Proofreading is a process that should happen to every piece of writing before it is published. Even the most proficient writers can make typos or silly mistakes when they experience momentary lapses in judgment or concentration.
Whether you are checking your own work before submitting it or proofreading something for a client, there are steps you must take to ensure that you are being sufficiently thorough and catching all potential mistakes.
Microsoft Word is an excellent tool used by writers and proofreaders alike. With the ability to control font, page size, and many more features, Word has been the choice program for many since Word 1.0 first appeared on screens in 1985.
Although there are now other programs that people use such as Google Documents and WPS Office Free, Word remains the favorite choice of many. This is a guide on proofreading a document on Microsoft Word plus some general proofreading tips.
Ever since the early versions, Microsoft Word has had its own spellcheck feature. Red lines for spelling or repeated words and green or blue lines for grammar might sound familiar to veteran users. However, it is unwise to rely on this feature alone, as it cannot detect everything. That being said, do pay attention to these little colored lines.
Grammarly has a free online grammar checker you can use for a basic sweep. Just remember that it isn't foolproof; just use it to clear up any obvious mistakes and typos before going through it yourself.
Editing Tools on Microsoft Word
When you are proofreading someone else's work, they need to be able to see what has changed. Consider using the following features.
To activate this, click on the "Review" tab and then "Track Changes" under the "Tracking" button. Now, every time you change something in the document, it becomes visible. This feature can be switched on and off when you like.
To add a comment, click on the "Review" tab and click "New Comment." Comments can also be replied to if you are sending the document back and forth for multiple checks. To get rid of a comment, right click and select "Delete Comment." Add a new comment when you want to specify what you're changing, why, or leave some notes for the writer.
Keep "Track Changes" activated whenever you adjust something in the document. That way, when you send it back to the client, they can see what you have changed without you having to manually adjust the text. They can also reach comments by clicking the "Review" tab and then clicking "Next."
Tips For Double-Checking
Even the most proficient of proofreaders can make errors. A couple good ways to double-check your work include . . .
- listening to it, and
- reading it aloud.
One way to listen to a document is to open Google Translate, then copy and paste a selected piece of text into the left box. You will see a sound icon; click it to have the text being read to you.
You may have to do this in "batches" for longer documents. Listening to the text in addition to reading it can help you catch small typos or mistakes and is a great way to perform a final scan on your work.
Additional Tips on Proofreading
Whether you're proofreading on Microsoft Word or not, here are some more tips for the job.
- For those proofreading a story or novel, ask the writer for a style guide, especially if there are fantasy elements or invented words in the document. This will prevent you from correcting things that aren't supposed to be corrected.
- Make sure you know whether the document is supposed to be in British or American English and adhere to it. For example, the phrase "different than" (as in "dogs are different than cats") is acceptable wording in American English, but "different to" or "different from" is better in British English. Be sure to know which one the writer prefers and stick to it.
- Don't be afraid to do a search on the internet for things you're not sure about. Did you come across a word you don't know? Unsure if something's right or not? Don't be afraid to ask Google! It's better than guessing.
- Stay consistent. With many aspects of language, there are several things that could be "correct." If the issue crops up often, be sure to use the same style each time. For example, is it "Chris' dog" or "Chris's dog"? After asking the writer which they prefer, keep it consistent throughout.
- Do a search check at the end. Once you've finished the whole document, press Ctrl+F to locate problem words. Once they're all consistent, your work is done.
With the above tools, you can proofread effectively, bringing your client's or your own work to a much higher standard than before. Correct spelling, perfect grammar, and crisp wording can be the difference between shoddy writing and a professional document.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Poppy
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on August 19, 2020:
You're welcome! Thank you for commenting.
Ruksana on August 19, 2020:
Very informative and helpful. Thanks loads!
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on June 09, 2020:
I'm glad you think so. Thank you so much for stopping by!
Feyi on June 09, 2020:
This is a really helpfull article.
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on December 13, 2018:
Thanks, Liz. I suppose that’s why HubPro editor is a thing as well. It’s easiest to miss typos in your own work, which is why people should get others to proofread something of theirs even if they are a editor themselves.
Liz Westwood from UK on December 13, 2018:
This is a really helpful article. I am a great one for reading something several times and not spotting obvious typos! Grammarly has been a bonus since Aesta advised me to download the free version. Even so you can guarantee that Hub Page editors still find mistakes despite several proof reads by me.
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on December 12, 2018:
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Laura. Printing out work is good, but it ends up being twice as much work because you then have to copy your changes on the computer. I agree that the more edits you do, the better; for your own work, it's fine, but for clients' work with deadlines, you want to be able to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on December 12, 2018:
Good topic. It can be hard to proofread documents on a screen. I like to print my work out and proofread with a pen before making the changes in Word. Even then, I still catch things while I'm entering the corrections and changes. Also, proofreading backwards helps to catch any rushed mistakes at the end of a document. In the end, the more edits you do, the better off you will be.