Before employing a professional, it is essential for an author to proofread his/her own copy along the way to ensure the intended meaning gets through.
But quite frankly, proofreading one’s own work stinks. Letting a simple typo slip by seems inevitable when one is so familiar with the text. The story in one’s head fills in the gaps and glosses right over those annoying mistakes. However, it is possible to catch them by tricking the brain into seeing the words on the page in a new way.
Here are five tricks to try.
READ OUT LOUD
Saying the words forces the eyes to match up what’s written with what the ears hear. While it’s difficult to think of a way that smelling a manuscript would help, involving more of the five senses increases the proofreader’s awareness of the text.
The find function in any given word processor deserves a medal. The process might take forever, but when one control+fs their way through every instance of there/their/they’re, it’s/its, or then/than the material can only get stronger.
Starting at the last page, working backwards sentence by sentence is not for the faint of heart. However, the mistakes are harder for the brain to fill in or replace when the contextual reminders aren’t there from a previous paragraph or chapter.
PRINT IT OUT
While a pain to print out long manuscripts (remember to recycle!), looking at the text in a format different from how it was written leaves fewer screen-fatigue crannies and scroll-happy hideouts in which the culprits could successfully lurk. Printing on colored paper lends an extra boost.
CHANGE YOUR LOCATION
Proofreading in a physical space that isn’t wherever the text was written is a tactic somewhat similar to printing out the document. In a way, it changes the reader’s format, separating you-the-writer from you-the-editor, and can help break the muscle memory of writing.