Top 10 Pro Tips for Proofreading Business Text

Photo of a young woman working on a desktop computer smiling as she leans forwards reading text on the screen.
Rarely used proofreading tip: Read backward. (Photo: racorn)

One of the downsides of instant communication is that we get into the habit of responding to everything quickly. We read a message—and boom, we send out a response, typos and all.

Although that may be fine for personal communication, it reflects poorly on your business’s image. Wouldn’t you rather know that a company takes its communications—and its clients—seriously and thoughtfully?

By following the tips below, you can begin proofreading business writing like a pro.

1. Walk away from your work for a while.

When you have just written a blog, an article, or a letter, you are “too close to it.” Put some space between writing and proofreading. The reason? Your brain tends to skip over errors in something you have just created. Try working on another project before you proofread the article you just wrote.

2. Print it out.

We process images differently on a screen versus on paper. Print out what you’ve written and then take a look at it with pencil in hand. Chances are, you’ll spot errors you didn’t notice on your computer. If a printer is not handy, try using a larger type size or a different font.

3. Slow down.

Here’s a trick I use all the time: Fold a blank, white piece of paper in half. Use it to read your work line by line, covering the next line as you go. When you isolate your work, you tend to notice mistakes more readily. This WORKS.

4. Read backward.

Similarly, if you start at the ending and read back up to the beginning, one sentence at a time, you will keep your brain from skipping over your errors.

5. Keep a close lookout for your usual mistakes.

We all have common mistakes in our writing. Maybe for you, it’s homonyms. Or maybe you transpose the letters in certain words all the time. Spell-check programs can’t catch “form” for “from” or “sue” for “use,” but if you know you frequently make those mistakes, you can catch them more easily on a careful read-through.

6. Read it out loud.

It’s amazing what you’ll catch when you use the spoken word as you proofread business text.

7. Get rid of distractions.

When we finish writing a blog post or a letter, we often breathe a sigh of relief and, therefore, let down our guard in terms of distractions. You can’t proofread effectively while making a phone call or checking your email. Devote your full attention to the proofreading process.

8. Develop a proofreading system.

Here’s an example: Try checking your spelling on one read-through and your grammar and punctuation on another. Develop a system that splits up the tasks, and you will be more deliberate and detail-oriented.

9. Recheck the whole sentence or paragraph after you make a change.

You know how when you paint a room in your home, the furniture looks shabby all of a sudden? If you make a last-minute change to a sentence, double-check the sentence and maybe even the entire paragraph. That seemingly small change you made could have thrown off the flow of your work.

10. Get another pair of eyes.

Ask someone else to take a close look at what you’ve written. If you’d like me to go over your business writing and make sure it’s perfect, contact Super Copy Editors for a quick estimate.

Image of the cover of our free guide: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Proofreading Service.

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8 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Proofreading Service for Your Business

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I’m Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

2 Comments

  1. james norton
    April 30, 2019

    I would like to thank you for sharing this amazing content with us. The most important point in the content is ‘Read it out loud’. After proofreading the document read it out loud so you can get the missed out errors.

    Reply
    1. Dave Baker
      May 1, 2019

      Much appreciated, James.

      Reply

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