As a creative writer, you might find it easy to get carried away with a spark of inspiration, churning out pages and pages of glorious, motivated content than worrying about proofreading.
We writers cherish these moments and never want them to end, but when they finally do, we are always left in the same situation.
After writing an amazing piece off the top of your head comes the tedious task of proofreading and editing. Luckily, a vast range of fantastic tips explored below can help and empower you. As a writer using these insights, you can be safe in the knowledge that your creative content is the best it can possibly be.
Then you can continue reading to review some extremely helpful online tools that can help with all your creative writing processes, enabling you to focus on the more important and enjoyable aspects of writing.
These proofreading tips will help.
Tip #1. Take a Break
Having just finished such an inspired piece of work, the flow of your thought process is still fresh. More times than not, this means if you were to read back through your content straight away, you would read only what you thought you wrote.
Immediately after your write, take a short break or move onto another writing project. This highly-recommended advice means you can proofread your writing at a later date with a fresh mindset, enabling you to proofread more critically and accurately.
Tip #2. Never Settle For Less than Perfect
You’ve poured your heart and soul into this piece. Don’t ruin it by taking the rushed approach to proofreading. Reading through your work once means you will probably notice a lot of the grammar and punctuation mistakes, but as mentioned above, by taking a break and returning to proofread it again, you can be sure you’ll correct errors you missed on the first scan.
Tip #3. Get Help from Experts
Some writers find employing the expertise or advice of other qualified writers from online services such as or Paper Fellows can help drastically.
Individuals from these services are able to read through your text, rewarding you with fresh ideas and advice for improving content.
Using these services multiple times as you progress through your work enables you to create the best work possible.
Tip #4. Remember that Proofreading and Editing are Different
This might be news to some writers, but it’s an important bit of information to take on board. Editing and proofreading are different tasks and have completely different purposes. Editing refers to making edits and changes in the form of language and the actual written content itself. Proofreading is necessary after all changes are made.
Tools for Editing and Proofreading
This tool specialise in editing content and improving ease of reading can help you improve sentence structure and grammar.
- Penflip or Oxessays or Grammarly
- (Unsure? Read this review of ProWritingAid vs Whitesmoke vs Grammarly)
Proofreading is one of your final checks before finishing off a piece of content. In a proofread, you’re looking to make changes to aspects such as spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Online proofreading tools and services offer a fresh pair of eyes to review your work, correcting and making changes to the grammatical structure of your text to ensure its accuracy.
Easy Word Count
Creating the perfect piece of content takes time. Whether you’re writing, editing or proofreading, take your time to complete the work to the best of your ability.
Easy Word Count means you can track the amount of work you are creating then proofread and edit every 100-150 words.
Your final proofread will be a lot less time consuming, and you can be proud of your finished piece without constant rereading.
This awesome piece of software is ideal for aspiring creative writers, especially those interested in writing books and novels for the first time.
Not only does it boast a vast range of organizational tools that helps you stay on top of things, but the features will also provide writing advice and insights that help you stay productive, motivated and inspired.
Also, you can get great help writing guides such as State of Writing and Viawriting.
Top 10 proofreading tips by John Espirian
???? This post is part of my business blogging guide.
- As a former director of what is now the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), I’m interested in improving the standards of all written work.
- Here are my top tips to help you proofread your own writing.
- A lot of people still think that running an automatic spellcheck is all they need to do to find and fix their errors.
I can’t really blame them. Microsoft Word and other word-processing programs don’t tell them otherwise.
Talk to an editor or proofreader and you’ll soon understand that automated tools aren’t enough.
Perhaps they will be enough in the future – computers are getting better all the time – but right now, they aren’t.
Phillip AshurstManaging Director
- Thanks, John, for your excellent work on proofreading our website.
- Your integrated approach and feedback embraced the entire site and our intentions while also picking up the minor details.
- Very thorough, professional and of the highest standards.
Don’t get me wrong: you should still do a spellcheck to squash the obvious typos.
But that’s just the starting point.
Tip 1. Don’t rely solely on spellcheck
Using a spellchecker is one thing; relying on it is something quite another. Spellcheckers have their place but they won’t catch every mistake.
Even when words are spelled correctly, they’re often used incorrectly. Compare these statements:
- We have an envious track record.
- We have an enviable track record.
The spellchecker skips right through and says everything’s fine. But wait: the first sentence doesn’t convey the right meaning (hey, trust us, even though we’re jealous of everyone else!).
Knowing such issues exist is one thing; finding and fixing them is quite another. But that’s what the remaining tips are about, so don’t give up!
Tip 2. Be clear
Keep your target audience in mind. Will they understand your writing? Get these basics right:
- Clarity: make clear statements
- Simplicity: eliminate jargon where possible
- Tone: use appropriate language
Pedants will want to throw you in a lake of fire if you make a spelling mistake
But, but, BUT – the average non-mentalist will forgive a spelling mistake or two so long as your message is clear and simple.
