What makes good writing? If you judge good writing by the final product, not the first draft, then the key to good writing is proofreading, editing, and re-writing.
To become a better writer, you must become a better editor. Start by honing your proofreading skills in the following ways…
Take a break.
For good proofreading, give your eyes and brain a break from what you’ve been writing. Try to step away from a project for at least 24 hours. This lets you come back to it with a refreshed perspective. On a tight deadline, 24 hours may be unrealistic, but even a half-hour break can help.
Get yourself in focus.
Proofreading requires serious concentration. After all, you’re looking for a range of problems, from tiny typos to overall story structure. Make sure you do your proofreading in a place and time that lets you concentrate. Remove distractions, silence your phone, and sit in a quiet, comfortable spot.
Read out loud.
Reading your writing out loud can help you notice typos and awkward phrasing. This technique is especially important for copy that requires a casual, conversational tone. Reading out loud helps you know if the language is too formal or stilted. If it sounds wrong to you, it may sound wrong to the audience. Not sure about what you hear? Ask someone else for their input.
Change up the format.
When you focus on the same words on the same page for too long, it’s harder to notice mistakes. Changing the format of your writing gives your brain something new to focus on. Try one of these ideas:
- When proofreading, change the text font
- Print out your writing and reread it on paper
- Proofread on a different device than the one you used to type it
- Proofread in a different location from where you wrote it
Reread your work, starting from the last sentence and ending with the first. This helps find typos and other more technical errors in individual words, since you’re less concerned with the flow of information.
Remember: even great writers don’t have a perfect first draft. Don’t be embarrassed by the mistakes you find. Practice these proofreading tips, and no one who sees the finished product will suspect a thing.
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