the proof is in the pudding

When one slice is not enough.

We all make mistakes, but sometimes even spellchecker can’t save you. Whether it be a 50 page document or a quick email, checking your work for errors is imperative if you wish to portray a professional image.

It is hard to proofread your own documents when you’ve been staring at them all day. And it can be difficult to see what you’ve actually written, rather than what you’ve meant to.

So if you don’t have a friend with a keen eye for detail nearby, try taking some time out before reading over your work. A break of 10 minutes or 10 days can help give you ‘fresh eyes’ when looking for mistakes.

There are many techniques for reviewing documents, so here are a few tips to help you next time you need to go over your work.

Reading the text aloud lets you hear problems that you don’t necessarily see. Take your time and be methodical.

Try looking for one problem at a time, from the most important to the least. Take note of those mistakes that you make regularly, i.e. structure, word choice, spelling and punctuation.

Working from a printout (rather than on the computer) provides you with a different format to use. It also helps if you cover what you are not reading, to stop you from skipping ahead.

Also try reading your text backwards, from the last word to the first, to catch out individual words rather than just sentences.

Double-check all your quoted facts and figures, and finally, don’t forget to consult your dictionary! A real one will confirm what spellchecker cannot.

Examining your documents carefully is a practiced skill, but taking the time to check your writing will help you pick up on your blunders before someone else does.