Three Tools of Proofreading
(Abigail Side Note: I’m sorry about the nothingness of last week. I”m trying to juggle a new semester and about five new responsibilities. Hopefully things will start to balance out soon.)
Proofreading, which is basically just like editing, is something that everyone needs to do. No one should bang out ten pages of some random paper and call it a day. I have discussed elsewhere the benefits of editing but I think that the tools of the trade must be understood.
1) Spell checker. I will admit, I love spell checker. I am a horrible speller. I just learned last year how to spell “necessary”. Before that, spell check picked it up for me. One of the first things I do after I’m done writing is run a spell check on it. That clears up all the obvious errors.
That being understood,
You cannot rely on spell checker.
Seriously. There are so many similar words, like dug and drug, rely and relay, defiantly and definitely, summery and summary. None of these words mean the same thing, but they will show up as correct on spell check.
Also, a spell checker can’t distinguish between parts of grammar. If I drop an -ly from a word, it won’t know. It just looks at what you wrote, and compares it to what it finds in the dictionary.
That being said, we move on to tool number two.
2) Eyes. Imagine the horror of actually having to do something manually. </sarcasm> Seriously though, you do need to actually read though what you wrote slowly, looking for all those little errors that spell check missed, and typos you made. Usually, when you do this, something that made sense before might not actually make sense anymore. Understand: That’s Okay! That means you found a place that you’ll have to edit anyway later.
3) The Pen: This is going to seem like a nuisance, but, having a pen handy to mark where your mistakes are is a very valuable tool. Wait–I can’t mark with a pen on my computer. That would ruin it! Well, then that means you probably want to print it out.
See, I know that it may seem like a waste of trees. And for a long time I thought that printing things out to edit hem was, in fact, a waste of money. But after I have seen how many errors I missed when I didn’t print it out, I learned my lesson. Waste the trees! Your project will love you.
So that’s it. The three basic tools of proofreading. Yes, you can use one without the other, but it isn’t very advisable. You need all three to make sure that your manuscript is as good as it can possibly be.