Proofreading and editing are requisites of writing success. Whether you’re publishing a book, a thesis, or a blog, what’s going to bring a certain level of credibility to your writing is the support and guidance of an expert editor from your respective field.

Your writing is a direct reflection of you. They can use even minor errors like typos to negatively judge you. Every its and it’s counts when you want your work to be recognized.  

But not everyone can afford to have professional editors or proofreaders onboard. It’s a reason to worry if your work will be in the public domain. 

If that’s you… should you be worried? Let’s find out. 

Is it impossible to proofread your own work? 

Nothing is impossible (making sense of James Joyce’s Ulysses maybe is). Proofreading all by yourself is pretty much possible. Just because it’s doable, doesn’t mean you should entirely rely on your own arguable rectifying abilities. It’s a technical skill after all. Apart from that, there are various other reasons proofreading your own work can be problematic.  

  • You don’t see the faults

You can catch the minor faults like typos. But what about the big picture? When you write, you form a mental image of the meaning you wish to convey. You form a bias that makes the image seem perfect in your mind. But, it may not have culminated so on paper. That’s why you need a fresh pair of eyes to read through your piece. 

  • You aren’t skilled enough 

Proofreading is the most tedious task in every writer’s publishing journey. It may be more tedious than writing itself, and most writers aren’t equipped with the technical aspects of language and grammar. No wonder then, most authors hire professional proofreading services to get the job done. 

  • Fatigue 

Rereading your manuscript or academic papers is a sound way to assure the draft has turned out the way you wanted to. Despite reading through the manuscript multiple times you won’t be able to catch all the faults which slip in there naturally because of the bias we talked about. 

Now you know why proofreading is important and why you should ideally hire a professional to get the job done. But if you’re a broke student or a part-time indie author on a tight budget, you’re in no position to hire a paid proofreader. What do you then? You pull out those proofreading glasses. 

Top tips to proofread on your own work: 

#1 Ice it 

By that, we mean to put it away for a while. Don’t look at your document till you’ve almost forgotten what you wrote in it. Get back to it after a week, if time permits. You’ll notice that you gained a fresh perspective in due course. Suddenly, the cracks have appeared, you find flaws in your arguments, some details missing, and punctuation all messed up.

It’s very effective. How d’you not notice all those shortcomings in the first go is all that you’ll be wondering. 

 

#2 Partner up  

You can’t hire a professional proofreader. So what? You can always have someone from friends or family join in for the task. It’s okay even if they aren’t an expert. Simply have them read out your text loudly and take notes wherever they fumble. That’s your queue for making changes at those points. 

 

#3 Print it out  

Hand over a physical copy for your partner to be read out loud. Reading from a screen is harder, less efficient and less rewarding. It only makes proofreading an even more complex task for a novice to do it solo. 

In case, printing it out is not an option, one of the following tricks can help: 

  • Change the font 

You will perceive your text in a whole new light even if it gives you the same meaning. It will become easier to notice oddities and irregularities in the text. 

  • Change the size 

Again, attention to detail increases when things are magnified. An enlarged font will make the missed out errors to start floating for your attention.   

  • Change the layout 

Proofreading is not just all about typos and grammar, it’s a whole lot more than that! Changing the layout will give you an idea about how to structure your writing.  

 

#4 Text to speech

The bottom line is, listening to someone else read your text will help you understand it better. Most computers and mobile devices have this feature in-built. So, if you’ve got no one you can reach out to. Use text-to-speech applications to take notes and make the changes. 

 

#5 Tech help

 There are various software and applications which can scan your text for errors. All word processors come with spell-checkers, but that’s as far as they go. For more sophisticated algorithms that will conduct a higher level scan of language check, check out this article. The free versions operate like elementary level English school teachers, basic spelling and grammar level checks. While the paid ones are like English Master’s college professors, they give you detailed feedback about what went wrong and how to fix it! 

We’ll never know if James Joyce had Ulysses proofread or not, but we sure know you can make your writing a rewarding reading experience for everyone. All you need is a good round of proofreading. All the best!