Written by Mo Stone
When it comes to translating or writing of any kind, there is one finishing step that causes many an author to groan, and that’s proofreading. By the time we get to this point, most of us are eager to hand it in, and taking the time to proofread seems like a hassle. However, since most freelancers do not have the luxury of hiring a proofreader, becoming better at this final stage is vital. Read on for valuable tips to improve your proofreading, ultimately saving you time and helping your work stand out for your clients.
What Is Proofreading?
Proofreading is part of the editing process, but it is different from copyediting. By the time you get to the proofreading stage, you or someone else should have already read your article and made changes in terms of organization and clarity. When it comes to proofreading, you are only looking at mistakes such as spelling, grammatical, and formatting errors.
Translators should pay particular attention to inconsistencies in punctuation, as this can vary between languages, as well as the spellings of unfamiliar names and places. Be sure that all units are represented consistently and correctly for your target audience, such as referring to temperatures in Fahrenheit for readers of American English.
Look With Fresh Eyes
When doing your own proofreading, one of the biggest potential traps is the fact that by this point, you have already read the piece several times and it has become easy to skim over, which could cause you to miss errors. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can look at it with fresh eyes, improving your ability to spot your mistakes.
Always take a break between reads. Have something to eat, take a walk, or go do another task and return to proofreading later. It’s also useful to visibly change the text so that you can see it differently, helping you to notice things that you didn’t see before. Many writers swear by printing a hard copy and proofreading with a pen, but if you don’t have access to a printer, changing the font or color can be a useful way to trick your eyes into seeing your article in a new way. Another practical tip is to read it out loud, or use a playback tool so that you can hear what you’ve written. This helps to catch mistakes that your eyes may have glossed over.
Divide and Conquer
In terms of the act of proofreading itself, you should organize yourself efficiently to ensure that you don’t leave anything out. Make a list of the different items to be checked, such as spelling, punctuation, and dates and numbers, and go through your article, looking for each item one at a time. Another great way to focus solely on the details is by reading your piece backwards. This might sound like a strange idea, but reading backwards takes the context out of the writing, forcing you to focus only on the words themselves.
If you can, enlist a friend or colleague to look over your paper for you. While we know that this might not be a possibility for all situations, two pairs of eyes are definitely better than one, and your associate will probably spot things that you’ve missed!
How do you feel about proofreading? Are there any other tips we should add? Tell us in the comments below!