|Hints for Better Proofreading|
Eye dont knead too no how two spell; Ill just yews my spell checker!
Yeah, Right! My spell checker or English grammar tools never even blinked at that sentence. We all know that there is so much more to proofreading than checking spelling.
Develop the habit of proof reading all your documents before the final print run! I have lined up a few proofreading tricks and some things to look for in the process!
· Read the copy several times. Look for different types of errors during each scan. Read everything once for content . Proofread important or technical material at least twice.
· Read the copy out loud or to someone and listen for missing words.
· Read one line at a time, covering future lines to avoid reading ahead. Read again from right to left or bottom to top to spot spelling or typographical errors.
· Once you find one error look carefully for nearby errors.
· Read titles and first lines carefully.
· Look at the copy upside down to check spacing.
· Dont hesitate to ask someone else to read your copy.
· When you can - proofread statistical data with a partner.
Common mistakes to be on the
· Check spelling. Always keep a spelling dictionary and a grammar guide within easy reach. Computer "spell-checkers" can wreck havoc with your document.
· Especially be alert for homonyms. Watch for words such as to, two, and too or their and there!
· We often use similar words by mistake: than/then; affect/effect; not/now; if/of.
· Check all punctuation. Review all sentence endings, quotations and parentheses.
· Guard against misplaced titles.
· Be aware of the consistency of all headings, subheadings. Check font, size, alignment, underlines and capitalization styles. Set your report rules upfront! It is always best to have a personal style.
· Be certain that all illustrations have the correct notation.
· Match and review all Table of Contents, cross references, and indexes that referenced page numbers match.
· Guard page number sequencing in book style reports be certain that all left pages are even numbers.
· Check numbered and alphabetized lists for correct sequencing, out of order or missed numbers.
Keep your work area organized and comfortable, proofread at various times during the day and avoid interruptions during your proofreading time! Hang up a sign on your office door if necessary!
1. It's and Its
It's is a contraction meaning "it
is" while its is the possessive form of it. This one is tricky since the apostrophe in all
other instances is the used in the possessive form.
It's never a good idea to get
between a dog and its favorite chew toy.
2. You, Your, and You're
Since all three words are spelled correctly, spell
checkers won't flag them. Consistent proof reading is the key to
identifying these problems -
do not count on your spell checker!
Anomaly sentence: Don't delay! Place you order
now! We offer free shipping if your in the United States.
3. Lose and Loose
Loose can be used an adjective, adverb, or a
But lose is always a verb:
mother told him to lose the attitude or else.
team never believed that they'd lose the game.
so happy to lose the extra 20 pounds I'd been carrying since the baby.
4. Compliment and Complement
These two homophones trip up even the most careful
writers. I am the biggest
hater of Homophones Damn the English language!
If you like your mother's new wallpaper, you'll
compliment her on her decorating skills.
Complement has meanings in grammar, medicine,
mathematics, and music, but it's most commonly used to indicate that
something completes a set or matches it well.
When you compliment your mother's wallpaper, you
might note how well the soft green color complements the off-white carpet.
5. Principal and Principle
A principle is a basic truth, policy, or
action. People dedicate their lives and careers to upholding principles
of truth and justice. Principals are people who uphold standards of
good behavior in schools.
A school's principal should always stick to her
Remember children: the principal is your pal!
6. Except and Accept
Except connotes exclusion or something left
out, like an exception to the rule.
Accept means that you're receiving something,
joining a group, entering into an agreement, etc.
I'd accept your romantic marriage proposal -
except for one problem. I'm already married.
7. Affect and Effect
Affect is a verb: it acts upon something,
someone, or an emotion, while effect is a noun.
The discovery that his wife could control the
weather affected her husband rather badly.
The so-called "Wealth Effect" affected
total consumer spending and debt levels far more than economists
8. Peak and Pique
A peak is the top of a mountain or the
highest point in something's development or intensity. Pique refers
to an emotion - usually anger or curiosity.
In a fit of pique, the rock climber hurled his
partner's favorite harness off the highest peak.
9. Assure, Insure and Ensure
The best explanation comes from the Dictionary.com
ensure, and insure
all mean "to make secure or certain." Only assure is used
with reference to a person in the sense of "to set the mind at
rest": assured the leader of his loyalty. Although ensure
and insure are generally interchangeable, only insure is now
widely used in American English in the commercial sense of "to
guarantee persons or property against risk."
I assure you that the insured property owner is
taking steps to ensure your safety.
10. Moot and Mute
How often have you heard someone insist: "it's
a mute point!" Well, if it's a topic that's incapable of
making a sound, they're correct. But more often they're really trying to
say that it's a moot point - or one that's irrelevant.
Since the point was already moot, Abby stood
mutely in front of the teacher.
Bonus Error! Me, Myself and I
You see a lot of usage errors with these three
words. Generations of schoolchildren grew used to constant correction
about the use of me in sentences. While most learned that "Bob
and me want to go" is incorrect, they never learned the correct
usage of the word me.
Would you please call Bob or me before you leave?
Is perfectly clear and acceptable.
Yet, well-meaning people substitute either I
or the reflexive pronoun myself instead. How often do you hear or
read something like this:
Would you please call Bob or myself before you
Yuck! Take Bob out of the sentence and you're either
asking the person to "call I before you leave" or "call
myself before you leave." Neither one sounds or looks very
Don't be afraid to use the word me in
sentences, but take care to use it correctly!
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