National Proofreading Day is March 8th,and this day is dedicated to promoting error-free writing. We are all capable of making grammatical errors and spelling mistakes when we type, which is why it is important to double-check your work. While National Proofreading Day reminds us to do this, we want to remind you to look after your eyes while proofreading.
Why is proofreading important?
Proofreading is important, no matter what type of content it is. Checking content thoroughly ensures that your work is polished, reads well, is accurate and doesn’t contain spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Checking for these kinds of mistakes will ensure the content is easy to read and understand.
Top 9 tips for proofreading
Follow these tips to become more effective at proofreading.
1. Wear eyewear with the correct prescription
If you have a refractive error such as long-sightedness (hyperopia), short-sightedness (myopia), astigmatism or presbyopia, make sure you're wearing corrective eyewear when proof checking, such as contact lenses or prescription glasses.
Our eyes have to work harder when reading from a digital screen, and the blue light emitted from these screens can lead to digital eyestrain. Wear blue light glasses when proofreading from a computer screen to stop your eyes from feeling so fatigued. Blue light glasses are designed to block some of this blue light, reducing many risks, including macular degeneration.
2. Change the font size
When reading from a screen, playing around with the font size can help with inattentional blindness, (which causes us to fail to spot mistakes) by tricking your brain into thinking that you’re looking at something new and therefore paying more attention.
3. Print it out
Words can look different on paper compared to a screen, which is why printing your work can give you a fresh perspective when proofreading, helping you to spot errors more easily.
4. Look after your eyes
Your eyes are your greatest assets when proofreading, so make sure you look after them. Regular eye tests are essential to ensure that you have healthy vision and can proofread effectively.
5. Keep a sharp eye
Lookout for the homonym. These are words that share the same spelling or pronunciation but have different meanings. For example, to/two/too, accept/except and complement/compliment. Also, keep an eye out for the contraction. This includes they're, it's, you're, don’t etc.
6. Read aloud
Sometimes it helps to read your work out loud because your ears may pick up on errors which your eyes have missed. If you're in an office, you can simply plug your headphones in and use the ‘Read Aloud’ function in Microsoft Word.
7. Check names, dates and places
This is where Google comes in handy. Sometimes industry-specific and medical terms can often be misspelled, if in doubt, look it up.
8. Be aware of punctuation
Attention to detail is vital. Pay attention to commas, full stops, apostrophes, capitalised words etc - make sure they are being used correctly.
UK or US
There are many differences between American and British English, especially when it comes to spelling words. For example, colour/color, behaviour/behavior etc. Additionally, typically, British spellings contain ‘s’ and American spellings contain ‘z’, for example, organise/organize and realise/realize.
Proofreading from a screen
Proofreading from a screen for long periods of time can cause computer vision syndrome. Staring at digital screens for extended hours can cause eye discomfort and vision problems such as digital eye strain. There are many ways to combat computer vision syndrome and, in doing so, it also helps with eyestrain, headaches, blurry vision, neck and shoulder pain and dry eye.
Why you should always get someone to proofread your work
When proofreading our own work, most of us suffer from inattentional blindness or perceptual blindness, which is when we miss things that are in plain sight because we simply aren’t paying it enough attention. When we are reading, you can miss mistakes because our brains subconsciously fix spelling mistakes as we read. For example, you’ll be more than likely to understand and make sense of the sentence below:
Profreeading is important in oder to ensrue yur dcumnets mkae snse.