Editing skills are crucial for anyone in business. Even a simple email you send as part of your day-to-day business routine needs to be reviewed before you send it. For those in a writing-related occupation editing is even more important.
We have rounded up a collection of proofreading tips as well as useful proofreading exercises and practice tools available online. There are many valuable handouts and articles that can make the time you spend proofreading much more effective.
- The Writing Center at UNC has an excellent editing and proofreading handout. It calls proofreading the "final stage of the editing process." The handout gives several tips on good proofreading including not relying on spelling and grammar checkers, proofread for only one kind of error at a time and reading out loud. They also note that circling every punctuation mark makes it easier to spot these types of errors.
- A Harvard article called Editing the Essay includes the advice that you should be tough on even your favorite sentences.
- The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has an article about proofreading with many good tips, including the suggesting to set your work aside for a period of time before proofreading. Another good tip is to work from a print out of your paper and not don't just proofread on the computer screen.
- Some of Grammar Girl's tips include work backward, use a printed version of your paper and let your work site before proofreading.
You can find more good proofreading articles at Inklyo, BioMedical Editor and Copyblogger.
Here are highlights of the proofreading tips provided by online experts:
- Use a print out of your paper for a final proofread
- Read your paper out loud
- Read your paper slowly line by line
- Don't rely solely on grammar and spelling checkers
- Look for one type of error at a time
- Circle punctuation marks
- Don't ignore editing your favorite sentences
- Some experts advising proofreading backward
Proofreading exercises provide a way for you to test your knowledge and sharpen your editing skills. Here are some good exercises and quizzes available online:
- Purdue OWL Exercises - The Purdue OWL offers exercises and answers on a number of topics including punctuation, grammar, sentence style, spelling and more.
- Proofread Quiz - ten questions to test your editing skills.
- UEfAP Exercises - these proofreading exercises cover prepositions, ergative verbs, word order, nouns, spelling, punctuation and more.
- SfEP: Self-Test in Proofreading - test your skills with this test from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.
- Skills Practice: Find the Mistakes - this New York Times article lets you attempt to find errors in five different article excerpts. The answers are available in the included PDF.