Tip 3. Change your view
Have you ever written a letter in Microsoft Word and then seen something wrong with it after it was printed? Yup, it’s often easier to spot errors on paper than on a screen.
But you don’t have to print things out to make this tip work.
All you need to do is change your view of the text to make it look fresh, e.g.
- Style: choose a different typeface that’s easy on the eye.
- Size: increase the size of the typeface.
- Spacing: increase the space between the lines of text.
- Colour: change the background colour (see Design | Page Color in Word).
I use the Open Dyslexic and American Typewriter typefaces with a green page background when I’m in ‘editing mode’. Here’s an example:
Simple changes to the text view can make all the difference during editing.
- It’s best to make these changes in a copy of the document.
- If you send someone a document with a green background, they might think you’ve gone kooky
- ⬆️ Top
Tip 4. Read your content backwards
Altering your reading pattern can help you spot oddities and mistakes in your text. Reading backwards can be slow going at first, but you’ll soon speed up. Persevere and the rewards will come.
(If it helps, imagine you’re Yoda. Mistakes more spot will you.)
Reading backwards doesn’t mean you need to start from the end of a document and work your way back. I apply the process at the sentence level, not the document level.
Here’s an example:
,lamb little a had Mary
.snow as white was fleece Its
The reordering is confusing enough without having to go from the end of the entire document to the beginning.
Tip 5. Read out loud
10 Essential Proofreading Tips For Flawless Text
1. Focus On Punctuation!
Paying attention to punctuation is of utmost importance when it comes to proofreading your text – after all, this involves more than looking for errors: you need to see if the phrases are properly connected to each other and if they make sense. Sometimes, if you misplace or forget to use a comma you can change the whole meaning of a phrase. Avoid using too many question marks and exclamation points. More about this here.
2. Take A Break Before Proofreading The Text
Once you are done writing your text, take a break of 10-15 minutes before you move on to the next step (if you are not on a tight schedule, leave the text for a couple of days and return with “fresh eyes”). If you take a small break, it will be easier for you to point out the mistakes that may occur: some phrases or syntagms (Definiton) may not sound right and you will have to replace or correct them.
3. Ask Somebody To Proofread It For You!
This is certainly a great idea. If you ask a friend to proofread your text for you, he or she will read it from a totally different perspective – an objective one. You will be amazed to see how many errors you have missed. Usually, this does not happen because of ignorance, but simply because you were tired or you were not paying attention.
4. Make Use Of Online Tools
Fortunately, you can find countless free online tools that will check your text for errors. They are very quick and efficient, and this is why they are of great help for any writer, blogger or journalist.
These online spellcheckers can easily detect repeated words, and they will inform you if you have forgotten or reversed letters.
These online tools are ideal for those writers who are always in a hurry and who want to double-check their content, just to make sure it is flawless.
Our online editor provides free, online proofreading of your texts, and doesn't require any download whatsoever. The “Deep Check”-button can detect up to 10 times more mistakes compared to regular word processors.
It also comes with writing suggestions that aim to help you improve your writing skills. All you have to do is to copy and paste the text inside the designated box and click the “Free Check”-button – simple and easy.
100 Proofreading Tips For Writers
Editing and proofreading are vital for producing great writing.
But where should you look? What should you change? As the most comprehensive proofreading list on the web, this list provides 100 tips to get your work into professional shape.
The term editing covers a wide range of practices, from restructuring whole documents to recasting sentences. Proofreading is the final stage, when everything’s in place and you’re just looking for consistency of style and final errors.
These editing and proofreading tips are divided into six logical sections, including:
- Practical Processes
- The Bigger Picture
- Sentence-level Editing
- Don’t Forget!
Let’s get on to the 100 best editing and proofreading tips for writers.
The first category, habits, includes general actions you should do regularly for effective editing and proofreading of any kind of writing.
1. Sleep on it
If you’ve been living with a manuscript for a long time, you lose objectivity. Editing and proofreading require a clear, objective mind. One way to get that state of mind is to sleep on it.
Never try to do all your editing and proofreading in one day. Get a good night’s sleep and return to the manuscript the next day. Even for a short document that you finish writing in a few hours, look at it again the next day.
Errors will jump out at you.
2. Look over the document at different times of day
I’m not a morning person, but I’ve found I get a fresh perspective on my work the next morning. If I’m slaving over a document all morning, however, it can be helpful to take a look at it again the next day at night.
Proofreading Tips and Techniques | Editage
Most proofreading services hire only professional proofreaders who have a trained eye for detecting errors in your document.
However, proofreading is a meticulous and tough task that requires the proofreader to evaluate every sentence for misspellings, grammatical inaccuracies, and inconsistencies.
Moreover, for best results, it is advisable to get your writing looked at by another individual who is a professional proofreader, is familiar with your area of research, and can look at your document objectively.
