Some people are more naturally gifted editors. However, it’s not simply something you’re born with (or not).
Take these steps to improve your proofreading prowess:
1. Assume a mistake is elsewhere, too.
The first instance of specific mistake could be a sign of more to come. Indeed, the specific mistake may exist all over the document. Pause your editing, and select the “find” feature in your word processor. Enter the errant word or phrase, and search the whole document. Fix every error completely before you move on.
2. Edit on screen, and then proofread on paper.
A computer screen presents a barrier to proofreading. For some reason, our eyes and brain just don’t notice the letters and words on the screen very well.
However, errors tend to jump out at us from the printed page. Of course, extensive editing is challenging on paper, so save your heavy lifts for the screen.
3. Read your sentences in reverse order.
Catching errors can be challenging if you’ve read through a document several times already. That’s because your mind knows what’s coming next (or at least, what your brain thinks comes next).