8 proofreading tips and techniques

There are many gremlins lurking in the text, waiting to wreak havoc on your message. Here’s how to ferret them out.

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Whether you are writing a magazine article, a college essay or an email to a client, getting your text free of mistakes is essential. The spelling checker helps, but it is far from foolproof. That is where proofreading comes in. Below you will find eight tips and techniques to make your proofreading sessions more effective.

1. Concentration is key.

To spot mistakes, you need to concentrate. That means getting rid of distractions and potential interruptions. Switch off the cell phone, turn off the television or radio and stay out of your email.

2. Put it on paper.

People read differently on screen and on paper, so print out a copy of your writing. If you read aloud, your ear might catch errors that your eye may have missed.

3. Watch out for homonyms.

Homonyms are words that have (roughly) the same pronunciation but mean different things. Switching accept with except or complement with compliment could be disastrous, so pay special attention to them.

4. Watch out for contractions and apostrophes.

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