There are many ways to proofread a document. Most online proofreading services have a system in place to provide you with quality proofreading. Proofreading service offered by Editage includes a thorough check for typographical errors as well as errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency. It involves the following checks:
We specialize in proofreading the following types of documents
- Basic language check
- Basic grammar
Although proofreading is best done by professionals, there are many occasions where you might have to proofread your own writing. Here are 5 top proofreading tips provided by our best in-house proofreaders.
Thorough proofreading requires the right frame mind. Apart from the tricks and techniques that help you with spotting and eliminating errors, you will require focus, concentration and undivided attention.
Here, we present the top 5 proofreading tips and techniques approved by our top in-house proofreaders:
- Give it some time: Proofreading is about detecting errors on the surface. If you have just finished writing the document, chances are you are in too deep. It is a good idea to take a break before you start proofreading. A fresh mind will help you concentrate better and detect errors easily.
- Read it out loud: Reading each word out loud will help you detect typos, misplaced commas, and awkward constructions with ease.
- Use a checklist: Create a checklist of the errors you frequently make and ensure you particularly look for those while proofreading your document. Some of the common errors to watch out for are homonyms (words with the same spelling/pronunciation, but different meanings), contractions (its and it’s), punctuation, and capitalization.
- Offline proofread: Print out your document and proofread it line by line. Reading from paper may help you detect errors missed during an online proofread.
- Once is not enough: Proofreading your document once is not enough to detect all errors. Continue to proofread till you find no errors. To ensure you don’t miss anything, look for one type of issue at a time – grammatical mistakes, punctuation, numerical errors, inconsistencies, formatting, etc.
What Are the Best Ways to Proofread Effectively?
Acclaimed author Mark Twain had much to say on the topics of writing and language during his life, and his words are still quoted regularly today.
The quote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug,” for example, is one of Twain's most well-known observations.
Ironically, however, it is often misquoted and lightning is misspelled twice as lightening.
Twain himself had little patience for such errors and vehemently advocated for proofreading. As once an old newspaper reporter himself, Twain knew full well how hard it is to proofread your own work, but he also knew that proofreaders can't always catch all of your mistakes. As he said in a letter to Sir Walter Bessant in February 1898:
“[W]hen you think you are reading proof, … you are merely reading your own mind; your statement of the thing is full of holes and vacancies but you don't know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along. Sometimes—but not often enough—the printer's proof-reader saves you—and offends you … and [you] find that the insulter is right.”
So how does one proofread one's own work effectively, catching all of the mistakes without having to rely on someone else to do so? Here are ten strategies for doing just that.
There's no foolproof formula for perfect proofreading every time—as Twain realized, it's just too tempting to see what we meant to write rather than the words that actually appear on the page or screen. But these 10 tips should help you see (or hear) your errors before anybody else does.
- Give it a rest.
6 Quick and Easy Tips for Proofreading
Us professional proofreaders are a mysterious breed; a clan of brooding grammar obsessives and spelling pedants, forever clinging on to our red correction pens and shouting verbose slogans about not splitting infinitives.
Needless to say, this slavish devotion to typographical accuracy is why we’re so good at spotting mistakes that other people miss.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to be quite so enamored with editorial excellence to proofread your own writing. To help out, we’ve prepared six quick tips for proofreading that anyone can use.
6 Tips for Proofreading
Proofreading Tip #1 – Plan for Your Proofreading!
The biggest mistake people make when proofreading is not allowing enough time. Spotting errors in your work requires patience and care, so you need to make sure you set aside time to go back over everything before the deadline for your paper.
Proofreading Tip #2 – Vary Your Reading Style
Proofreading demands slow and careful reading. The best way to do this is often to print out your work and read it on paper rather than on a computer screen, which gives you “fresh eyes” and helps make errors stand out.
Alternatives include reading out loud, reading backwards (i.e., starting at the end of your paper) and even reading upside down!
Proofreading Tip #3 – Use Computers Wisely…
Although printing your work out can aid proofreading, your computer also has a few tricks up its plastic sleeves.
Spellcheckers, for example, can be invaluable. The “Find” function in Microsoft Word is a great time saver if you spot a repeated error, too, as it lets you quickly check for additional instances of the same kind.
Proofreading Tip #4 – …But Look Out for Homonyms!
The downside of computer spellcheckers is that they’ll miss erroneous homophones: i.e., words that sound the same as other words, so aren’t spelling mistakes, but are still not the word you intended.
Computers can also struggle with acronyms and proper nouns, so be especially careful to double check these.
Proofreading Tip #5 – Check Your References
Referencing is often where errors creep into otherwise excellent academic papers, so make sure that you check your citations before submitting.
The best way to do this is to compare your citations against a style guide provided by your college. Using a citation generator can help too.
Proofreading Tip #6 – Stay Fresh!
The last of our quick tips for proofreading is to stay fresh! Since concentration is vital to effective proofreading, it’s important to take a break now and then.
It can even be worth taking a day away from your paper before you start proofreading. The first step to good proofreading, then, is sometimes to do something else entirely!