Proofreading

Morning Ride, Netherlands / Photograph by Wouter van den Heuvel / National Geographic's Photo of the Day

After launching my tirade about proper tutoring, I realized another lesson to share to everyone. A few minutes after posting, a fellow blogger liked my post, and I began proofreading it. Lo and behold! I had tons of grammatical errors in it. This reminded me that even experienced writers make mistakes, so we should always proofread.

Personally, short break helps me find more errors after writing something. If it was school work, I used to fix myself a snack and eat it before proofreading. If the piece of writing doesn’t need a deadline, I leave it alone for a few days. This method works well in making errors stick out like sore thumbs because it allows the mind of a writer to “forget” what he or she has written. Usually, we get to memorize our work, romanticizing the idea that when we think about something, we are always afforded the talent to type it down accurately. However, this is not the case, especially when writing at night. Somewhere between one neural synapse, our fingers would not type what we want it to, hence the typographical errors. We remember the right thing so vividly that we also fail to see what is actually written on paper. Taking a break helps us get away from that memory, and when we look at the paper, we’ll be able to see the errors that would crawl out like worms.

One other way that I find effective when proofreading is reading my work out loud. I’ve always believed that English, like most languages, are musical in nature. Our ears will catch anomalies in grammar, so we’ll hear mistakes like errors in parallelism better than if we just stared at a page. This also brings to mind what my first grade teacher told me: if it sounds wrong, most probably, it is. Also, we’ll need to see the right words and punctuations typed on the page to say the right thing, which will catch errors like they were flies running directly into a spider trap. Definitely, we’ll stumble and notice missing words when we read aloud.

These two strategies are only a few ways of proofreading. There are a lot of other proofreading techniques, both general and issue-specific, but for now, I will leave this discussion at that. I’ve written this post in the office, and by the time you see this, I would have already proofread this post, so there shouldn’t be any errors anymore.

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