter. There
may also be specific formatting rules when typing a memo for company. An easy way to start a format proofread is to 'scan
the edges' of the document and look for anything that sticks out and doesn't look right. Then look at the overall page: Does
it look balanced? For example, is the text consistency justified or consistency left aligned? Now scan the document and pay
attention to the spaces instead of the words. Take out any extra spaces you find within the text. Finally, this is the time
when you will check page numbers and footnotes, if applicable.
Give yourself ample
time to go through each of these three types/stages of proofreading for the cleanest most professional resulting document.
The following tips will help you do a more accurate proofing at any stage:
proof from a hard copy. Do not try to proof a document from your computer screen; you will miss many errors this way.
2. When marking the document, try using proof-reader marks. If you are unsure of the proof-reader mark
for a particular correction, write out the change you want to make. Be clear and specific about your corrections; do not simply
circle the errors.
3. When possible, do not proofread your own work. You know what
you mean to say, so you are more likely to skim over errors. If you are able, get more than one person to proofread your work.
Everyone has different strengths and they will find different errors.
4. Break down
your tasks. When you are doing a content proofing, the number of things you need to look out for may overwhelm you. It is
best to break it down into quicker, more specific proofreads rather than one big proofread. For example, do one proofing for
spelling and punctuation, next proof the document for grammatical errors, then do a third content proofing for factuality
5. When you are doing a comparison proofread, use a straight edge
(such as a ruler or piece of paper) as a guide. If you carefully move the straight edge from line to line on the original
document, you are less likely to miss omitted text in the new document.
a proofing for spelling, try reading the document backwards. When each individual word is looked at, outside the context of
a sentence, you are less likely to miss spelling errors.
7. After corrections
have been made, don't forget to proof the revised document. First check to see that all the corrections were made, then read
over the document one more time to make sure you didn't miss something the first time around!
a final note, my own manuscript went through three proofs before the final was agreed upon, and it is quite easy to get complacent,
as an example I had by mistake deleted a sentence on one of the proofs, then wrote above it, deletion made in error please
ignore. Guess what, yup in the next and supposed final proof it read. Deletion made in error please ignore fell on the remains
of... And I missed it! Because I found myself reading it as I had written it originally and not as it was before me. If that
starts to happen then start at the last page and work backwards, try not to read it in sequence.