10 proofreading tips for ESL writers

 

Proofread your own writing

When we proofread and edit our own writing, we have a tendency to read it as we think it should be, which means we misread our spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. We also skip over problems with word choice, sentence and paragraph structure, context, flow and readability. It is therefore essential that you learn how to proofread and edit your written work.

For dissertations, essays, and submissions to journals and publications, hiring a professional proofreader or editor is the best way to ensure your writing is free of mistakes and is coherent and engaging. After all, it is difficult to scrutinise your own cherished words.

However, you can prepare your writing, by following these tips, before you send it to a professional service for a detailed proofread and objective edit.

10 PROOFREADING AND EDITING TIPS FOR WRITERS

Develop good habits. Proofread and edit every single piece of writing before it is seen by the world. Even if you hire a professional editor or proofreader,  always check your work first.

Understand the difference between proofreading and editing. Edit first by perfecting content and language. Proofread second to check for proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, spacing and formatting.

Use the Track Changes function in Microsoft Word when you edit. This function saves your edits. You can then accept or reject those edits. Download the bridger-jones.com guide to using Track Changes

Breathe. Take time away from a piece of writing before you proofread it. When you come back to your work you will have a clear head.

Before you start proofreading and editing, run  the spelling and grammar check in your word processing software. Run it several times. However, don’t count on software or online programmes for spelling and grammar; they can’t pick up on context and correct syntax. Nor can they reveal the simple misuse of words.

Read your work aloud. Pronounce each word clearly and slowly as you read. Mistakes will magically reveal themselves. This process will also give you insight into the readability of your work.

Use the courier font. The courier font gives equal space between characters making it easier to spot mistakes. In the image below, the bottom font is courier.

use-the-courier-font-for-easier-proofreading

Similarly, use 1.5 or double spacing in your document.

Proofread and edit several times. Professional editors and proofreaders will go through texts 3 times or more.

Thoroughly research the spelling of proper names as well as jargon and scientific and technical terms that you’re not familiar with.

Don’t forget to proofread titles, headlines, footnotes, citations, and punctuation.
For academic or commercial writing, choose one of the many style guides and use it consistently.

Happy writing!

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Posted in Academic Writing Tips.