Linda Maye Adams

How to Proofread Without Going (Too) Crazy


Let’s get this straight:  I hate proofreading.  I’d rather do anything but proofread because it is so unbelievably boring and tedious — especially when it’s 400 pages that needs to be done.  But I also make a lot of typos, dropping letters, omitting words, spelling errors, wrong word errors (i.e., template for temple), so proofreading is pretty essential.   So this is my way to do it without going crazy:

  1. Leave the proofreading until the last step.  It’s tempting to try quick scans to catch the typos, but in revision, more typos will likely be introduced, so it’s just extra work.  I’m all for not doing extra work.  Once the manuscript is done:
  2. Run spell check on the entire manuscript.  This is a fast way to catch all kinds of typos.
  3. Print the entire manuscript.  Reverse the pages so that the last page is on top.
  4. Start reading the manuscript beginning with the last paragraph, and the moving up to the second to last paragraph.  This puts it in a different order so that mistakes such as personal pronoun issues will be more obvious.
  5. Use a colored pen to make the typos.  The pen should be in a color easily visible.  For my own personal use, I prefer green because red is too much like what teachers gave us in school to tell us, “You did this wrong!”

According to a writing instructor I had a few years ago, this will catch about 95% of the typos.

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